No Sympathy for the Unemployed

Even though Australia is booming with the economic downturn hurting elsewhere, the unemployed are being targeted by the government. Several years ago pensioners were given a significant rise in payments. The unemployment rate remained the same. The "dole" is indexed to inflation, but it remains very low.

Youth Allowance is paid to young people to the age of 20, full-time student under 24, and also apprentices to this age. Those living at home receive A$110.15 a week (2010). Independent recipients get A$167.35. Living away from home, sharing the rent of a house could easily cost more than A$100.00 a week. Attending university would be just as expensive, so the burden falls on parents.

Newstart which is the actual "dole" paid to eligible unemployed workers over 18 years is A$228.00 a week. There are severe restrictions on getting the full amount. Recipients must sign an Unemployment Pathway Plan (Activity Agreement) where they are monitored and told to do certain activities in preparation for work. If they earn more than A$32.00 a week the benefit is reduced. It ends entirely when income reaches A$228.00.

Those who own a home must have assets valued below A$161.500 to receive the full rate. Non-homeowners can have A$278,500 of assets. More benefits are paid to people who have children. Rent assistance can also be obtained.

Conservative governments tend to be harder on dole recipients. John Howard, for example, toughened Activity Agreements. The present Labor government has not increased the unemployment rate. Obviously, sympathy for the unemployed is not important to them either. Labor has got rid of Work for the Dole for those unemployed for more than six months.

Government policy on all sides seems to be to keep the unemployed on their toes and anxious. Because there are few jobs available unless you move to the bush to mining companies, this appears to be the only purpose. learning to use computers, write resumes and do interviews serves no real function. Australia's workforce is becoming increasingly part-time and "casualized". Many work three days a week or less. Little research has been done into under-employment in this country.
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