Joint Media Release - Setting the Bar for Welfare Reform

Posted 8 August 2014 11:13am

Australia’s Major Church Providers are today lodging submissions on the Welfare Review Interim Report, and are encouraging the reference panel to keep top-of-mind some key themes and principles when reviewing feedback.

Major Church Providers believe the reform is a good opportunity to improve a system that has become unnecessarily complicated over time. It is a chance to create a stronger and more effective safety net that protects people from poverty and provides an adequate level of income to enable a decent quality of life.

In the Anglicare Australia submission to the review, Executive Director, Kasy Chambers said an adequate safety net is integral to supporting people to move into employment.

“Add to that the availability of appropriate jobs and a reasonable chance of gaining those jobs and you have the makings of a shift away from welfare toward meaningful engagement with the community and employment,” she said.

Catholic Social Services Australia CEO, Marcelle Mogg said “we believe that long term investment to support the capability of the individual and the family will provide better workforce participation results. For example, investment in family relationships, affordable housing, education and health services will assist long term unemployed people into the workforce.”

“It is important we continue to see and treat everyone as being of equal value in our country,” Executive Director of Baptist Care Australia, Carolyn Kelshaw said.

“So we are very concerned that our social service policy decisions do not blame vulnerable groups for their particular circumstances; and we don't punish them or increase their sense of alienation by limiting their access to a decent quality of life, which includes access to education, health, housing and employment opportunities," she said.

The Salvation Army submission to the review argues strongly for a meaningful rate of income support to be established that realistically reflects the costs of living and delivers an acceptable standard of living for those with limited or no other means of financial support.

National Secretary for The Salvation Army, Major Kelvin Alley said “it is critical for the review to deliver a working age payment that meets the daily costs of living, with a mechanism that ensures the continued adequacy of the payment with the movement in living costs over time.”

National Director of UnitingCare Australia, Lin Hatfield Dodds said it is positive that the McClure Review is looking at the adequacy of welfare payments.

“Welfare should give people the support they need to thrive and to participate in the community, when they cannot provide for themselves through work,” she said. “At the moment our system—pieced together over time—does not always adequately provide for people, making it more likely that they will become trapped in poverty.”

The Major Church Providers welcome the opportunity to inform the welfare conversation, impressing that the provision of an adequate safety net must be prioritised. They recommend that the government establish an independent, ongoing benchmarking process for minimum social security payments to ensure they are adequate for all.

Media contacts:
Roland Manderson, 0412 241 379 [Anglicare Australia]
Annette Pereira, 0455 851 139 [UnitingCare Australia]
Liz de Chastel, 6285 1366 [Catholic Social Services Australia]
Major Kelvin Alley, 6273 3055 or 0437 358 663 [The Salvation Army]
Rob Ellis, 0401 696 687 [Baptist Care NSW & ACT]

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