The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

22 August 2011

NO.096

Joint Media Release
with
Senator the Hon Christopher Evans
Minister for Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations,
Senator The Hon Kim Carr
Minister for Innovation and Industry
The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Minister for Human Services

Gillard Labor Government to Support Workers and Steel Communities

The Gillard Labor Government will provide immediate and practical support to affected workers and communities following BlueScope Steel's decision to reduce its operations.

These support measures are in addition to the new advance facility announced by the Government today that will allow BlueScope to bring forward up to $100 million of payments under the Government's Steel Transformation Plan.

The Gillard Labor Government is standing shoulder to shoulder with the communities of the Illawarra and Mornington Peninsula in these tough times, with practical support to help workers find new jobs and strengthen local economies. The Government's package of worker and community support includes:

  • An Investment and Innovation Fund of $30 million to support new business ventures and create innovative, high-skilled jobs, predominantly in manufacturing and manufacturing services in the region. This fund will be made up of $20 million from the Commonwealth Government and further contributions of $5 million from the NSW State Government and $5 million from BlueScope Steel.
  • Assistance of up to $10 million from the Commonwealth Government for immediate access to intensive services by Job Services Australia providers and training assistance to help affected workers find work in industries where there are more job opportunities.
  • The appointment of Dr Don Russell, Secretary of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, to lead a whole-of-Government response to the BlueScope announcement and to work with local stakeholders on a coordinated structural adjustment strategy for the region.
  • A Local Employment Coordinator to provide practical advice at the local level and ensure workers get the help they need when they need it.  The Local Employment Coordinator will also build partnerships between government, business and the community to generate economic activity and jobs in the local economy. 
  • Onsite visits by Job Services Australia staff, Local Employment Coordinator and Centrelink. In addition, a dedicated hotline to fast-track referrals to Jobs Services Australia or alternative service providers who will help individuals to find new employment, taking into account their specific circumstances.
  • Fast-tracked relocation assistance for BlueScope workers who have been made redundant and who find employment in another location.  Normally, a person must have been unemployed for three months before becoming eligible for this assistance - however BlueScope workers who have been made redundant will be immediately eligible for payments of up to $6000 of relocation assistance, with an additional $3000 in the case of families with dependent children.
  • Free financial advice provided through Centrelink's network of Financial Information Service Officers, and other personal support through Centrelink's network of Social Workers.

This comprehensive response will be monitored and reviewed to ensure the measures are effective in meeting the needs of businesses, workers and the communities. The Government will respond further if necessary to ensure the affected communities make a successful economic transition.

For information about any of the assistance available in this package, call the Australian Government Bluescope Support Hotline on 1800 107 233.

As the causes of BlueScope's decision are a result of broader economic factors - particularly the high Australian dollar - which are impacting in different ways right across Australia, the Gillard Government has been taking action at a national level to strengthen our patchwork economy.  For example, the Gillard Government has announced measures to:

  • Cut company tax to 29 per cent, with a head-start for small businesses, using revenue from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, if passed by the Parliament, to boost businesses which are not in the mining boom fast lane.
  • Provide a major tax concession to small business in the form of an up-front instant asset write-off, using revenue from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, if passed by the Parliament.  This tax relief will be available for each and every asset under $6500 purchased by a small business, as well as for the first $5000 of the cost of a motor vehicle.
  • Deliver a $3 billion skills and training package in this year's Budget that will put industry and business at the heart of our national training system, including through new measures to boost apprenticeship completion.

The Gillard Government is determined to continue strengthening our economy and providing practical measures to support employment, businesses and communities in our patchwork economy.

CANBERRA
22 August 2011

FURTHER BACKGROUND: SUPPORT FOR BLUESCOPE WORKERS

The Government has announced an assistance package to support BlueScope workers made redundant in Illawarra, New South Wales and Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.

Job Services Australia Assistance

As part of this package of assistance, redundant workers will have immediate access to Job Services Australia.

Job Services Australia providers will be available to assess each job seeker's circumstances in detail and provide intensive support services.

This includes working with job seekers to develop a tailored Employment Pathway Plan that will help them find another job as quickly as possible.

Job Services Australia providers will, for example:

  • help with a job seeker's résumé, job applications and interview skills;
  • provide information about new job opportunities in the local area which are suited to the individual job seeker;
  • advise on the best ways to look for work;
  • provide information about how to access training (such as through the Productivity Places Program) and help to access a range of vocational and non-vocational training courses. They may also be able to help with apprenticeship fees, training courses and text books;
  • help to gain licences, certificates and other qualifications;
  • help with the JobSearch website and access to job search facilities;
  • assist job seekers to deal with any issues that might be making it hard for them to find or keep work. Where it is appropriate, this may include access to counselling or other professional services; and
  • assist workers to relocate to other locations where jobs are available using the Connecting People with Jobs measure or  Employment Pathway Fund.

Workers will have six months after they have been made redundant to access this assistance.

Relocation Assistance

Connecting People with Jobs assists job seekers to relocate to other locations to take up employment.  In normal circumstances job seekers must have been unemployed for three months to be eligible for assistance. 

BlueScope workers who are made redundant will receive immediate access. Eligible job seekers who have found a job or apprenticeship can receive up to $6,000 to help with the costs of relocating. Families with dependants may be eligible to receive an additional $3,000. Employers who take on relocating job seekers receive a $2500 wage subsidy. This is in recognition of the additional support and assistance individuals need in the early stages of their new jobs.

Training measures

BlueScope workers will have access to training programs to help them receive skills relevant to industries where job opportunities exist. Job services Australia providers will be credited with $2,880 in the Employment Pathway Fund (EPF) for every Bluescope worker made redundant to purchase any necessary training or additional assistance that will assist in these job seekers returning to employment. This may include engaging with the States to undertake skill assessments of impacted workers, provide training to assist workers to gain licences and tickets and utilise existing apprenticeship measures to support employment of apprentices.

Employment Pathway Plan

Job Services Australia providers will meet with job seekers regularly to help them develop a tailored Employment Pathway Plan.

Specifically, the Employment Pathway Plan can help by:

  • recording previous work history, skills and education;
  • highlighting work currently available in the local area including the skills and education needed to do this work;
  • discussing and recording the types of work job seekers would like to do; and
  • recording the steps to take on the pathway to new employment including any appropriate vocational and non-vocational assistance.

Language Literacy and Numeracy Program

The Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program provides training places for retrenched workers over the age of 25 to build their foundation skills.

Centrelink and Job Services Australia can refer job seekers to a Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program provider.

If eligible, this program will help them to improve reading, writing or maths skills with the expectation that such improvements will enable them to participate more effectively in training or in the workforce.

Special Child Care Benefit

If a worker is made redundant and is having difficulty meeting child care costs, they may be eligible for the Special Child Care Benefit.

Help to manage finances

Centrelink offers free, unbiased financial advice about redundancy packages and government assistance. Eligibility for income support will depend on the job seeker's personal circumstances, including your income and assets. If eligible for income support, it may not be available for a period of time, depending on leave or redundancy payments.

Mature age job seekers

Redundant mature age workers also have access to free, professional career counselling through the Experience+ Career Advice service. The Career Advisers will help mature age workers make informed decisions about their future career and become more confident to achieve their workforce goals, such as identifying their transferrable skills, exploring appropriate career options and preparing a plan of action to help them find a job.

Job seekers with disability and mental health conditions

People with a disability or who experience mental health issues and have special workplace support needs may be eligible for Disability Employment Services. A Disability Employment Services provider can help with specialist assistance and provide ongoing support to help them find and keep a job. Job Services Australia providers can also talk to job seekers about eligibility and help have their eligibility assessed if needed.  

Local Employment Coordinators

Local Employment Coordinators are working in 20 Priority Employment Areas across Australia to help drive the local response to redundancies and coordinate government, community and business partnerships which stimulate local economies and generate new job opportunities.

Where redundancies occur in Priority Employment Areas, Local Employment Coordinators will work closely with local stakeholders to support affected workers, such as through Jobs and Skills Expos to help drive local labour market solutions.

The Local Employment Coordinator in the Illawarra region has a network of connections to draw on in the Priority Employment Area that will ensure workers receive the help they need, when they need it. This includes NSW State Training Services, Centrelink and employment service and training providers.

Who to contact for assistance

Centrelink has established a dedicated hotline - the Australian Government Bluescope Support Hotline on 1800 107 233 - to channel inquiries from the public and provide them with information about assistance available to affected employees.

Employment and Training Services

Job Services Australia providers will be able to help retrenched workers.

For information call 1800 107 233 or visit deewr.gov.au/jobservicesaustralia

Centrelink

Centrelink can help with career counselling and financial planning.

For information call Centrelink on 1800 107 233 or visit centrelink.gov.au