The government has slashed its unpopular waiting period for jobless Aussies by five months as part of a much more lenient budget approach to Generation Y.
The ditched measure would have required Australians under the age of 30 applying for Newstart and Youth Allowance benefits to wait half a year, thereby saving $1.2 billion.
The delay has been reduced to four weeks, official budget papers released on Tuesday afternoon confirmed, along with a number of other sweeteners aimed at helping the young find work.
“The level of youth unemployment in Australia is too high,” Treasurer Joe Hockey told parliament during his budget speech on Tuesday evening.
Helping the young and disadvantaged “get their start” was the new message of the Treasurer, who will completely avoid confrontational terms like ‘lifters and leaners’.
A total of about $6 billion will be ‘invested’ in training for apprentices and vocational students, the government has claimed.
Part of this spending will include 7,500 scholarships of up to $7,500 to incentivise employers to hire and train young people.
The government also announced a $375 million youth employment package over the next four years to get young Australians job ready and unemployed.
A further $18 million will be spent on a national work experience programme for around 6,000 job seekers, and some community organisations will be paid up to $2,000 to help “disengaged” 15-18 year olds return to school, start vocational training or find a job.
The change in rhetoric was significant, even if some of the spending was not (although the reduced welfare waiting periods would cost $1.8 billion over five years, the budget estimated).
Despite the shift, the budget did announce some new crackdowns.
From 1 July 2016, welfare recipients who shirk appointments and fail to meet work-for-the-dole requirements will have their payments cut immediately.
The government also intends to clean up rorting in the vocational training sector with an $18.2 million “enhanced compliance regime”.
The regime, to cost $18.2 million over four years, will “prohibit inappropriate market practices and protect vulnerable students”.