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MEDIA ALERT: Unemployed workers to hold “mini employment summit” on parliament lawns today
Event organised by unemployed advocates will go ahead despite being denied approval
At 10:10am today unemployed advocates will hold a “mini employment summit” outside parliament to protest the government’s neglect of people locked out of paid work and those who rely on Centrelink payments to live. Unemployed advocates were not included among the 142 Jobs and Skills Summit invitees.
Note: As we were denied permission to hold our planned event, we request members of the general public do not attend. The picnic that was announced will not be going ahead.
The Antipoverty Centre and Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union have invited government ministers and other politicians to join us and hear the stories of long-term unemployed people who aren’t benefiting from the tight labour market. We will share the views of welfare recipients on their barriers to work and proposals for government to consider at the Jobs and Skills Summit.
The plan involved a larger number of in-person speakers, however the Department of Parliamentary Services refused our application for this small event and picnic. As we are forced to hold the event without permission, to minimise risk for participants only a small number of welfare recipients will attend to share their story on the lawns, and will read out contributions from others who were scheduled to appear.
In-person participants will take questions from journalists, and others who have contributed will be available for interview over the phone. A recording of the event will also be made available.
Time: 10:10am (speakers commence at 10:20am)
Date: Friday 2 September 2022
Location: Commencement Column, Federation Mall
Media contact: 0413 261 362, media at antipovertycentre.org.au
People who rely on Centrelink payments and others on low incomes who would like to participate by providing comments to be read out should send a message to email@example.com.
Full employment fixation masks poverty crisis
The stage managed Jobs and Skills Summit is designed to soften the ground for the government’s pre-determined agenda, which will be formalised in the full employment white paper due to be published shortly after the summit.
Unemployed people should be the most important stakeholders in employment policy and so-called full employment is not working for many of us. According to the Department of Social Services there are still 900,000 people depending on unemployment payments – more than before the pandemic, when the unemployment rate was 5.1 percent.1
As the government refused to include unemployed advocates in the Jobs and Skills Summit, we have taken things into our own hands and are coming to them. Our shadow “mini employment summit” is an opportunity for people who aren’t benefiting from the apparent surge in employment opportunities, who still depend on welfare payments as low as half the poverty line, to have their voices heard.
While the government has signalled its intention to maintain full employment, this is no substitute for a genuinely safe safety net. Right now, Centrelink payments are so low and “mutual” obligations so punitive that they stop us getting paid work. There is no excuse for using the social security system to punish people, force us into unsafe, underpaid jobs and exploit our free labour in Work for the Dole.
About the Antipoverty Centre
The Antipoverty Centre was established in May 2021 by people living on Centrelink payments to counter problems with academics, think tanks and others in the political class making harmful decisions on behalf of people they purport to represent.
We have deep expertise in poverty, disadvantage and unemployment, because we live it. Our goal is to help ensure the voices and rights of people living in poverty are at the centre of social policy development and discourse. We believe there should be no decision made about us without us.
The Antipoverty Centre is not aligned with any political party and does not accept funding that places political constraints on our work.