Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Youth welfare system unfair: ACOSS

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is warning urgent action is needed to fix youth poverty and disincentives for the unemployed to improve their job prospects.

Its concerns are outlined in its submission to the Senate Committee Inquiry into income support and social security for young people.

ACOSS president Andrew McCallum says there needs to be a modern income support system that is flexible and fair.

"Combine payments for unemployed adults, trainees and students into a single employment payment and that would assist people to actually retrain themselves," he said.

"We are saying you should increase [the] Youth Allowance by $13 a week for 16 to 17-year-olds living at home and $7.50 a week for 18-year-olds.

"[We are also saying to] extend rent assistance for dependent young people and also extend rent assistance to those who are on Austudy and over 25."

Mr McCallum says many students are working long hours in addition to full time study just to survive.

"We know that students are working three times more hours than they did a number of years ago in terms of supporting themselves through study," he said. "You know families of teenagers won't get the $600 that has been provided to other families with children under 16 in the recent Budget."

Federal Youth Affairs Minister Larry Anthony has dismissed the claims, saying the Government has increased support for students in recent years.

"$2.8 billion will be going out next financial year to support young people. With the introduction of Youth Allowance, there are more young people going on to support study today." ???

Under the old Austudy system it was easier to get the dole than it was to get Youth Allowance and to go into higher education. "The system today is significantly better than it was in the past."

The committee is due to report back at the end of November.

By ACOSS 15 June 04


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