While there has been plenty of news coverage of a crack down on substance abuse for those receiving the dole, changes announced during this week’s Budget will affect those over 55 in a different way.
Centrelink reforms mean older jobseekers will be forced to look harder for work, and it’s a shakeup set to affect over 300,000 Australians.
Starting on September 2o next year over 60s will have to do either study, work experience or volunteer work for at least five hours a week. It is part of an Annual Activity Requirement.
Currently Job seekers aged 55 years and over have a concessional activity test option: they may satisfy the activity test if they undertake at least 30 hours per fortnight of approved and suitable voluntary work, paid work (including self-employment) or a combination of the two. Come next September if you are aged 55 to 59 years old you will no longer be able to do volunteer work to meet that 30 hours, although there will be some exemptions. Voluntary work will only meet half the requirements.
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The changes follow a two-year review of Centrelink that is meant to reduce the number and complexity of government benefits.
Volunteering Australia said it was disappointed that this year’s federal budget had “completely overlooked” the sector. Volunteering Australia CEO Adrienne Picone told Pro Bono News it was particularly “concerning” in light of the many measures in the budget around employment. “They haven’t actually acknowledged the role that volunteering plays as a potential pathway to employment,” Adrienne Picone said.