Kathryn is trained as a graphic designer, looking for work in the field. Because Newstart is so low and she can't get parenting payment anymore, she's just had to put her computer - the tools of her trade - into hock to pay for her son's schoolbooks. How is this going to help her find work?
Abdul has qualifications in finance, but has been out of work for over a year. Both qualified people, both looking for work for a long time now, and finding that the low level of Newstart is making it harder for them to get back into work. So how easy is it to “get back on your feet” if you are on Newstart?
That is what I talked with people about today. I visited a Centrelink office and spoke with people on Newstart about their experiences of looking for work.
(If you've got work for Kathryn or Abdul, please get in touch with my office on (03)96420922 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
I do know that it can be very difficult for people, especially women, to find work. 2011 data shows that 42% of people on Newstart, who are looking for work, receive Newstart for more than 2 years. Men are on Newstart for an average of 2 years and 8 months; women, for an average of 3 years and 9 months.
That is a long time for people, especially children, to be living in poverty.
My discussions with people today have highlighted the challenges on the pathway back to work:
* Women often stop working and studying to have children.
* Many courses are too expensive to undertake to retrain for work.
* Children require after-school care and there is no affordable care available.
* It can be difficult to find work in a new community if have to move to afford housing.
* Transport costs are prohibitive.
* There are high costs of transitioning into the workforce – particularly for women – including transport, training, clothes and family care.
* People between the ages of 50-59 are at a high risk of unemployment and probably find it harder to secure new employment or retrain for new careers.
* The Employment Pathway Plan and activity test requirements can be arduous and feel pointless to people who are continually rejected.
* The cycle of rejection lowers people’s confidence, motivation and self-esteem.
Here are other comments that have been made by job-seekers:
"More needs to be done for women that are left with no financial support, as they are not only taking on two roles but they are working and trying to mop up the psychological mess that there ex partners have left. Imagine that. I just wished I had the opportunity to study more and at the same time make sure my children were emotionally, psychologically and spiritually taken care of the way I envisioned."[Donna]
"I was advised at my transition interview to study this year to improve my job prospects. I was told one minute you’re losing $250 a fortnight then the next minute put a little aside each week to pay for a course. Don’t you think if I had enough to put a little aside each week I would put it on the maxed out credit card or the car loan? The pensioner Education Supplement was removed so no assistance for extra study. If I do my course part time one day a week for two years I not only lose $250 a fortnight from transition to Newstart but roughly an additional $180 a fortnight in lost wages. I don’t see myself lasting a month if I work, study and raise my kids at the same time on less money." [Jenny]
"As a single parent and the principal carer of my children I am now required to attend Job Seeker training Mon-Thur 9.30am-3.30pm starting on Monday 21st January (My children will be left to their own devices while I attend this compulsory training as school hasn’t gone back yet)." [Carolyn]
"A requirement of the Single Parenting Payment was to work, or study, which I do both. I am unable to acquire permanent employment because of my lack of availability due to forced custody arrangements and my profession being shift work. Where is day care available at 6.30 a.m or until 10 p.m. at night?" [Lisa]
"I'm a single mum doing everything I can a falling deeper into poverty. I am educated, multi-skilled and recently re-trained achieving distinction results. When next you are speaking could you also press for incentives for employers to employ single parents and also incentives for employers to create parenting-friendly jobs. I am currently applying for every job I possibly can, however the job shortage is absolutely critical." [Natalie]
"The whole system needs a review for people like me Newstart is not just for the long time unemployed and people should not be treated as such. There were agreements I was made to make that actually forced me into wasting time rather than looking for work. The embarrassment that the system forced on me was also unforgivable." [Chris]
"The reality is, Single Parents can't work full time unless they have family support. …We are a casualised work-force, through no choice. As 'casuals' we are the 'fill-in' employee, with employers utilising full-time and part-time employees' for the required shifts/hours and then utilising the 'casuals' who are more expensive to fill any gaps. As a result, we have no job security, we have to rely on a low income working or not, some weeks not earning enough to provide for our children. That is why Single Parents require income support. Single parent's who have no support, have a lack of availability for full-time employment and that is just fact - we can't put our children in a cupboard because they are not convenient." [Lisa]
"Since my daughter turned 7 I have worked and studied. I have met my requirements for Centrelink of 30 hours/fortnight and then some. I am a uni student, work casual and also regularly walk catalogues. I feel as though I am being punished for doing everything that has been asked of me. … I have now lost the incentive to work and wonder how I will manage to study. I don't believe I will be capable of studying while I am struggling to survive from week to week. And what about my daughter? It is not legal to leave a child under 12 at home by themselves, there is a lack of available child care, and I have no family or friends that can help to care for her. I very rarely get a break as her father has absolutely no contact. I am very much a single parent. I am feeling just a little worn out by getting by week to week." [Alyson]
"The truth is the jobs for long term unemployed are not there. Recruitment agencies are simply not interested in these people. Employers will not take them on, they are literally stuck on the poverty line." [Doug]
End of Day 3: $18.48 - $5.26 (food) = $13.22
Drove to and from Centrelink – 16km (27 km left)