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The Australian Government's welfare review seeks to reform the welfare system.  It needs to be based on realistic expectations, to acknowledge the inequality in opportunity and the diversity of need in Australian society, and to take into consideration the structural forces which have led to people needing welfare.  The ACSJC supports the process of inviting submissions and draws attention to the following points.


The ACSJC supports:

  • the focus on equity, simplicity and early intervention
  • the premise that welfare recipients have the right to share in the benefits of the nation's economic growth
  • the promotion of just measures

1. to create employment
2. to reverse the current growth of inequality in Australian society

  • efforts to promote independence among welfare recipients
  • provision of more tailored and individualised assistance for the diverse group of individuals and families who receive benefits

The ACSJC is concerned that:

  • the Government's focus is on the individual welfare recipient rather than on the structural factors in society which have led to people being on welfare
  • there is not sufficient recognition that the core of the problem is poverty, not welfare dependency
  • young children will be adversely affected if all supporting parents are targeted for employment rather than welfare
  • some groups are at greater risk of poverty because of inadequate social security payment rates
  • there is no benefit for people moving from welfare reliance into the ranks of the working poor
  • the data shows that for many people on or below the poverty line, social security is a matter of survival, not negative 'welfare dependency'
  • reality of unemployment is not addressed - people have the right to work, but not always the opportunity
  • use of the term 'worklessness' - a paid job is not the only form of work
  • continuing effects of globalisation on the employment situation are not addressed
  • 'mutual obligation' must be recognised as two-sided
  • the present Australian system is highly efficient, neither expensive nor wasteful and should therefore be 'reformed' very carefully
  • insufficient time was given for extensive research and analysis before the closing date for submissions

The ACSJC reminds all involved that:

  • the role of government is to promote and safeguard the common good
  • the needs of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged  members of society require special consideration in government policy-making
  • any process needs to be comprehensive and to be adequately resourced

Some facts and figures
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics

  • 7.9% unemployment rate; 25.4% of 15-19 year olds; 12.6% of 20-24 year olds
  • 718 200 people unemployed, 71 100 advertised jobs  (May, 1999)
  • 31.9% of unemployed people were unemployed for a year or more in 1998-1999
  • single unemployed receive $19.90 less than a single pensioner
  • unemployed now have to prove they have made up to six job applications in a fortnight

Submissions from agencies in the Catholic community include:

  • Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission; Catholic Health Australia
  • Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace
  • Knights of the Southern Cross (Qld)
  • Jesuit Social Services
  • Social Action Office - CLRIQ; CJ&PC, Brisbane; Sisters of Charity, Brisbane;
  • St Mary's Parish, South Brisbane
  • Mercy Family Centre
  • St Vincent de Paul NSW/ACT State Council

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