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Students Who Can't Get A Job Will Spend 37 Years On The Dole

The alarming statistic comes from a new report that aims to sell the government's radical changes to the welfare system.

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Young people who can't get a job after studying will spend 37 years of their life on welfare, a new government report has found.

Luis Enrique Ascui / Getty Images

Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found 6,600 students who move from study payments to unemployment benefits will spend an average of 37 years on welfare.

The report shows almost 30% of people who have received study payments will end up on taxpayer funded financial welfare at some stage over the next 60 years.

The future for young carers and young single parents is even worse. 11,000 young carers will spend 43 years on welfare over their lifetime, and 4,370 young single parents are expected to spend 45 years getting income support.

Social services minister Christian Porter argues the data shows a "revolution" is needed in the way the government distributes welfare.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

"We already spend $160 billion on direct welfare payments and what this new data is telling us is that for too many people inside the system, the money flows but nothing changes and lives are not improving," he said.

Porter described Australia's current welfare system as "assembling IKEA furniture in the dark" and something needs to change.

On Wednesday he launched the Australian Priority Investment Approach - the core policy is a $96 million Try, Test and Learn fund, where states and territories and non-government agencies will be able to apply for funding to create programs to break the welfare cycle.

The idea is to intervene early and invest in education, training, counselling and programs to get young people into jobs and stop the family cycle of welfare dependency.

It's based on New Zealand's "investment approach", which has reduced its country's welfare bill by billions but critics say has led to an increase in homelessness.

Greens senator Rachel Siewart visited New Zealand last year to observe its investment system and thinks it misses the mark.

Rachel Siewart / Via Facebook: RachelSiewert

"One thing I learned from my visit is that pulling people off income support, or stopping them from entering the system in the first place, doesn't necessarily improve quality of life," she said.

Two weeks ago the government introduced legislation from the 2014 Abbott-Hockey budget that would make people under the age of 25 wait one month before accessing any form of welfare.

Porter says the four week wait "may well be challenging for a very short period of time" but it is a "huge win".

The Greens disagree, citing evidence from New Zealand that shows 40% of people considered 'job ready' who came off income support ended up back on payments.

"A half-baked version of the New Zealand approach that hones in on sanctioning whilst failing to broadly address poverty will leave us worse off than when we started," she said.

Labor agrees with a long-term investment system, but questions whether it can be done while cutting access to welfare.

"This government is the worst friend young Australians have ever had," opposition leader Bill Shorten said on Tuesday.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

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