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Catholic Welfare gives qualified support to Work for the Dole

The Board of Catholic Welfare Australia has given qualified support to the Commonwealth Government's Work for the Dole program.

Centacare - the national network of Catholic Social Services and a Commission of the Bishops' Conference - released a statement outlining its position following a board meeting in Canberra yesterday.

Chairperson David Beaver said: "Following some changes recently introduced as part of the Government's Australians Working Together strategy, Catholic Welfare Australia has found it necessary to reconsider the long-held position of the Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission ('ACSWC'), opposing Work for the Dole in principle."

The ACSWC opposed the scheme when it was introduced in 1997. It was critical of the practice of forcing clients to work for poverty level entitlements and the program's lack of training provisions.

Mr Beaver said some of these concerns were answered by the Government in May's Budget.

"First, Work for the Dole and newly introduced Community Work placements finally have a training component, with a 'Training Credit' available to people after 16 weeks of participation," he said. "Secondly, because of the Government's decision to extend compulsory participation across the majority of employment and community work programs, agencies wishing to assist vulnerable job seekers have no choice but to work around such requirements."

But he warned that while the programs may provide valuable work experience, they do not provide a real solution to the growing problem of unemployment. He said Catholic Welfare Australia will continue to advocate for stronger employment policies geared to job generation and targeting adequate levels of support to disadvantaged job seekers.

Catholic Welfare Australia