I have turned my cynical side off and decided to hope that Prime Minister Gillard’s announcement regarding welfare policy is about ensuring the disengaged provided with opportunities to access training and support to enter or reenter the workforce.
In her speech entitled The Dignity of Work to the Sydney Institute yesterday the Prime Minister carefully describes those she sees as the ‘human face’ of the Australia’s ‘patchwork’ economy that has benefited many and has isolated others. I agree with her when she highlights the disparities between the employment rates in boom areas and those in other communities. I also understand that it seems logical that ‘The Salisbury teenager who has drifted from education…could get a job if he got a trade’.
It also seems so very hopeful. The speech lists, seemingly endlessly, those whom the system currently fails, and allows to become the young and the mature aged long term unemployed.
The Prime Minister even went as far as to say: ‘I will fight the prejudice that says some people’s lot is drawing a fortnightly cheque, that we should not expect anything more of them and it does not matter if they are forgotten by policy makers and the society around them.’ Yipee!
Then comes the bit that must have been copied from my last blog post (or maybe it is the redhead vibe): ‘In today’s economy, inclusion through participation must be our central focus. It’s not right to leave people on welfare and deny them access to opportunity.’
It seems that our Prime Minister has worked it out – a booming economy and lots of jobs do not mean anything if those who are looking for work have not been supported to develop the skills they need to take the job opportunities.
But then comes the bit I was waiting for, the bit that makes me worry and the bit that nibbles a little at the perfectly constructed chocolate cake that was my hope…’And every Australian should pull his or her own weight.’
And it is too late, the cynicism for our fearless and her fellow politicians has been switched back on. Before I know it I am hearing Abbot’s words echoing in my ears and know that the focus of the debate will probably be on bludgeoning the so-called bludgers rather than supporting those in need.
Having said that, I think I might let myself hope for a bit longer…their might be room for a little bit if our Prime Minister can lift herself above the rhetoric of cheap shots to say ‘We can genuinely entrench a new culture of work and opportunity in families and communities who have been denied this for so long.’