I have been hearing and reading about unemployment in Australia. And having posted numerous comments about ‘Belonging, meaning and connection’ I have been intrigued to hear that jobless teenagers will be denied the dole unless they agree to undertake training under a government plan to prevent the creation of a new generation of long-term unemployed.
And Kevin Rudd has offered state governments part of a $100 million funding pool if they lift Year 12 retention rates toward 90 per cent within six years. Kevin has apparently said that that he would not allow young people made jobless by the recession to “do nothing” and would instead tighten eligibility rules for the youth allowance to press them to gain skills for use during the inevitable recovery. And there is something in here too about lack of eligibility for the parents of unemployed people under 20 years of age. Have I understood all this accurately?
Okay, it is a really good idea to look after our young people. I am all for it. And a really good idea to make sure they are occupied. (Mind you, I could apply the same thinking to people of all ages). And a really good idea to make sure they are included as a meaningful part of our communties, our society. Alll very good.
And yet there is something here about the fine tuning, the language, the meaning, the intention, the motivation for this, and dare I say it, the META meaning and the ‘putting into practice’ of all this that matters. Punitive and coercive? Not really such a fabulous idea. Communicating to our young citizens that we care about them, and that we want them and expect them to be a part of the world and contribute to it? A very good idea. It is, as always, in the background thinking and in the foreground doing. I wonder how it is all working out.