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Sustainable employment for disadvantaged jobseekers

VCOSS submission to the Parliament of Victoria’s Economy and Infrastructure Standing Committee Inquiry

Paid work plays a central role in the lives of many Victorians, providing the foundations for a good life.

However, it is not the case that ‘any job is a good job’. For some Victorians, insecure or otherwise poor quality jobs perpetuate existing health, social and/or economic inequities, and do not provide a pathway out of disadvantage.

Consequently, while VCOSS emphatically believes that employment is a key aspect of a ‘good life’ – a foundation stone for social and economic inclusion – it is important to recognise that for some of the most disadvantaged jobseekers, poor quality jobs are perpetuating or compounding their disadvantage, or precipitating disadvantage.

The market cannot be relied on to fix these problems. Governments have a key role to play.

This submission identifies the types of jobseekers who experience disadvantage in the labour market in Victoria and key actions that can be taken by the Victorian Government to deliver on the promise that participation holds. There are six key themes underpinning this submission:

  1. People aspire to a ‘good life’ – not a life of disadvantage.
  2. Disadvantage results from an interaction of structural factors and individual experiences.
  3. Unemployment, underemployment and poverty are largely caused by structural factors over which individuals have no control. Governments have access to power, legislative, regulatory and policy levers, and other tools and resources that can mitigate, moderate or otherwise influence these structural factors.
  4. Policies and programs targeted to disadvantaged jobseekers should not punish people for their circumstances. The most impactful approaches build on people’s resilience and strengths, and provide individualised ‘wraparound’ support.
  5. Disadvantage is not a fixed state. There are opportunities to prevent labour market disadvantage, to act early on emerging risk factors, and to respond.
  6. Place-based strategies can empower people to develop and drive innovative community solutions to issues such as unemployment.

 

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