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Catholic Commission says Govt welfare reform ignores dignity of human person
    The Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission is concerned that real evidence of the Government's commitment to Welfare Reform has now been delayed until the next Budget and remains at risk until then.
    The Commission is also concerned that the Government has failed to ground its reforms in the dignity of the person.
    Executive Secretary Toby O'Connor said: "The Commission is adamant that the Government's populist mutual obligation framework remains deeply flawed. The extension of Work-for-the-Dole to the older unemployed is problematic and the Commission will continue to recommend caution for Catholic Church agencies considering involvement in these schemes.
    "The Government has found Work-for-the-Dole and other punitive aspects of Mutual Obligation to be electorally popular. We believe that results are only achieved when this Government's raw policy is significantly subsidised by agencies' own resources. The real test of this approach will come with an economic downturn.
    Mr O'Connor also reminded the Government that social justice requires recognition of the mutual obligation of individual and society, and it was failing to ground its vision of mutual obligation in the dignity of the person.
    He said: "All citizens, income support recipients included, have an obligation to contribute to society through participation. Government is obliged to create the conditions to make this participation possible, but this does not justify punitive, sanctions-based schemes and even less their expansion to new categories of income support recipients."
    He said that forcing sole parents to 'participate' in interviews once their youngest child turns six, or training and employment activities once their child turns 13, denies the intrinsic value of parenting. He insisted that caring for school-aged children and family considerations must be allowed to come first.
    "A truly family-friendly Government would recognise and promote parenting choice for rich and poor alike."