Vinnies rejects welfare reforms

The St Vincent de Paul Society will tell the Senate Inquiry into the Welfare to Work Legislation today the new rules place further hardship on those who have already been locked out of the prosperity Australia is currently enjoying.

CLICK HEREAnthony Dalton, Chair of Vinnies' National Social Justice Committee, will say that the welfare reform package lacks both fairness and vision.

"Instead of investing in people who have been locked out of Australia's prosperity, it shifts people from one benefit to another, lower-paying benefit and subjects them to the threat of having their payments suspended," he said in a statement released ahead of today's hearing.

The Society believes that the most vulnerable members of the community will be pushed off social security and into low-paid jobs that may be offered on the proviso that an Australian Workplace Agreement be accepted, even if that Agreement results in a lowering of real income.

It says that the children of these families stand to lose the most.

"The welfare reforms, combined with the IR legislation, will wreak havoc on Australian families. The reforms will not enable people to participate in the workforce. Neither will they assist people to better the chances for themselves and their children. Rather, these reforms will endanger the security of Australian families as a means of lowering labour costs and reducing social expenditure."

Meanwhile Frank Quinlan of Catholic Welfare Australia yesterday asked the Senate Committee to consider three main issues - incentives, investment and penalties.

Mr Quinlan, who is executive director of the peak body, said the proposals fail to deliver adequate incentives to help people move from welfare to work.

"A single mother on Newstart, who overcomes the many barriers she may face to take on 15 hours a week working in a minimum wage job, will be significantly worse off under these arrangements than a similar single mother working the same hours in the same job whilst on the sole parent pension."

"With most jobs going to people with post school qualifications, and most sole parents on the pension with year 10 or less, it is pretty clear we need some specific training and education for current pensioners. If we give parents the time and support they need to re-train, society will reap the benefits for years to come," he said. "What we really must avoid is establishing a class of 'working poor', with all the problems that would create for years to come."

Vinnies Rejects Welfare Reforms (St Vincent de Paul Society 21/11/05)
More incentive and investment needed to move people from welfare to work (Catholic Welfare Australia 21/11/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Vincent de Paul Society
Catholic Welfare Australia

Church groups pessimistic about welfare overhaul (CathNews 21/11/05)
Vinnies says welfare reforms lack fairness (CathNews 10/11/05)
Welfare package changes 'not enough' (CathNews 9/11/05)

Impact of welfare to work changes debated (ABC Radio PM 21/11/05)
Benefits at risk if parents refuse 25-hour job (The Age 22/11/05)
Welfare 'sledgehammer' to hit kids (The Age/Australian Associated Press 21/11/05)

22 Nov 2005