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Bass Coast battles unemployment

UNEMPLOYMENT and onset homelessness is being tackled in Bass Coast.

According to Bass Coast Shire Council’s 2015-16 annual report, the unemployment rate was at 6.7 percent, an increase from just under 5.7 percent in 2014-15.

A meeting with the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union was held in Corinella recently.

The meeting aimed the shed light on the rights of people accessing the welfare system, with people encouraged to share their experiences.

“We were pleased to welcome Ewen Kloas, Melbourne vice president of the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union to Corinella and District Community Centre on a wild and rainy day,” co-convenor of the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union Wonthaggi Branch Jessica Harrison said.

“Ewen explained that job agencies are only entitled to ask unemployed people for regular contact and an agreed number of job searches. Negotiation of your ‘obligations’ is important and knowing your rights is essential.”

Amongst the meeting goers was Cr Geoff Ellis, who said the job search could be a daunting task for people living in outlining towns.

“The situation of unemployed people in Corinella and Coronet Bay worries me greatly. There are virtually no jobs, hardly any public transport and no staffed Centrelink offices, which makes it even harder to access help and attend interviews or appointments,” he said.

“For those who need to use the bus service, it could be a day long trip just to go to Wonthaggi.”

Cr Ellis said he was astounded by some of nationwide statistics in terms of homelessness. What really grabbed his attention was the fact six percent of the Australian population sleeps rough, meaning the other 94 percent goes unnoticed because they are sleeping in cars or on people’s lounges.

He also said the percentage of women over 50 sleeping in cars has risen significantly over the last two years.

“Homelessness is not yet an obvious issue in Bass Coast, but it could be going down that path,” Cr Ellis said.

“Caravan parks – where people could once live on meagre salaries – are now more up market, so there’s an uncertain future.

“My worst fear is that we end up with a situation like Melbourne. You walk down Elizabeth Street and people will be sleeping on the footpath, and everyone else walks past like it’s a fact of life. We don’t want to get to that point; Bass Coast is a lot more compassionate than that.”

Cr Ellis said he would continue to work with the local Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union branch on the ground level to measure the extent of the unemployed and homeless issue in Bass Coast, and work out a way to help them.

In the meantime, Cr Ellis encouraged those who need a bit of extra help to use the food bank at the Corinella and District Community Centre.

The food bank is packed with the essentials from Monday to Friday to provide short term aid for those who need a bit of support to get through the week.

The Wonthaggi Branch of the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union meets at midday on the first Monday of the month at the Harvest Centre, behind Wonthaggi Neighbourhood Centre.

Supporting Bass Coast: Bass Coast’s Burt Blackburne, Mark Robertson, Margaret Williamson, Jessica Harrison, Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union vice president Ewen Kloas, Cr Geoff Ellis and John Carson discuss rights in the welfare system at a recent meeting.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=22745

Posted by on Oct 3 2017. Filed under Community. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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