$4/hr internships…now a coffee can be in your Budget!

Today the internet is riddled with backlash after the Federal Government’s budget announcement of Youth Jobs PaTH, particularly regarding Stage Two: Internship placement. (Although I feel BuzzFeed’s description is more accurate, ‘STAGE TWO: Trial, a.k.a the unpaid(ish) internship program.’)

The internship programme scheme is positioned to facilitate 120,000 internship placements over four years, commencing 1 April 2017. Interns will work between 15 – 25 hours per week for 4 to 12 weeks duration, and will receive $200 per fortnight on top of their regular income support payment.

The equation to figure out whether or not these internship arrangements will be exploitative is not a complex one: $200 ÷ 50 hours = $4/hour. My concerns mirror those of Interns Australia, “If you can access labour for less than the legal wage, why would you pay for a worker on a proper wage?”


Ironically, I also awoke today to a Media Release from the Fair Work Ombudsman titled, ‘Gold Coast apprentice paid less than $10 an hour’ detailing that as a result of this clear exploitation, the FWO intervened and reimbursed the apprentice ‘thousands of dollars’.

Does this confuse anyone else, or is it just me? How are we supposed to be shocked and appalled that an apprentice was paid a flat rate of $9.21/hour when the federal government has just given the equivalent of a $4/hour internship scheme the green light? Who’s intervening and reimbursing interns for the hours of unpaid labour they’re doing in desperate hope that the experience will make them more employable?

I started The New Kid to put an end to the growing trend of illegal, exploitative internships that are replacing entry-level positions for young people in Australia, and that includes internships that pay $4/hour.

Back to the drawing board, Treasurer Scott Morrison.


Marnie Shanahan is the Founder and Director of The New Kid.

Read about her and her story here, or