By Vannessa Hearman
MELBOURNE — The Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Victorian Council of Social Services have scheduled a "Jobs and Justice" rally for September 10.
The rally is one of several joint initiatives announced on August 26. VTHC secretary John Halfpenny said treasurer John Kerin's prediction that unemployment will remain high for about two years was "unacceptable". VCOSS director Robert Hudson was scathing about government economic polices, including Newstart.
Also speaking at the launch was 18 year-old Karen Lourdes, who related her experiences of more than six months of job searching and the harsh contrast between reality and the glow of the classroom. "I always knew that the situation was bad out there, but my friends seem to find jobs quite easily", she told Green Left Weekly later. Unemployment is currently running at 30% among youth.
Despite being been totally discouraged and feeling like she is in "a no win situation", she sees her youth as an advantage compared with the situation facing older workers who fall behind in skills necessary to cope with technological changes. She hoped her participation in the launch of Jobs and Justice would raise awareness of youth unemployment. She also wanted to help create openings for those "worse off than her".
She would like to see the CES and the Department of Social Security take greater interest in the people they are dealing with. She thinks the CES is "uninterested in what you have to say". Karen suggests improved communications between the CES and unemployed people would assist the situation, and there should be more resources for career counselling and training.
Karen is angry at the lack of dignity with which she has been treated. She says employers should play a more constructive role in creating jobs, especially openings for those with less experience.