Welfare changes to cause problems: Salvo captain

Salvation Army Captain and divisional social program secretary Claire Emerton. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

Salvation Army Captain and divisional social program secretary Claire Emerton. PICTURE: KATE HEALY

THE housing system is at breaking point as Salvation Army youth transitional homes are at capacity, with no affordable housing for people to move to. 

Salvation Army divisional social program secretary Captain Claire Emerton said the shortage of places for struggling youths to move to – combined with a fear of impending federal government changes – was causing problems. 

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In particular, Ms Emerton highlighted the change in rules which dictated

that people under 30 would have to wait six months before they qualified for Newstart.

“I think one of the biggest impacts for us is we don’t just deal with young people; we deal with a lot of families ... who are already struggling to make ends meet, to stay in accommodation and all that sort of stuff. 

“If one of their children falls into the category of the six months with no support, it could push a family over the edge in terms of both accommodation and food,” she said. 

“I think that is the case, there is a whole lot of different pressures on young people and that is what causes them to come and see us.

“Looking forward to what the budget is going to do in this space is quite scary.” 

Cuts in other areas concerning young people will also hit the Salvation Army, with Ms Emerton saying it deals with young people at crisis point – highlighting the importance of having education safety nets. 

“We deal with crisis stuff and if they are not able to do the training or don’t have the education, and drop out of that system early, it most likely means a lifetime of dependence on welfare support,” she said. 

“I think there is often a demonising that happens of young people.

“Some of the rhetoric that is coming from the government is about blame and young people not pulling their weight – and that denies some the complexities that exist for young people. 

“A lot of young people who end up in disadvantage come from a background of disadvantage. They are not necessarily slackers or dole bludgers, but they have experienced some really difficult things in their lives.”

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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