Breaking away from traditional work arrangements and finding new industries could be key to reducing unemployment rates in the Queensland seat of Hinkler, a community leader has said.
- Hinkler has the second highest youth unemployment rate in Queensland
- Hervey Bay Neighborhood Center says businesses must meet the needs of young people
- Bundaberg employment project manager says there are jobs available but more could be done to help young people get jobs
Hinkler encompasses the towns of Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, extending inland to Howard and Childers.
With youth unemployment nearly double the national average, community leaders are demanding action from election candidates.
“Young people tend to leave the area so they can go to college and continue their education or get jobs they can grow into,” said Hervey Bay Neighborhood Center executive director Tanya Stevenson.
“Historically, our businesses are mainly in the hotel and tourism industry.
The neighborhood center recently secured federal funding to expand a program for ages 13 to 36 with job readiness classes and job coaches.
Ms Stevenson said finding work in the area was difficult for young job seekers and it was time to rethink.
“Our younger generations are more flexible in their work and they are very happy to have this work/life balance,” she said.
Second highest rate in the state
The unemployment rate for 15-24 year olds on the Fraser Coast sits at 16.5%, according to the Queensland Government’s Office of the Statistician – well above the state average of 10.4% and second highest state high.
Nationally, the rate is 9.3%, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Hinkler LNP holder Keith Pitt said he held his record.
“I delivered one of Australia’s first regional deals over $170m Commonwealth and $600m for Paradise Dam,” he said.
“I know they’ve done some tough stuff, and locally we’ve done some tough stuff in terms of policies around the cashless debit card.”
Cashless card controversy
The cashless debit card scheme has been controversial since it was introduced to the Fraser Coast region in early 2019 as a form of revenue management that limits how money is spent by aid recipients social.
The card cannot be used to withdraw cash or purchase certain items such as alcohol, gambling and certain gift cards.
The program is to continue in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay until the end of the year.
Hinkler independent candidate Jack Dempsey, a former LNP minister of state and mayor of Bundaberg, said he would increase productivity to ensure positive change.
“We need to get rid of this negative cashless card and be able to get people into decent jobs,” he said.
“We need funding for our schools, hospitals and other institutions to improve the quality of skilled workers, then we can help solve the housing crisis.
“We would be able to address habitability and lifestyle, whether it’s projects like flood mitigation in Bundaberg and securing water here in Hervey Bay.
“It’s general, but local members have had nine years to think the rest of Australia will change and that will change the unemployment numbers here.”
The Labor candidate for Hinkler, Jason Scanes, did not respond to requests for comment from the ABC.
Opportunity for job seekers
Despite high youth unemployment, Bundaberg jobs project manager Jo Donnison said there were vacancies.
“Our main sectors of employment are health and social care, agriculture, education, hospitality and tourism,” she said.
“We have the most advertised jobs we’ve ever had.
“There are certainly opportunities for further training and reskilling in our region.”
Ms Donnison said there was help available for those who needed it, but more could be done to get people back to work.
“For young people coming into the workforce for the very first time, there’s a lot of support for them just in terms of how do we help them find those jobs and how do we help them stay there,” she said.
Loading the form…