Australia’s unemployed youth have faced some serious hurdles in recent times. With new budgetary measures affecting the provision of welfare to those under the age of 25, critics and insiders are suggesting there is no evidence to suggest a one-month wait for the dole achieves anything.

Under the proposed measure, introduced as part of the 2015 Federal Budget, Australian citizens under 25 will be forced to wait more than a month before receiving a welfare payment. In the past, groups such as Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) have claimed the measure is patently unjust and socially unfair, causing damage within the wider community and often exacerbating bad socio-economic situations.

Initially, the government proposed a measure that would see young people wait more than six months in order to gain access to unemployment benefits (around $550 per fortnight). But the measure was roundly blocked by the Senate after a tidal wave of opposition emerged. Hoping to tweak the shameless, socially detrimental law, the LNP has recently introduced a new one-month waiting period for all citizens under the age of 25.

During a Senate committee hearing, the Department of Social Services all but tacitly admitted there was no evidentiary basis for the effectiveness of the strange law. Citing the New Zealand system, which has been offered as an exemplary example of the merits of the scheme, the department’s Cath Halbert was grilled by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.

“What examples, other examples beyond New Zealand, have you got that denying people income support for that period of time is going to be an activation for them?” Senator Siewert probed.

“It was a decision of Government, Senator, to apply the four-week waiting period and that was after, I believe, extensive consultation on the previous year’s budget measure, which was a six-month waiting period and following that consultation the Government has decided to apply a four-week waiting period,” the department representative replied.

“Do I interpret what you’re saying that in fact you haven’t got the evidence on a four-week waiting period, it was a decision by Government?” Senator Siewert followed up. “Not directly, no,” Ms. Halbert admitted, seemingly unaware of the frustrations and negative repercussions being felt among the broader community.

Critics have long argued the measures are simply punitive and do not achieve their stated and intended goals. Instead of pushing more young Australians into work, there is evidence that the one-month waiting period will have a disastrous effect on the country’s most at-risk citizens.


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