BILLS: Social Security Legislation Amendment (Youth Jobs Path: Prepare, Trial, Hire) Bill 2016;Consideration in Detail

Thanks to the member for Mayo for her questions. They are important ones. I will just give a bit of an outline of the program to attempt to relieve some of her fears and concerns, which I would say are unfounded. I can assure the member for Mayo it is a good program. It has been well thought through, with consultation with key stakeholders and business groups, and in particular it provides jobs and hopes and opportunities for young Australians. The Jobs Youth PaTH improves upon and complements existing supporting programs by providing real world solutions to the real world employment challenges facing young people—young people in my electorate of Riverina, young people in the honourable member's electorate of Mayo. I know her electorate well.                 

The employability skills training will be intensively delivered in two blocks of three weeks, and the close engagement with employers in the training's design means that it will deliver real results. A wide range of organisations have already been consulted, as I have just discussed, on the training and their feedback will inform its implementation. The internship placement is different from existing work experience activities because it delivers a formal opportunity for young people to understand the work environment and at the same time it gives employers an opportunity to ensure the job seeker is a good fit for their business. Other key differences include: under the internship job seekers will receive a $200 per fortnight supplement on top of their income support payment, so that is a bonus, and employers will receive an up-front payment of $1,000 to host an intern, so that is good for them too. So it is a win-win situation. Previous wage subsidies for youth under 30 provided employers with up to $6,500, GST inclusive, over 12 months if they hired an eligible job seeker. The new youth bonus wage subsidy provides up to $10,000 over six months. In addition, all wage subsidies for job seekers aged 25 to 29 years—parents, Indigenous, mature age and the long-term unemployed—will be further enhanced, including payment over six months.                

The member for Mayo asked about sexual harassment, about bullying in the workplace and about safety in the workplace. I can assure her that all those fit under this legislation. Of course no government would put in a plan that was going to give bullies in the workplace the opportunity to perpetrate their crimes—and they are crimes—against young people. There has been some suggestion that participants are going to be paid only $4 an hour. The Australian Council of Trade Unions have suggested that. The claim that the scheme will see young Australians paid so little per hour is a blatant lie, and the ACTU really should issue—                

Mr Husic: Rubbish!                

Mr McCORMACK:  No, it is not rubbish. They should issue an apology for trying to mislead Australians. Dare I say it, that is typical of that organisation. Under the innovative Youth Jobs PaTH plan, the payment of $200 per fortnight is on top of the existing income support that the job seeker already receives. It is an opportunity for individuals, as I have said before, with income support to gain valuable work experience in a real workplace on a voluntary basis but with all the conditions that a usual employee would benefit from, would be subjected to and would have the experience of. This should not be confused with paid work as individuals will continue to stay on income support whilst undertaking the internship.                 

This is a good employment package. It is good for youth. It is good for young Australians. It makes them job ready. Many of them have not experienced this sort of undertaking before, this sort of opportunity, and I can assure the member for Mayo that particularly for regional areas, particularly for young people in country regions, this is a good deal for them. It makes them job ready. Employers and representative organisations such as the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry consistently state that young people need to improve their employability skills and have recent work experience. This PaTH program enables just that. Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that more than 100,000 unemployed young people aged 15 to 24 have never worked before. It is a staggering statistic. Job seekers who undertake work experience are more likely to find sustainable ongoing employment. The department's administrative data for December 2014 showed that of the job seekers who undertook unpaid work experience, almost half were in employment three months later compared to 26 per cent for other activities. 

Cristy Houghton