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Jesuit study finds poor excluded from job market

Communities of disadvantaged families are effectively excluded from the competitive job market, according to a Jesuit Social Services study based on interviews with residents of a Melbourne public housing estate.

The study, launched this week by the Jesuits' policy unit, warns of increased youth suicide, mental illness, addiction, child abuse and criminal behaviour.

Policy Director Fr Peter Norden said one of the investigation's most confronting findings in the three public housing estates in the City of Yarra is that the overwhelming majority of those interviewed aspired to full-time work and financial independence.

"This finding confronts the general prejudicial and discriminatory attitude of the wider community that the high levels of unemployment and welfare dependency often found in public housing estates result from the lack of ambition and enterprising behaviour", he said.

Jesuit researcher, David Holdcroft, drawing on his extensive experience in the housing and homelessness field, conducted in-depth interviews with a sample of long-term unemployed residents of the Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond estates, examining what factors prevented them from participating more fully in the job market.

"These are clearly communities of a very high degree of social disadvantage" David Holdcroft concluded, "so special measures are urgently needed to ensure that the young people growing up in these estates have the opportunity of participating in mainstream society, and of escaping that sense of social exclusion which is the underlying cause of much social conflict and violence in our community."

"There is a great risk that in areas of high unemployment, we are creating areas of social marginalisation where children grow up never having known or seen a parent go to work", David Holdcroft said.

Jesuit Social Services

Barriers to Employment - Preface
Barriers to Employment - Full text

16 Jan 2003