WorkplaceInfo explainer: What is the Green Army?

Analysis

WorkplaceInfo explainer: What is the Green Army?

The Green Army is not, contrary to what some may think, an alien Earth invasion, but is instead the Federal Government’s attempt to provide a solution to both youth unemployment and skills training. WorkplaceInfo explains the scheme for you.

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The Green Army is not, contrary to what some may think, an alien Earth invasion, but is instead the Federal Government’s attempt to provide a solution to both youth unemployment and skills training, rolled in to one.
Last week, the Government introduced legislation into Parliament establishing the program — the types of work young people will do, the money they will be paid and the protections — or lack of protections — that they will be given.

WorkplaceInfo explains the scheme for you.

What is the aim of the ‘Green Army’?

The scheme aims to give young people, aged 17-24 years, work on projects which are aimed at ‘protecting their local environment’. The Coalition is aiming to recruit 15,000 young people by 2018. It is specifically targeting indigenous Australians, school leavers, gap year students, graduates and unemployed job seekers.

The target is for 250 projects, employing 2500 young people in the 2014-15 year, with expressions of interest already received for 150 projects.

The scheme is a voluntary one, with participants opting in.

When did they get this idea?

The Green Army was announced by the Coalition prior to the last election. It is modelled on the Green Corps scheme introduced under the Howard government.

What sort of work will participants do?

Environmental projects such as ‘restoring and protecting habitat, weeding, planting, cleaning up creeks and rivers and restoring cultural heritage places’, according to the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, who announced the legislation last week.

What sort of training will be provided?

According to the Minister, formal training will be provided in such areas as ‘work-readiness, conservation and land management, heritage conservation, leadership, project and human resource management and trades (e.g. heritage trade skills)’.

Certificate I or II qualifications will mainly be offered, but where possible training units can be used towards more advanced qualifications.

Who will run the projects?

The Government will not be involved in running the green projects; they will be run by contractors who will have complete control of recruiting young people and setting up and managing the teams.

The Government will shortly announce tenders for these contracts. It considers local councils, community groups and natural resources management organisations as most likely to tender.

How many people in a Green Army team?

Each team will have a supervisor, who will be employed by the contractor and paid a wage under the Gardening and Landscaping Services Award, as well as up to nine workers.

Teams will work full-time, for 30 hours a week, for up to 26 weeks.

What will the Green Army be paid?

Team members will receive an allowance of between roughly $300 to $500 a week. This works out at nearly half the minimum wage of $622.20 a week at the lowest end, however a young single person receiving the dole is currently getting $250.50 a week.

Minister Hunt introduced the Social Security Legislation (Green Army Programme) Amendment Bill 2014 last week into Parliament clarifying that participants are not entitled to receive unemployment benefits or pensions while working on a Green Army project. Family assistance and child care payments remain payable during this time. An income test will apply to any person who receives Centrelink benefits while their partner is receiving a Green Army allowance.

Will workplace laws apply to the Green Army?

This is the one of the most contentious aspects of the Green Army as announced by the Government: team members (but not supervisors) will specifically not be covered by federal workplace laws such as the Work Health and Safety Act, the Fair Work Act and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.

As some commentators have mentioned, this could lead to a situation where in the event of an accident, the supervisor will be covered but the workers will not. The ACTU has expressed concern that the rate of payment to Green Army members is too low and the scheme will undercut youth wages.

When will the scheme start?

The scheme will start on 1 July this year. Applications will open soon.

How can I find out more about the Green Army?

More information is available online from the Department of Environment.
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