Thursday, 23 April 2015

When are the professional unemployed in receipt of Newstart not really unemployed? When they provide professional services as volunteers in community organisations.

Picture below is from here
What is the difference between a paid job and what is carried out by volunteers?  In some cases, not much at all, if anything.  In fact, we are not facing up to things.  Should much of the activities carried out regularly by volunteers be called what it is? Unpaid Work. And should Unpaid Work carried out by Newstart recipients be measured and categorised?

This has been brought home to me by a friend of middle years who is unemployed and receives Newstart.  My friend is not short of work ethic; nor short of qualifications - a primary school teacher and IT trainer.

My friend volunteers for various organisations and has also done unpaid mentoring in a public school.

The tasks carried out by my friend under the guise of "volunteering" is work, skilled work, undergirded by professional qualifications.  It is the sort of work, in my view, that if there was no one available to volunteer to do this work, it would have to be paid for.  The only trouble is that the volunteering is for community organisations.  These community organisations tend to rely on funding from a variety of sources - all tiers of government, their own fundraising, donations.  In short, they are not able to provide the resources and investment available to private organisations.  

I'm not sure how volunteer work in community organisations is categorised or valued.  My friend is using professional skills based on professional qualifications.  Not all volunteer work in community organisations could be classed as professional but I am sure there are many other people besides my friend using professional skills on an unpaid basis who would like to be paid for their work.  

I would love someone to advise me on 
  1. What is work in this context?
  2. Are statistics kept in a manner that is discernible about the professionally qualified services provided by Newstart recipients?
For more on long term unemployment,

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