New welfare-to-work rules spell disaster: Catholic Social Services

The new welfare-to-work rules, which came into effect at the weekend, could have disastrous consequences, according to Catholic Social Services.

The ABC reports that under the new rules as of 1 July, unemployed people who refuse three job offers in a year could be penalised by losing their payments for two months.

Catholic Social Services Executive Director, Frank Quinlan, says the new rules could have disastrous consequences.

"We think this is a very dangerous strategy because we know that suspending people's payments really hurts people," he said.

He says people should be encouraged to enter the work force, not threatened.

"Rather than forcing people out of the system, we think we should be investing more resources on bringing them into the system," he said.

Meanwhile, spokesperson for the St Vincent De Paul Society John Falzon has confirmed to the ABC World Today on Friday that the Society will have no part in the scheme.

Under the Federal Government scheme, people who are breached but deemed to be "extremely vulnerable", will be referred to the churches and charitable organisations to receive one-off payments of up to $650 to manage their cases.

"The potential for denying them up to eight weeks of 100 per cent of their income is for us immoral and we will not be party to that regime," Dr Falzon said.

"To then turn around and ask people who have been breached to be referred to charities is a way of humiliating them further, rather than seriously assisting people, enabling them to participate in work where it is appropriate and possible."

But the Federal Government has justified the new measures, saying some unemployed people are not seeking jobs. Federal Work Force Participation Minister Dr Sharman Stone says the Government is spending $3.6 billion helping people back to work and the new system is a necessary change.

"We believe that without a sanction there some people - and it is a tiny minority - may not take this opportunity seriously," she said.

New welfare-to-work laws 'dangerous', welfare group says (ABC News Online 1/7/06)
Major charities believe new welfare rules are unfair (ABC The World Today 30/6/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Social Services Australia
Welfare to Work, Centrelink

Catholic Welfare weighs in on IR debate (CathNews 12/10/05)

Major charities believe new welfare rules are unfair (The World Today, ABC Radio 30/6/06)

3 Jul 2006