Sunday, July 28, 2013

Labor mulls boot camp for young job seekers

Young job seekers would be forced into tough army-style boot camps to qualify for the dole, under an election policy being considered by the Rudd government.

The Youth Start Boot Camp was tabled as a future election policy in a submission that has been leaked to Fairfax Media. It was put to the Labor government's powerful expenditure review committee by ministers Bill Shorten and Kate Ellis in May.

Senior government sources said the army-style camps - which are designed to impose strict disciplinary regimes - remained on the table as an election policy for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The idea was framed as a possible vote winner for the government and was slated to be announced before August 15, if accepted.

Fairfax has an outline of the written submission, which was discussed during a meeting of then Gillard government ministers putting up election campaign strategy proposals to the committee. Although the submission and initial meeting took place while Julia Gillard was prime minister, high-ranking government sources insist the proposal is still on the table.

Asked if the proposal was still under consideration, a spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said: "The government does not publicly discuss the submissions that come before the expenditure review committee of cabinet."

Mr Shorten, who is now Education Minister, and Ms Ellis, who remains Workplace Participation minister, also declined to comment.

But a senior government source said the submission was still alive. "Whatever the official word, this has not been taken off the table," the source said. "Not everything has been thrown out with the change of leadership."

The proposal calls for $70 million over four years to be reallocated from Jobs Services Australia providers into other programs to "assist young job seekers and provide campaigning opportunities".

Early school leavers aged between 15 and 21 are the target.

A wide variety of wilderness and adventure boot camps are in place across Australia, ranging from those teaching discipline, presentation and attitude to those aimed at young repeat offenders.

The Queensland government is testing an early intervention youth boot camp that will focus on young people at risk of long-term offending.

In Sydney, BoysTown mixes adventure-based learning, sport and outdoor activities with employment programs to help people aged 15 to 25.  More than 84 per cent of the youths in BoysTown programs have not completed year 10.  Nearly half have never had a job or came from families that had a history of welfare dependency.

"Employers tell us there are two major things that they look for: competence and character," said John Perry, BoysTown's employment, education and training manager.

A study by Monash University found 61 per cent of participants in BoysTown programs found full-time employment, and nearly 12 per cent found part-time or casual work.

The Brahminy Foundation's wilderness camp, 200 kilometres from Darwin, is for some of society's most troubled and unemployable youths, including some from NSW.

Founder Allan Brahminy said his camps were tough and intense. But he stressed there was a therapeutic element to the programs. They included stays of up to a year, with 21-day wilderness hikes comprising five days' kayaking and more than 100 kilometres of walking.

Mr Brahminy is negotiating with NSW Police and others to open a residence west of Bourke.

As he spoke to Fairfax Media on Friday, a troubled youth was digging his fourth hole one metre deep and one metre wide.

"We're not a holiday camp," he said, adding that his wilderness camps had "zero tolerance" for poor behaviour.

In the ministerial submission, the ministers highlighted in bold their proposal for a Youth Start Boot Camp and explained that: "Unemployed young people will participate in an army boot camp and pre-employment training."

Other options mooted were community work experience for unemployed youth, first job programs for youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, and a combination of all of the measures including rigorous boot camps.

The submission complains about poor recognition for the existing program, which funds providers to deliver targeted assistance in the form of structured activities of up to 25 hours a week to build life, study and employment skills. It says there is "scant data on delivery rate and outcomes".

Boot camps were proposed as a better option.

"Youth unemployment is a growing problem that we need to address," the submission reads. "There are opportunities to partner with business, particularly big business, and to end intergenerational unemployment for young people."


Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison flags Coalition support for PNG solution

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says a Coalition government would be prepared to keep Labor's Papua New Guinea asylum seeker policy.

Mr Rudd announced on July 19 his plan to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea for assessment.

The arrangement sees asylum seekers who are assessed to be genuine refugees resettled in PNG.

When the policy was first announced, Mr Morrison said the Coalition would try to salvage parts of the proposal.

He told Insiders this morning that he remains sceptical about whether the plan can be implemented, but gave a stronger indication the Coalition would be prepared to keep it.

"We will salvage everything from this arrangement and we will do everything we have said we can do," he said.

"At the end of the day, it's implementation of policies that counts, not big, bold announcements."

Mr Morrison said the arrangement would only be a part of a much larger suite of policies that would be implemented, including intercepting boats and the use of temporary protection visas.

"The PM can't actually say that that (the PNG solution) can be achieved at the moment and he hasn't got an agreement for it ... he hasn't got any legislation in Papua New Guinea to back it up," Mr Morrison said.  "It is not a done deal. It is just not in that situation.

"The claim he's making at the moment is not one that he can substantiate.

"Why won't Kevin Rudd do this (the PNG solution) and turn-backs, why won't he do this and expand offshore processing on Nauru, why won't he do this and coordinate 15 agencies that are trying to work in this area?  "That's what we're saying."


Big black brawl in Melbourne

Police have arrested a 27-year-old man after a large brawl broke out in Melbourne's west early this morning.

Officers say more than 80 people were involved in the fight outside a function centre in Albion, where crowds had gathered to celebrate Liberia's independence day.

"People at the party informed us that... people from another African country had attended the scene and caused the trouble," Sergeant Mick Downe said.

Two men were rushed to Sunshine Hospital, one with facial injuries and the other with a stab would to his chest.

He has since been taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and is in a serious condition.

Police arrived at the site at 3am but the fight was already over and the crowd had largely dispersed.

"No units were able to attend at the time because there was no units available... (we) had to get units from the city to come," Sergeant Downe said.

"The units attended en masse, about 15 units, the fighting had stopped at this stage."

He said police were not aware that the function was on.

Police arrested a 27-year-old man from Western Australia who is helping with their investigations.


America is not the land of opportunity. Australia is

Surveys of income mobility reveal that for all the rhetoric of being a "land of opportunity", America's poor have less chance of becoming rich than Australia's poor do.

The great mythology of America, of rags to riches, is actually statistically more likely to happen here. Australia, the land of the free.

A 2007 study by economist and federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh found the income of Australian sons are less determined by their fathers' pay packets than American sons.

Not only is Australia home to less extremes of wealth and poverty, it is also easier for Australians to move between the two extremes.

Australia has managed to achieve this despite our high influx of migration. In America, around one in ten Americans was born oversees. In Australia, it's one in four. We have managed to absorb great waves of immigration and come out the stronger for it.

It's harder to look at a person in the street in Australia and know, just by their ethnicity or the colour of their skin, how rich they are. According to the study by Leigh, it is this difference in the income mobility of immigrants in Australia that makes us so much more mobile than Americans.


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