An interim report into welfare reform has drawn criticism from advocates and members of the Opposition following its release today, more than six months after it was commissioned in December.
Issued by Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews, the report also called for welfare payment categories to be culled from 20 to four: a tiered working-age payment, a disability support pension, an age pension and a child payment.
The report can be read in full at the bottom of this article.
Under the proposed changes, the Disability Support Pension would be reserved only for people with a permanent impairment and no capacity to work, while other former recipients would be moved onto the working-age payment along with jobseekers, parents and carers.
“The 2014-15 Federal Budget announced that for certain Disability Support Pension recipients aged under 35 years, the Government will introduce compulsory work-focused activities, such as work experience or education and training, to help increase their chances of finding and keeping a job,” it read.
“A targeted review will also be undertaken of Disability Support Pension recipients aged under 35 years who originally accessed the payment under different rules between 2008 and 2011. Recipients will have their work capacity reassessed against the current impairment tables, and will be provided with support needed to allow them to develop their work capacity.”
Mr Andrews has defended the proposals, telling Sky News that reform is necessary.
“This is about the sustainability of the system in the future,” he said.
“… It’s about meeting the huge change that the ageing population is bringing about.”
income support types | Create Infographics
The proposals have drawn criticism from the Opposition, with Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh telling Sky News that the disability pension was already a hard payment to secure.
“This is not a government that wants to improve things for people living with a disability,” he said.
“… Cuts at the bottom, increased giveaways at the top. Australia needs this like a hole in the head.”
President of People with Disability Australia, Craig Wallace condemned the plan for failing to tackle the barriers that prevent people with a disability with a desire to work from getting a job.
“And I say right here. We are not rorters. We are not slackers” pic.twitter佛山桑拿网,/nENTZPpPec
— Craig Wallace (@CraigWtweets) June 29, 2014
The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia was among a number of groups calling for caution.
FECCA’s Eugenia Grammatikakis says simplifying the system has merits, but the government should take into account the needs of individuals, particularly those from ethnically and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
“At the same time each category of recipients to be considered on its on merit and that they’re not all lumped in the same basket,” she said.
“And also to look at individual cases and individual needs within those categories.”
The report also called for a stronger employment focus, stating that changes to the welfare system have developed a situation where there are “disincentives for some people to work”.
“Long-term reliance on income support increases the risks of poor health, low self-esteem and social isolation,” it read.
“It can also have intergenerational effects. Children who grow up in households with long periods on income support are more likely to have poor education, employment and social outcomes.”