Church groups pessimistic about welfare overhaul
Government changes to welfare will create a new underclass of working poor reliant on charities, family and friends to supplement low wages, a group of church employment organisations including Catholic Welfare Australia and the St Vincent de Paul Society will tell a parliamentary inquiry today.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that instead of creating incentives for people to find work, the biggest changes in the system in decades will force people on welfare to accept jobs with no award conditions or pay rates or face the suspension of their benefits for eight weeks.
"This is an agenda that passes the buck on poverty and inequality," the St Vincent de Paul Society will tell the inquiry.
"It contributes to greater income inequality at a time when there is not a scintilla of evidence to suggest that the slide into growing inequality has been arrested. Furthermore, it does nothing to really enable people to participate in work, education or the community. It does not offer dignity. It takes away hope."
Church-based members of the Job Network, including Catholic Welfare Australia, the Salvation Army, UnitingCare and Anglicare Australia, account for about 20% of the employment agencies the Federal Government uses. They represent a higher number of people with disabilities than other employment agencies and are already finding it difficult to find enough suitable jobs.
The organisations have all attacked the proposed welfare changes, saying they are based on a system of fear and will result in people having to rely on charity.
The chief executive officer of Catholic Welfare Australia, Frank Quinlan, said that the proposed new system "makes no sense".
"Suspending all payments to the very poor is like sending a naughty child to their room and leaving them there for three days," he said.
No hope, no dignity on welfare overhaul (Sydney Morning Herald 21/11/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Welfare Australia
Vinnies says welfare reforms lack fairness (CathNews 10/11/05)
Welfare package changes 'not enough' (CathNews 9/11/05)
PM commends volunteer work (Catholic Leader 20/11/05)
21 Nov 2005