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Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Helping parents get back to work

The Australian’s Working Together package contains funding of $251 million to provide extra help for people receiving the Parenting Payment.

Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Vanstone said parents would have access to a range of extended training, employment and support services, such as new outside-school-hours child care places from July 2001.

“Parents receiving Parenting Payment whose youngest child is at least age six will have an interview with a Centrelink Personal Adviser once a year to discuss what they could do to get ready to work and what support is available,” Senator Vanstone said.

“Parents who attend these interviews will work with the Centrelink Personal Adviser to establish the best possible options for each individual and work out a plan that best suits their needs and aspirations.

“Those with a youngest child aged between 13 and 15 will need to undertake part-time paid work, community work, study or training for around six hours per week to help prepare them to find work.

“At the moment, many parents who stay at home lose contact with the job market and let their skills run down. We think that it is unfair and unrealistic to expect these parents to be suddenly catapulted back into the job market and expect them to find work without any preparation or assistance.

“Parents will have access to the new Transition to Work programme that provides intensive assistance for people who have been away from work for a long time or who have never worked before.

“The Transition To Work programme will combine a range of individual and flexible services to help people with specialised advice, including training, financial assistance, referral to training courses and how to get into the jobs market.

“For many people who haven’t worked for a long time the thought of going back to work can be daunting – this initiative will help people earlier so that the transition is made easier,” Senator Vanstone said.

“A comprehensive information pack will also be given to people receiving Parenting Payment. The Participation Pack will give details about local support services, including employment services and include details on financial help and incentives to take up study, training or paid work as well as information about the benefits of working and tips on job search.

“Parents will be further encouraged to work with the introduction of the Working Credit that will help those doing part-time or casual work to keep more of the money they earn.

“It is important to note that many mothers with school age children already do some form of paid work, so we are looking at helping those who need the extra support to find a job.

“This initiative is about helping parents at the earliest possible stage to consider their working future, and more importantly, giving them the advice and support so that they have every chance of find work.”