02 Sep 2017

In less than six months of existence the Turnbull Government’s Youth Jobs PaTH program has not only proved to be a costly failure - but it is also proving Opposition concerns about the serious potential for youth exploitation under the program.
In the last 24 hours reports have emerged that one young person worked up to 58 hours in one week in his placement at a Melbourne cafe - despite the fact the Government said young people would not be forced to work more than 50 hours per fortnight.
This café has now been suspended from the program, but that is too late for the young jobseekers already exploited.
The PaTH program has led to a young Australian working for free as a government-subsidised intern to do 58 hours work without pay – that is a disgrace.
Another intern worked two days for a company without a signed agreement - throwing into doubt government claims that it has the right protective measures in place to stop poor practices affecting young people in the program.
The Government is expecting young people to step forward if exploited but recent cases have shown that young participants aren't confident to do so, or are worried about the implications speaking out might have on their Centrelink payments.
In Senate Estimates Labor has repeatedly asked the government to explain how it will prevent exploitation.
But the Government admitted they weren’t even able to monitor whether it was a large or small business getting a free intern – let alone whether jobseekers are being rorted.
The Turnbull Government is more interested in demonising young jobseekers than helping them get a start in the workforce.
In documents released to Interns Australia under freedom of information, a question and answer briefing by the Department of Employment to the Minister about the internship part of the program asks: “Can an internship be for more than 25 hours per week.”
The government’s first response to this concern is to say: “While it is not encouraged, Internships are voluntary and allows jobs seekers and employers to negotiate the number of hours and duration of a placement.”
This shows the government has never really cared if young interns worked more hours than was permitted.
Besides failing to stop exploitation of young people, the program is consistently failing to meet participation targets – five months into the program only 1,000 young people had been placed as interns.
Yet the overall program expects 30,000 interns to be placed annually. 

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