When Holden makes its exit from Australian production in 2017, what will happen to Holden employees who work at the Elizabeth plant? According to testimony in an Australian Senate inquiry, some believe the rate of domestic violence, crime, and suicide will increase in Adelaide.
According to ABC News Online, Senator Penny Wright claims the Green party has set up this unprecedented inquiry as the closure of Holden was unprecedented for South Australia. “It will be the closure of an entire industry and there will be significant long-term impacts, both social and economic, if we don’t get the transition right. It’s really important that Australians understand just how difficult it is for some people to keep their heads above water, how desperate the situation can be for them and how government policies can actually make that situation worse. If we don’t make the transition we’ve heard there will be increases in crime, there will be increases in domestic violence, there will be increases in mental health issues and even suicides because the flow-on effects will be so significant.”
Reverend Peter Sandeman, a member of the State Government’s Automotive Transformation Taskforce, told the inquiry there was only a short window of opportunity to train workers in other areas. “If young people don’t see a chance of getting employment at the end of school, why stay in school? If young people don’t see by being active and positive citizens in Australia, they are not going to get a fair go, well why be active, why be positive?”
Sandeman also believes that federal and state funding allocated to help Holden workers move to other jobs was not enough: “We’re talking about the funds that the Federal Government and the State Government and Holdens and Toyota are jointly contributing to help the transformation of businesses and workers into the new post Holden arrangement … There is about $160 million dollars available for that. It’s not enough, we need more.”
Meanwhile, current Holden workers are getting anxious about their future post-closure. Ross Womersley of the South Australian Council of Social Service said, “Already I think we are seeing people who are losing their confidence because they anticipate the closure of Holden and that in turn drives business out of the place rather than into an area like this.”