Welfare reform offers an opportunity for increased participation

Posted 3 July 2014 3:23pm

Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Interim Report of the Reference Group on Welfare Reform and looks forward to participating in consultations with both the Reference Group and government.

CSSA is keen to work with government to ensure that Australia has a social support system and an economy that reflect the dignity, needs and hopes of individuals. It is imperative that Australia’s social support and economic models serve people; rather than people being obliged to fit prescriptive models.

The needs of people who are vulnerable and experiencing disadvantage lie at the centre of the reform process. The test of any reform process is whether it enlarges opportunities for all Australians to participate in the full scope of community life.

Where people face barriers to participation in employment and the community, as a consequence of disability, illness or age, the social support system plays an important role in enabling people to overcome such obstacles. Access to social support must be equitable, readily accessible and easy to understand.

It is welcoming to see the Reference Group recognises that reforming the social support system involves more than negotiating income and payment mechanisms. As the interim report acknowledges, it also involves building community capacity, engaging with employers, and strengthening individual and family capability. People also need access to employment, safe and secure housing, food, medical care, and social support services.

People in receipt of social support have an important role to play in shaping their own future and working with government, social service agencies and the community to further their own participation and independence. Helping people to access employment and reduce their reliance on social support has significant positive benefits for individuals and the community as a whole. It is encouraging that the report’s authors recognise that in order for individuals to fulfil their mutual obligations, they need to be able to access opportunities for training and employment.

Australia’s employers, educators and trainers all have a role to play in helping to open up labour market opportunities for people experiencing disadvantage and exclusion — opportunities that recognise their experience, abilities and enthusiasm.

CONTACT:Marcelle Mogg, CEO CSSA: 0400 576 917

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