Social Security Amendment (National Green Jobs Corps Supplement) Bill 2009: Second Reading

The National Green Jobs Corps will commence on 1 January 2010, giving up to 10,000 young people the opportunity to develop green skills through 26 weeks of accredited training and work experience. This bill, the Social Security Amendment (National Green Jobs Corps Supplement) Bill 2009, amends the Social Security Act 1991 to allow a training supplement of $41.60 per fortnight to be paid to participants in the program who receive Newstart allowance, youth allowance (other) or the parenting payment.

There are important lessons from previous economic downturns which have guided the development of the National Green Jobs Corps and this legislation. In the 1980s and 1990s youth unemployment rose much quicker than the general rate of unemployment. Those young people without skills or qualifications suffered most. During the early 1990s recession, around 40 per cent of early school leavers were not in education or employment six months after leaving school, compared with 12 per cent for those who had completed year 12. Today young people are again the hardest hit. Youth unemployment accounts for over 40 per cent of the increase in unemployment over the last 12 months; many of these young people have not completed high school. That’s why in April the Prime Minister announced the policy of ‘Learn or Earn’. This means that young people under the age of 20 without a year 12 or equivalent qualification must be in education or training in order to qualify for youth allowance. In June the government introduced a training supplement of $41.60 a fortnight to recipients of Newstart or the parenting payment who have not completed year 12 or an equivalent qualification but who start an approved course of study or training between 1 July 2009 and 30 June 2011.

In July the Prime Minister announced the establishment of the National Green Jobs Corp, an environmental training program that will enable young Australians to develop the green skills and experience needed for jobs of the future. It is targeted at the young Australians most vulnerable in the current environment-especially those who have not obtained a year 12 or equivalent qualification. It will provide work experience and training on projects like:

  • Bush regeneration
  • Erosion control
  • Developing community information and education projects
  • Beach and dune rehabilitation
  • Habitat protection

These projects will make environmental improvements now and help develop green skills that will increasingly be needed in the labour market of the future. Participants in the National Green Jobs Corps will undertake work experience and skill development, including 130 hours of accredited training leading to a nationally recognised qualification. To encourage this training-this bill provides for a training supplement of $41.60 per fortnight to be paid to Green Jobs Corps participants who are recipients of Newstart allowance, youth allowance (other) and parenting payment. Young people with a partial capacity to work or young parents will have their hours of participation tailored to their assessed capacity. We know young people are particularly vulnerable in the current economic environment. We know young people who have not completed year 12 or an equivalent are even more vulnerable. That’s why we have targeted assistance to these young people through the National Green Jobs Corps.

This legislation will assist young people to participate in this program. To gain work experience and training. To build the skills in the jobs of the future.

I commend the bill to the House.