Vinnies says welfare reforms lack fairness

St Vincent de Paul Society's national operations manager, Dr John Falzon has said that it is absurdity to maintain that, in order to work harder, the rich need large carrots while the poor need large sticks.

CLICK HEREThe Catholic Weekly reports that the Federal Government's overhaul of welfare payments, announced this week, is expected to take effect from 1 July next year.

"Vinnies has consistently stated that the welfare reform package lacks both fairness and vision," says Dr Falzon. "Instead of seriously investing in people and regions that have been locked out of the prosperity enjoyed by other Australians, it shifts people from one benefit to another, lower-paying benefit and subjects them to the threat of having their payments suspended for up to eight weeks. Low income earners must be left wondering why they are being blamed for their poverty."

According to a report by the University of Canberra's National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, the basic rate of unemployment benefit should be increased so that dramatic changes in the welfare system do not leave people worse off.

The report recommends the pension offset should apply to people moved on to the new benefits package, to protect them from the "cliff effect" of finding a job, losing their benefits and having to start paying higher tax rates.

It also recommends the Medicare levy be reconsidered for people whose welfare payments are changed and that the maximum amount of the unemployment benefit paid to people with disabilities be raised from $211 to $228 a week.

Meanwhile the St Vincent de Paul Society, Queensland launches its Christmas Appeal today. The Appeal focuses on how a donation to Vinnies can bring some hope, comfort and joy to those in need, reminding that, 'Even the first Christmas family needed a little help'.

The Society in Victoria launched its Christmas appeal yesterday, and the NSW/ACT division's appeal was also launched recently.

Queensland State President Michael McKeown said: "Always the Society's aim is to provide a hand up rather than just a hand out, helping people to take control of their lives whilst restoring their dignity. However, the Society is only able to provide this assistance through the support of caring members of the community whose generous donations are so vital for our ongoing work."

This year the Society's Christmas Appeal in Queensland hopes to raise $300,000 to fund programs and works to assist those in need. Credit card donations can be made by calling 13 18 12 or visiting www.vinnies.org.au/qld.

Welfare reforms lack fairness - Vinnies (Catholic Weekly 13/11/05)
Vinnies Queensland launches Christmas Appeal 2005 (St Vincent de Paul Society 9/11/05)

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

Vinnies building units for mentally ill (CathNews 9/11/05)
Vinnies Christmas spotlight on social fallout of mental illness (CathNews 3/11/05)
Australian Catholic University strengthens ties with Vinnies (CathNews 4/11/05)

Mental illness hits one in 5, appeal launch told (Catholic Weekly 13/11/05)
Petrol prices putting pressure on the needy (Southern Cross, November 2005)

10 Nov 2005