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Catholic bodies join new disability welfare alliance

Catholic Welfare Australia, Catholic Health Australia, and the St Vincent de Paul Society are part of a new alliance of disability and welfare organisations that is promoting a positive program of reform to improve payments and employment services for people with disabilities.

The Disability Participation Alliance was established recently to discuss welfare reform and agreed on a set of Guidelines for Disability Welfare Reform released this week.

"Welfare reform for people with disabilities should improve their participation in the workforce and community. A narrow focus on limiting access to payments to save the government money would be unfair and self defeating," said Australian Federation of Disability Organisations President Maurice Corcoran.

"There are no quick fixes to get people with disabilities into the workforce - many want to work but they face employer reluctance, waiting lists for employment assistance and financial disincentives in the social security system. We're saying the time has come to tackle these issues so more people can get work," said ACROD CEO Ken Baker.

The Guidelines for Disability Welfare Reform includes:
Thorough public consultation with people with disabilities and welfare and disability organisations over future reform of disability payments and broader welfare reform.
A National Disability Workforce Strategy to overcome discrimination in the workforce, build infrastructure to improve access and support employers of people with disabilities.
New investment in employment assistance for people with disabilities on social security payments, to help those who can find work and keep a job.
Reform of social security payments to remove anomalies between pensions and allowances, without reductions in the level of payments.
A Disability Allowance to cover the extra costs faced by people with disabilities.
Reform should not leave people with disabilities worse off financially.

The Guidelines for Disability Reform will be submitted to the Government shortly.

The list of more than 20 organisations also includes the Australian Council of Social Services, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, and the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations.

Last October, the Bishops' Committee for the Family and for Life issued a pastoral document - I Have a Story - which aimed to help people with disability, and their families, to participate fully in parish life.

New alliance calls for disability welfare reform (Australian Council of Social Service 14/2/05)

Catholic Welfare Australia
Catholic Health Australia
St Vincent de Paul Society
Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
Bishops' Committee for the Family and for Life | 'I Have a Story' - Disability Pastoral Statement

New pastoral document on helping people with disability (CathNews 8/9/04)
Catholic Welfare alarm at talk of Govt welfare cuts (CathNews 29/3/04)
Vinnies says job plan puts dollars before disabled (CathNews 13/2/04)

16 Feb 2005