Young and unemployed given little chance to survive

May 20, 2014

The changes being made to Newstart and Youth Allowance places more burden on one of the most vulnerable groups in Australia; the young and unemployed. Under the current changes, 83,757 young people stand to lose $5000 a year.

The move to reduce support for young people under 25, and have them wait six months for support, will mean they won’t be able to remain employable for long says Father Chris Riley, CEO and Founder at Youth Off The Streets.

“The average weekly expenditure, for a household, is $280, but the Youth Allowance maximum income per week is just $207.2[1]. Even if payments start immediately, young people won’t be able to maintain an acceptable level of employability for long,” he says.

This gap between income and expenditure will lead to an increase in reliance upon support services like Youth Off The Streets and other Not-For-Profit organisations, who are already stretched dealing with the current level of demand.

Youth Off The Streets currently works in some areas that have over 20% youth unemployment, and one area (Logan, QLD) that has a youth unemployment rate of 60%. Joe Hockey’s ‘lifters not leaners’ statement becomes ironic as these changes force young disadvantaged people to lean on family, friends and support services just to survive – keeping unemployed young people marginalised, says Father Chris Riley.

“The young people we work with won’t have anywhere to go. In a fiercely competitive space, with few jobs, young people will have to lean on friends, family and support services in order to survive. The reduced income, rise in petrol prices, cutting community service provision, increasing health care costs and not investing in public transport – they won’t have a choice but to lean on those who care for them. They’ll become increasingly marginalised and disconnected from their community, until they are homeless,” he says.

Youth Off The Streets believes these budget changes will put communities at risk of an increase in rates of petty crime, domestic violence, alcohol and other drug abuse, and give young people very little opportunity to escape the cycle of disadvantage.

Youth Off The Streets believes it is important for the government to act in the best interests of the least fortunate and to protect them from further inequality.

“Youth unemployment is more than double the national unemployment rate. The job market for them is fiercely competitive. It’s wrong to place extra burden on this group of disadvantaged people. This budget seeks to create an underclass of citizens that will be unable to escape from poverty,” he says.

Youth Off The Streets will continue to provide disadvantaged young people with the opportunity to improve their position in life with their outreach programs; accredited, independent high schools; mental health services; homelessness services and youth centres. Youth Off The Streets provides a safe and positive environment for young people aged between 12 and 25 years.

[1] Using the Household Expenditure Survey, lowest quintile and dividing that number by average people per household (1.5, but we rounded to 2 people)

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