Catholic Welfare worries about sting in dole reforms
The Howard Government will further toughen "three strikes and you're out" dole rules by including in the tally mistakes by unemployed people made during the 12 months before the changes are brought in.
The Australian reports that the decision means many people on the dole could face two months without money as soon as the Government's welfare reforms start next July.
Welfare groups have failed to convince the Government to allow the unemployed a "clean slate" when the system begins. The unemployed will accumulate "strikes" if they fail to go to Job Network interviews or if they refuse jobs. But only people on the dole will have their past failings counted.
A strike will not be recorded if single mothers on the parenting payment fail to attend a compulsory annual interview at Centrelink.
Catholic Welfare Australia executive director Frank Quinlan said it is unfair to count people's pre-July mistakes because when they broke the rules under the present system many would have no idea of the consequences.
"I have a question as to whether or not those people would be considered to have been warned properly if at the time that they incurred their first strike, and if at the time they incurred their second strike, they didn't know what the result of their third strike was going to be," he said.
"If there's a new regime, the only fair approach to managing the warning system is to make sure that people do get their due warning."
But Employment Participation Minister Peter Dutton said the Government had a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the welfare system, and defended not wiping the slate clean for jobseekers.
"This measure is designed to target the minority of people who continually try to dodge their mutual obligation and essentially rip off the system that supports them," he said.
Retro sting in dole reforms (The Australian 4/10/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Welfare Australia
Churches warn Govt about job welfare changes (CathNews 16/9/05)
4 Oct 2005