Official opening of the Mission Australia Job Services Australia, Surry Hills

Speech
  • Minister for Employment Participation
  • Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Government Service Delivery

I’m delighted to be here obviously because this is the Government’s vision for Job Services. When we made the changes to Job Services Australia earlier this year we started on day one, this is exactly what we envisaged.

The old system was really about a conveyor belt. It was just ‘find people a job’. It didn’t matter what their barriers for employment were, it didn’t matter if they lasted in the job it was just get them out of the Job Network and get them into employment.

For a lot of people that worked. There’s no doubt about it. They found a lot of jobs but for a lot of people especially people who are disadvantaged, people from an Indigenous background, people with a disability, people dealing with homelessness, the old system was failing, absolutely failing. So the changes that the Government put in place really were about integrating the services, ensuring that organisations like Mission could specialise their services to people from a disadvantaged background and I’m very proud to say we’re only three and a half months into Job Services Australia and we’ve already placed 89,000 job seekers into employment which is a great start.

But most important, 40 per cent of those placements come from Stream 3 and Stream 4 which are the most disadvantaged of our job seekers so to all those people who are involved here, thank you for the work you’re doing.

Today is the official opening of course, but you didn’t begin your services today it started on July 1, so thank you for the work you’ve been doing. And that’s why I’m so happy to be here.

When I started in this role in July, day one, I really became acquainted with the work that Mission is doing, the work that Toby is doing. The Prime Minister was going down to Heidelberg in Melbourne and he was visiting the project that Mission had put together, an urban renewal project, and it was for young men and women who were long-term unemployed, had been out of the workforce for years.

I’ve always known the importance of employment, everyone knows the importance of employment. You can remember back to when you got your first job, how happy you were, how proud you were, how proud your parents were. But I don’t think I really understood it, the importance of employment.

So I went to this project in Heidelberg. When we drove up it was teeming down with rain, it was freezing, it was like zero degrees and I walked up and there were four young men digging a trench in the middle of these terrible conditions and they were beaming, every one of them was beaming. They were ecstatic to be out there in those conditions actually doing the job.

When I spoke to them, all of them had spent years and years and years really out of labour market. One of them said to me he had spent most of his life sitting on the couch watching TV and he was just so happy to be doing this and he could see his goals. He told me he wanted to be the next Jamie Durie, which was really outstanding.

Employment is so important. If you want to break the cycle of disadvantaged, if you want to assist people out of homelessness then employment is the way to do it. Under the old system it wasn’t working, as I’ve said. Now we have the model that Mission has set up here, of integrated service.

In terms of when you’re dealing with homelessness, it is a complex, complex problem. The counsellors and the caseworkers here had to deal with things like health, ailments, they had to deal with transport issues, they have to deal with of course accommodation, they have to deal with family breakdown.

There is no use finding a person a job if they are homeless unless you deal with those barriers. That’s the easy bit, finding the job, anyone can find the job. But if you put someone into that job without dealing with the barriers then you are setting them up to fail and we’ve seen it time and time again. You find them a job and they’re gone within the first week, the first month and the problem with that is you set the job seeker back years, you set the employer back and the cycle continues.

That is why I am so proud to be involved in what Mission is doing here at the MAC (Mission Australia Centre) and I’m so happy to be able to officially launch it today so on behalf of the Australian Government, on behalf of the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Congratulations and thank you to all those involved and I’m happy to officially launch Job Services Australia. Thank you.

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