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Young People Should Consider Four Week Wait For Dole A "Huge Win", Government Says

Jobs and a four week wait.

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Social services minister Christian Porter says making young people wait four weeks before they are eligible to receive dole payments may be "challenging", but in the long run it will be a "huge win".

Lukas Coch / AAP

Porter dismissed complaints from social services groups that the four week wait is unfair, and confirmed there will be no increase to the Newstart Allowance of $266 a week.

Two weeks ago the government introduced legislation that would force people under the age of 25 to wait one month before they can access any form of financial welfare, in the hope they will find a job and not need to quality for Newstart.

Despite reducing the wait time from the Abbott-era proposal of six months to four weeks, the bill is currently stalled in the Senate.

"I would maintain that it is a very sound measure and what this data shows us, interestingly, is that there's a great ability, particularly for young people to find jobs quickly," Porter said on Tuesday.

"If you can prevent an unnecessary entry then that is a fantastic thing for the life of the person overall, even though it might present a 4-week challenge at the beginning."

Porter says the measures only apply to stream A jobseekers - those considered to be the most "job ready" - claiming more young people will be exempt from the wait than those it will apply to.

"It's meant to specifically target the people that we know, based on data like this, have the greatest show and capacity to get employment early."

But officials from the department of social services admitted to a Senate committee that there has been no modelling that suggests enforcing a waiting time results in young people getting a job.

Porter hopes the policy will turn young people aware from the system early and avoid a lifetime dependency on welfare, and that's a "huge win".

"It may well be challenging for a very short period of time but it is a huge win."

Mission Australia has labelled the wait a punishment to unemployed young people, as there is only one job available for every six job seekers.

The national unemployment rate is at 5.6%, with youth unemployment at about 14%.

A report by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found 30% of young people who can’t get a job after studying, will spend 37 years of their life on welfare.

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.

The Greens say the government doesn't understand the fundamental problem that people accessing Newstart as well as other payments are living below the poverty line and far below the minimum wage.

"For instance, if you’re a single person accessing Newstart and the maximum rate of rent assistance, you are still below half the minimum wage," Senator Rachel Siewert said.

The Australian Council of Social Service have asked the government to increase welfare payments by $7.7 billion over the next four years, arguing the current payments are not adequate for the 77,000 Australians living off $38 a day. Minister Porter has rejected this suggestion.

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

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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