In 2008, the rate of youth unemployment stood at just 8.8 per cent. Since the Global Financial Crisis, the number of long term unemployment has increased by 101,000. The Federal Government has introduced a number of programs aimed at helping people to find paid employment and to overcome any barriers to employment. Funding of $1.2 billion has been set aside for a re-vamped and expanded wage subsidies scheme, which will target key groups of unemployed, including young people, single parents, older people, people with disabilities and long-term unemployed people.
A new 4-year $212 million Youth Transitions to Work will support about 19,000 young people who are not in education or employment, and who are at risk of becoming long-term unemployed. This program will target those who are generally past the school leaving age. The National Welfare Rights Network has welcomed the introduction of this scheme which replaced the successful Youth Connections program, which assisted 25,000 young people and was wound up in December 2014. That program focussed on young people of school age who had disengaged or were at risk of disengaging from school, with 74 per cent of those assisted aged under 17. There may be gaps in support for some young people as a result of the re-alignment of these programs, as only 7 or 8 per cent of people aged under 17 will be assisted under the new program (it is thought that these young people should remain in education).
Another raft of initiatives from April 2016 will focus on provision of intensive support to vulnerable job seekers, including new parents, young refugees, and young migrants, worth $105 million.