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Brotherhood of St Laurence - Working for an Australia free of poverty Brotherhood Update - Research and policy update from the Brotherhood of St Laurence

December 2020

For many Australians this has been a very tough year. As we begin to see signs of recovery from the economic crisis triggered by COVID-19, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence celebrates its 90th anniversary (see What's On). Ending poverty in Australia is not about a quick fix, it takes sustained commitment – something we’re committed to as much now as we when we began.

In this last issue of Brotherhood Update for 2020, we report on our current research and policy work aiming to bring about change that lasts – in the systems that shape vocational training, participation of people with disability, and income support for people who are unemployed.

Find out more on our website at www.bsl.org.au/research.

Please share Brotherhood Update with your colleagues and encourage them to subscribe.

Our best wishes for a safe, refreshing and peaceful break.

REPORT Counting everyone on Newstart

What can daily, event-based data tell us about how many Australians receive unemployment benefits, how consistently and for how long? A study of Newstart Allowance (NSA) data from 2001 to 2016 reveals some significant misunderstandings. For example, while longer-term reliance on NSA is an important policy issue, short-term reliance is underestimated.
Read the report by researchers from the Australian National University, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence and RMIT University

Everyone counts: uncovering patterns of Newstart Allowance (PDF, 634 KB).

INSGHT How vocational training can aid youth recovery from COVID-19

Young woman in overalls cradling kitten

Supporting youth employment in the long-term recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 will require investment in areas such as vocational training that is aligned with emerging labour demands and provides pathways into sustained work.

Read the latest of our COVID-19 Insights, Youth and vocational education and training, by Kira Clarke, Joseph Borlagdan and Shelley Mallett

Catch up on other issues of uur COVID-19 Insights, highlighting how groups of Australians are affected, and proposing policy responses for an equitable recovery.

REPORT The double whammy of youth unemployment and underemployment

Resume and protective mask

The economic crisis brought on by COVID-19 has led to record levels of youth unemployment and underemployment, which had remained high following the GFC. Both young women and young men have been hit hard, though in different ways.

To date, recovery has been mainly in part-time employment. Rebuilding an economy that enables young people to move into decent jobs and gain long-term economic security will require careful, focused investment.

Read our analysis COVID the great disruptor: another blow to youth unemployment (PDF, 262 KB)

Subscribe to our Youth Unemployment Monitor

POLICY Opening up TAFEs to students with disability

Circular array of coloured pencils

Too often, prospective students with disability are required to adapt to existing, siloed systems instead of institutions developing processes that support learners’ needs and connect them with employers and communities. To improve access to TAFE for learners with disability we must shift from a system-centred to a person-centred approach.

Read our Submission to Inquiry into access to TAFE for learners with disability (PDF, 254 KB)

POLICY Aim high for new disability strategy

The next National Disability Strategy must be ambitious, building on the foundations of the NDIS but going further. It must be owned by people with disability and hold both governments and communities accountable for achieving inclusion, equity and empowerment for all.

Read our joint submission with Mission Australia regarding the National Disability Strategy beyond 2020 (PDF, 386 KB)

PAPER How well-planned purchasing can support employment

Man operating machine

Research by RPC team member and 2019 Victorian Parliamentary Library Fellow, Maria Mupenemunda, shows that linking employment policy objectives to public sector procurement has considerable potential, provided certain conditions are met.

Read Maria's paper, The promise of social procurement: leveraging purchasing power to create inclusive employment opportunities, Library Fellowship Paper, Parliamentary Library & Information Service, Parliament of Victoria, Melbourne.

DATA Social exclusion update

High-rise public housing block

More than 1.2 million Australians faced deep social exclusion in 2018, in spite of two decades of overall national prosperity, according to our analysis of Wave 18 data from the annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey.

Explore more of the findings in our updated Social Exclusion Monitor.

Developed by the Brotherhood of St. Laurence and the Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic and Social Research, the monitor is a way of measuring multiple overlapping kinds of disadvantage as such as unemployment, poor health and inadequate education.

POLICY Compulsion inappropriate for cashless welfare

Banknotes, coins, calculator and notebook

Compulsion is the most harmful feature of income management via the Cashless Debit Card, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence has argued in a joint policy submission with FamilyCare. This feature also puts the policy at odds with Australia’s financial services system, which is based on informed choice.

Read the Joint submission to Senate inquiry into Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Continuation of Cashless Welfare) Bill 2020 (PDF, 176 KB)