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Volunteering Australia have provided a response to Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017.
This submission focuses on Schedule 9 of the Bill, which is aimed at strengthening the employment focus of Mutual Obligations for job seekers aged 55 to 59 from 20 September 2018. Volunteering Australia is strongly opposed to the proposed amendment.
Currently, people aged 55 to 59 are required to carry out 30 hours of activity per fortnight to meet their mutual obligation requirements. The person may fulfill this requirement by doing 30 hours of volunteering alone. The proposed amendments outline that 15 of the 30 hours per fortnight must be allocated to job search or another job-related activity, like Work for the Dole.
This represents a large cohort of people who were previously volunteering, but will now have to cease this activity if the proposed amendment is passed.
Volunteering Australia emphasizes that the tightening of the Activity Requirements will:
- Do little to improve the job prospects of older Australians, which are an already disadvantaged group in the job market, and affect their compliance.
- Move people away from volunteering positions, that will have a detrimental impact on the volunteering sector.
- Affect the service provision, workforce capacity and the long-term financial viability of Volunteering Support Services and Volunteer-Involving Organisations, who provide essential services to the community.
Volunteering can be an effective way to engage in society, act as a pathway back to gainful employment, encourage economic participation, build work skills, and keep people healthy and active.