Wednesday, 11 September 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Ruston. Can the minister please advise the Senate how the Morrison government is delivering stability and certainty for Australians looking to find work through the Try, Test and Learn Fund?
Thank you very much to Senator Askew for her question and her particular interest in removing barriers to employment for Australians who are looking for work. The Morrison government is absolutely committed to working with all Australians to break down the barriers that are preventing people who are on working-age payments to get off welfare and into a job. We are supporting them through a range of initiatives, including the one that Senator Askew mentioned, which is the $96 million Try, Test and Learn Fund. What we've been doing through this fund is trialling new and innovative ways to assist people on welfare with their pathway towards either education or employment.
One great example that is already on foot is the Work Work project run by Too Good kitchens in Sydney and Melbourne. This particular program employs mature-age women to gain financial independence and creates a pathway for them back into the workforce. These women will complete a 16-week, paid, on-the-job training program as kitchen assistants, and then, at the end of that, they are guaranteed six months paid work in one of the kitchens of Too Good.
I want to tell you about Tracey. Tracey is a 52-year-old, and she's been struggling with drug addiction for most of her life. Tracey joined the team on the Work Work project and, in her own words, 'has never looked back'. What Tracey said to us was: 'I've had trouble for a long time to get back into a job, but this program has really helped change things for me. I've made friends for life with these girls. It's so good for us'.
On this side of the chamber, we understand that Australians do face particular barriers to employment. Because of our strong and stable economy, we are able to afford to invest in programs like the Try, Test and Learn Fund, the one that has actually helped Tracey to get back into the workforce. We know—
I thank Senator Askew for her follow-up question. I can advise this chamber that we've got over 30 programs through the Try, Test and Learn program agenda to help young people specifically and support them in their quest to get a job. One such program is the Fairbridge Leadership, Engagement and Development program, and it helps young people find a career path by exposing them to a number of different trades in the hope that they may be able to identify a particular work path that is going to be of interest to them, because we know that young people often don't know what they want to do because they don't know what is available to them. So, by exposing them to a range of different programs, we are hoping that they'll find one that they're interested in and, by accompanying these programs with literacy and numeracy support, counselling, mentoring and the like, we were able to assist them. Rory's mother, who is part of one of our ready-to-work programs, said that Rory has been given the opportunity to practise and learn a range of employability skills, and it'll mean he'll get a job. (Time expired)
I'd like to tell you a story about Jacqueline, who participated in the Next Steps program run by HR Development at Work. This program gives older jobseekers a combination of training, mentoring and coaching to tackle some of the psychological challenges of unemployment. Jacqueline was made redundant at the end of last year. Jacqueline is 57. In her own words, she said she didn't feel as though she had any hope whatsoever of re-entering the workforce. Jacqueline has been part of the Next Steps program, and this is what she said after she had been successful in getting a job with the education department: 'To be told that you are the best candidate for the job is a huge boost to your self-esteem. I've now been working for over six weeks and absolutely love my job.' We understand Australians face barriers to work. That's why we're working with them with these programs to overcome them.