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The Gillard Labor Government believes that there is nothing more important than successfully managing our nation’s economy so that all Australians have the opportunity to work.
This is why the Government fought so hard to restore people’s working conditions and job security following the Coalition’s introduction of the draconian Work Choices regime.
It is why we stood up and took quick and decisive action when the Global Financial Crisis threatened the jobs of so many Australians.
While 16 million jobs have been lost in other advanced economies, we have seen the creation of more than 700 000 new jobs since coming to Government in 2007.
The Australian economy needs more skilled workers if we are going to successfully take advantage of the minerals boom and manage the challenges of our ageing population.
This presents a great opportunity for Australians who are currently on income support and most particularly those who face significant barriers to gaining employment.
As we head towards a projected unemployment rate of 4.5 per cent our country is faced with a unique chance to transform the lives of jobless Australians and their families – a unique chance to break the cycle of welfare dependency and extend the benefits of work to more Australians.
In a strong labour market, it is critically important that unemployed people who are receiving income support from the Government are engaged with their employment services providers and developing the skills they need to take advantage of the job opportunities available.
Our Government has strengthened Australia’s employment services with the creation of Jobs Services Australia and Disability Employment Services, in order to provide unemployed Australians with the opportunity to train and the opportunity to work.
Since Jobs Services Australia has been operating, more than 440,000 job placements have been made by Job Services Australia providers. Of these almost 34 per cent were jobs for the most disadvantaged job seekers.
We have also uncapped employment services for the first time for people with disability. The new Disability Employment Services program commenced on 1 March 2010 and has over 135,000 participants currently receiving services.
The 2011-12 Budget improves support for our most vulnerable job seekers so that all Australians have the opportunity to enjoy the dignity of work.
We are also committed to introducing tougher rules for jobseekers who are currently receiving welfare payments because we want people to be making the most of opportunities to find work.
These reforms are vital to lifting Australia’s long term prosperity by increasing productivity and workforce participation and they are essential for maintaining our economic growth.