Long term unemployment and the mentally ill

Dr Xue  Wang, Case Manager/Counsellor,  Aftercare will be speaking at the Long Term Unemployment Conference

Long term unemployment and the mentally ill

People with mental illness make up a large part of the long term unemployment pool in Australia. They are seen as one of the most vulnerable groups in our society in the face of economic change.  The government has tried hard to help these people join the workforce. Various disability job agencies have been created for them and the government has also tried to encourage employers to hire them through subsidy programs. In addition, both federal and state governments have sponsored many organizations to help and support these people to move toward joining the workforce. However, the results are far less satisfactory than expected. Many if not most mentally ill people still remain in effect permanently unemployed.

There are two sides to debates on solutions to the long term disabled unemployment problem. One side is  welfare oriented social policy academics and welfare interest groups. They argue for high government social expenditure, increasing welfare benefits and job training and job creating programs. They believe the government should play a bigger role in helping the disabled into employment regardless of the evident—and long term–failure of relevant  policies and programs.

The other side is people who want government to reform the current employment policy and system generally and as it affects the disabled. They suggest government should relax minimum wage and reward policies, reduce regulation of businesses and social organizations, lower high income tax rates and drastically alter the welfare system–all of which have contributed to long term unemployment. They propose time limits for recipients receiving social benefits and work for the dole for those unable to find a job within a given time frame.

There is no doubt that their suggestions for reform would lead to more jobs being created by businesses, therefore more job opportunities for job seekers.  And their suggestions can create a social foundation for job seekers to undertake their own responsibility. However research has shown that people who work for the dole may not be necessarily end up with open market employment, because they are still living in a social welfare comfort zone. In addition, the higher education system also poses difficulties for these people to learn new skills.

The challenge is how those people with mental illness can be motivated  to participate in on job training with the support of  organizations willing to assist them to become independent.

About the presenter

Dr. Xue Wang is currently working at Aftercare Sydney and also has her own private counseling and coaching practice.  Her professional approach to mental health lies in both academic and life experiences. She obtained her doctoral degree from the University of Sydney for a thesis on Chinese women in the workplace after economic reform. In 2010, she completed  postgraduate study in counseling at the Australian College of Applied Psychology. While working as a mental health professional, she went on to pursue further training in Neuro-Semantics and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and also in Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB)  with Professor Daniel Siegel of the Mindsight Institute at UCLA (University of California Los Angeles). She has published wide ranging articles on gender equality, mental health and public policy deficiencies.

She has lived in three continents–Asia, Europe and Australia–and worked as an academic at universities in Australia as well as China.  She has also worked in the banking and retail industries in Australia; as a project manager at AchieveGlobal in China, and as a director at B & W Internships in Australia and The Netherlands. She sees herself as a mental doctor without barriers.

mentally ill and unemployment

This conference will address the causes and programs needed to provide opportunities for at risk groups: Disability, Mature Age, Youth, Indigenous and Regional Unemployed.  It will focus on “Building Capability” to create employment in the future with over 50 presentations on research, policy, programs and case studies.

Australian Long Term Unemployment Conference will be held on 18-19 August 2014, QT Hotel Surfers Paradise. The 2 day conference will feature keynote presentations and 3-4 streams on long term unemployment issues, please click on the link for the Preliminary Program Released. For more information about the conference please visit the website www.longtermunemployment.org.au or call the conference secretariat on 61 7) 5502 2068. Reminder! Please note the Early Bird ends on the 7th July 2014. Register