The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called on government, business and the wider community to make an extra effort in lifting the participation of marginalised groups into training or work, particularly the young.
In a joint address to the National Press Club focussed on the social determinants of health, ACCI CEO, Kate Carnell, said Australia needed to get young people into fulltime work or training – not just to boost the economy but to improve people’s health.
“There’s a clear link between unemployment and poor health, and we need to do all we can to break it,” Kate Carnell said.
“At June 2013, 500,000 of the 3.1 million young Australians aged 15 to 24 did not have a job nor were they in full time or part-time education. This is a staggering number revealing that in addition to those officially classified as unemployed; around 194,000 have disengaged from the system entirely, with an additional 16,000 undertaking part time education but no work.
“Not only are we missing out on the contribution they can make to economic growth, we also know they are more likely to suffer poor health, which in turn makes it harder for them to find their way into the system.
The ACCI CEO told the press club the Australian Bureau of Statistics had found people who are long term unemployed are four times as likely as employed people to say that their health is only fair or poor (34% compared to 9%), are twice as likely to be a current smoker, are twice as likely to have back pain and are almost three times as likely to have mental health problems.
“So losing your job can have a significant impact on your health, which in turn makes it harder to get another job.
“This is a vicious cycle.”