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Catholic Welfare welcomes Govt compassion for jobseekers

"It is encouraging to hear Minister Vanstone's recognition that current arrangements are too tough on the most vulnerable," said Catholic Welfare Australia's National Director Toby O'Connor. "The Government should be supported in reforms that improve the system's treatment of disadvantaged job seekers and ensure breach penalties are not imposed without good reason."

But while welcoming some of the key proposals announced by the Family and Community Services Minister, Mr O'Connor called for further detail.

"A key problem with the current system is that a majority of job seekers are penalised for failing to attend initial interviews with Centrelink or Job Network providers," he said. "The Minister's proposal for the temporary suspension of payments until clients attend will be worthwhile only if flaws in the current referral process are addressed and subsequent interviews with clients genuinely take into account their circumstances."

"Also welcomed is the reduction of penalties for clients who fail to attend interviews. In the past job seekers could incur a penalty of up to $1,400 for missing an interview or arriving late. Under new arrangements, people in this situation will face a lesser 'administrative' breach penalty of around $300."

However, Mr O'Connor added, "While these reforms are an improvement to current arrangements, even the slightest reduction in payments will continue to cause significant hardship for recipients who are trying to make ends meet on poverty level payments. These vulnerable individuals and their families remain at risk of being pushed further into poverty."


Catholic Welfare Australia

Department of Family and Community Services


Catholic Welfare Australia

5 Mar 2002