Young at Heart: Our youth face a hard road

OF ALL the measures this new government has introduced, surely the most damaging and dangerous is the refusal to pay an unemployed youth under 30 a benefit of any sort for six months. 

How does he/she live for six months if they cannot find work? The Youth Allowance will barely feed your cat, let alone a human being.

The vast majority of young people dearly want to work, and most can find some sort of work to keep bread on their table, but everyone reading this column today will know of someone who is unable to find or hold a job at this present moment, for a whole raft of reasons. 

This may include mental health problems, general health problems, lack of educational opportunities or the simple inability to be smart enough to perform the tasks required for a particular job.

There really are young people who take several years to mature sufficiently to hold down a job. TAFE was a wonderful opportunity to capture these young people in their 20s when they had matured enough to tackle study and a commitment to work... and had sorted out living arrangements away from their often difficult home environments. But even TAFE is now under threat!

There is such sadness when young people are unable to live at home, for a variety of reasons often around dysfunctional families.  Couch surfing seems the only option and their energies are spent in simply existing from one day to the next, let alone looking for work. Some sleep rough.

My concern for these young people rests in their inability to find a permanent safe and secure environment in which to sleep, let alone find food. 

This homelessness will happen as a result of having no net to support them. It simply means that many will fall back on charity to provide for them for as long as six months, before they can receive the dole. 

Even if a young person wishes to apply for a job, or is offered an interview, how do they find suitable clothes for the interview, how do they arrive for the interview if they can’t pay for a train, bus or tram fare, and how will they start work when they have no money to get there until their first pay check arrives?

This latest imposition on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society leads me to despair. I feel hopeless to know how to help them.

If these young people fall ill, which undoubtedly they will do when they won’t have sufficient food or clothing to survive a winter, will they receive help from any quarter or will they simply end up as another “emergency” in casualty at the local hospital?

Of course there are always the charities to fall back on. They are the heroes and the saviours of so many people. They will be inundated with these young people. 

It is a huge imposition on the many good people who work in the charity field to prop up these young people for six months before they can apply for unemployment benefits. 

Is this the Australia of which we are proud?

I never thought I would be wishing Clive Palmer’s party onto anyone, but if Clive can stop this legislation I will cheer for him.

Homelessness is a terrifying prospect for anyone, let alone these vulnerable young people. A homeless youth cannot always return home. Some situations are simply too difficult for them to deal with. Home is not necessarily a safe place for them.

I can only hope that some compassion returns to this parliament in the coming months. 

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