Catholic News - Catholic Telecommunications, a devision of Catholic Resources





Catholic Welfare says new law gives with one hand, takes away with the other

Catholic Welfare Australia has described the Federal Government's Australians Working Together legislation is a mixed blessing,

The organisation voiced strong concerns on Friday about new measures passed through the Senate to extend mutual obligation to Parenting Payment recipients where the youngest child is 13-15 years old.

"It is the primary obligation of parents to make decisions about the needs and welfare of their families," said Fr Joe Caddy, spokesperson for Catholic Welfare Australia.

"Government for its part has a mutual obligation to support all families to do this," he said. "This must include the guarantee of a safety net income to all genuinely in need especially when the welfare of children is at stake. This cannot be made conditional upon a compliance regime: this just penalises the children."

The new arrangements require many parents who receive Parenting Payment for an older child to undertake 'activity tests' like Newstart recipients. If they do not comply they can be breached and face large reductions in their benefits for 6 months.

Catholic Welfare Australia warned the government of the risks of exposing families to the breaching system. Catholic Welfare Australia pushed for this harsh penalty to be reduced, but the Government would not budge.

"We welcome the exemptions for families with special needs and in crisis situations, and the need to consider a family's personal circumstances," said Fr Caddy. "The agreement to repay the breach penalty when parents comply is important."

Catholic Welfare Australia

Catholic Welfare Australia
Australians Working Together

31 Mar 2003