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Proposed amendments to hurt mature-aged jobseekers


The Federal Government is considering amendments to the Social Security Act 1991 which would change the compliance requirements of job seekers aged 55-59. ‘Schedule 9’ of the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017 requires people aged 55-59 dedicate a minimum 15 hours per fortnight to job search or other job-related activity, such as work for the dole. Currently, their mutual obligation to serve at least 30 hours per fortnight engaged in an approved activity may be fulfilled entirely through voluntary work.

Volunteering Australia has raised a number of concerns regarding this proposal:

  • Mature-aged workers are already a disadvantaged group, who face specific challenges in securing employment. This new compliance requirement will force them to spend considerable effort engaged in what is often fruitless job seeking. This time could be better spent in voluntary work, which provides professional development and a reliable pathway to employment.
  • This age group is an invaluable part of the volunteering sector, contributing a significant amount of time and energy to volunteer work. These changes would likely move people away from volunteer positions, having a detrimental effect on the sector.
  • Fewer mature-aged volunteers would affect the quality of services provided by volunteer involving organisations and volunteer support services, as well as their long-term financial viability and workforce capacity.

This proposal is a worrying sign that the government does not appreciate the value of volunteering to our communities and the prospects it provides jobseekers.

Read Volunteering Australia’s full response the the bill here.

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Concerned for mature age workers - posted on September 14, 2017 12:33 pm

there is no provision on this website for capital letters, which makes the comments left here appear uneducated. Not good.

30 hours of voluntary work is just that. Voluntary. It rarely leads to paid work – for this age group – many sadly find. Voluntary work is important, but Mature age workers do need paid work. Volunteering for a significant amount of time per month – without pay – leaves little time or energy to find and engage in paid work. It also leaves volunteers out of pocket, and struggling to meet their living costs.

Finding work is difficult for mature age workers. The amount of time dedicated to this is problematic. What needs to happen is – a range of suitable government funded/industry funded job training/upskilling programs/courses etc for this segment of the population that results in appropriately paid work for skills/qualifications. Long term regional volunteering (i.e taking whatever voluntary job is available in the area) for Newstart can easily morph into a form of exploitation. Expectations for this particular age group are lowered, and paid job opportunities are sidelined – and silenced – by CentreLink. Once a mature age person applies for a volunteering position they are no longer required to look for work. In this sense they are essentially working for the dole. The amount of money Provided by newstart is pitiful. Sure charities need their long term volunteers, and don’t want to give up their free labour, but at what cost to mature age citizens? Mature age workers need a range of initiatives and support systems to help them locate and keep tangible, paid work until their retirement years. This should be the focus.

As to long term volunteering – why not look at recruiting age pensioners who have no desire or need to work for money? Also, other groups of people – such as students, immigrants, disadvantaged people, stay at home Mums etc. Targeting mature aged workers for long term, on-going unpaid voluntary work is curious. Volunteering for Newstart needs critical evaluation. mature aged workers should not be expected to work (volunteering) for Newstart indefinitately – as an alternative to being provided with reliable paid, suitable work. This is a cop out, and does little to help disadvantaged mature age citizens return to the paid workforce and pay their bills. Think about it. The retirement age is what?

sUZANNE - posted on October 4, 2017 5:01 pm

(Oh dear – no caps?) I have similar concerns. Whilst I do not object to voluntary work per se, I’d suggest that most of us (I’m 63, with 3 post-graduate qualifications) simply cannot afford the costs of regular voluntary work – transport, clothing etc.
That said, I HAVE RETURNED TO STUDY. My qualifications are in adult education and paralegal type work, and the government has taken the axe to all the programs that funded my work – I lost my job in January 2015.
As I understand it, THERE are also issues to do with workers’ compensation cover with voluntary work which would need to be addressed.

Sharon budd - posted on January 31, 2018 2:06 pm

Sorry to hear you are not a fan of volunteering Susanne. I will be 63 this year and I love my volunteer retail position (CentreLink funded 15 hours per week) since June 2016. There is no pressure to dress anyway in particular only to be clean and tidy which I would be whether at home or at work. I find CentreLink easy to work with and they allowed me to source a charity within easy reach and sometimes I spend time at one of the charity’s other outlets which requires me to catch a bus sometimes 4 buses per day but even on a New start benefit it is not difficilult. It is just a matter of adjusting to one’s minimal income. I wish you well with your studies and prosperous employment to follow. I volunteered from age 13 – 56 for a variety of charities long before it was vogue. If charities did not receive volunteer assistance then a lot of less disadvantaged people would not receive the services & assistance that a charity provides. Charities have overheads to pay and the donations they receive go a lot further than they would if they had to replace volunteers with paid employees. Sincerely sharon.

Leanne Trio - posted on September 26, 2018 9:43 pm

I have recently read on many websites that People aged 60 plus have an of annual activity requirement of 10 hours per fortnight with the option to satisfy mutual obligation by volunteering alone. All is not as it seems. a person aged 60 plus who chooses volunteering must complete 30 hours per fortnight. this is not on the dept of human services website. instead, a person seeking information on this issue needs to go to the jobactive website. Not good enough in my opinion.

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