System leaving older jobless behind

Pushed into busywork, older unemployed punished by jobseeker system: Anglicare

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PONTLESS: Older jobseekers feel unsupported by the government.

PONTLESS: Older jobseekers feel unsupported by the government.

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Older jobless are being hurt, not helped by the restart of mutual obligations and demerit points for job seekers.

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Older unemployed Australians are being hurt, not helped by the restart of mutual obligations and demerit points for job seekers, according to a new study by Anglicare Australia.

The Asking Those Who Know study included interviews and a survey with over 600 Centrelink users. More than 240 were mature age job seekers.

The results paint a woeful picture of life for older people on the dole with more than half pessimistic that they will ever again be hired into paid work (compared to 15 per cent for other job seekers) and only 38 per cent believing the social security system was designed to help them.

Almost no mature age jobseekers felt their Centrelink activities helped them find work with 82 per cent saying the activities were pointless and less than one in three saying they felt supported by their government.

Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said it was time to start helping older people instead of punishing them.

"Employment services are failing older people. They are out of work for longer and longer periods, while being locked out of the activities they actually find useful. For example, people over 55 are not allowed to meet their obligations by caring for family members or volunteering.

"Instead, they are being pushed into busywork that they find pointless - meetings with Centrelink, appointments with Jobactive providers, busywork, and failing programs like Work for the Dole. At the same time, they are stuck on JobSeeker payments that are well below the poverty line.

"The stereotype is that JobSeeker payments are for younger people, but that's a myth. People over 55 are the largest age group on JobSeeker payments," said Ms Chambers.

"Instead of re-starting mutual obligations after the pandemic, we should be scrapping them altogether. Our study shows they are not helping people get into work.

"Instead, they are being pushed into busywork that they find pointless - meetings with Centrelink, appointments with Jobactive providers, busywork, and failing programs like Work for the Dole. At the same time, they are stuck on JobSeeker payments that are well below the poverty line. - Kasy Chambers, Anglicare Australia

"We need to be lifting job seekers out of poverty. Older Australians should be planning for their future and their retirement, not getting stuck in poverty traps.

"And we need to give people the freedom to pick their own activities. Many of them already volunteer, and some told us they want to spend time caring for their families and grandchildren.

"We need to be lifting job seekers out of poverty. Older Australians should be planning for their future and their retirement, not getting stuck in poverty traps. - Kasy Chambers, Anglicare Australia

"These changes are urgent. If we don't fix this broken system, we will be forcing people to spend their older years doing pointless busywork and living in poverty,"

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