Welfare quarantine useless: Vinnies

Federal Government and Opposition proposals to quarantine welfare payments to "at risk" parents are simplistic and will not prevent truancy or child neglect, the Society of St Vincent de Paul says.

The Australian reports that over the weekend both Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd unveiled plans to restrict welfare payments to families whose children are considered "at risk" or repeatedly fail to turn up to school.

The policy would include random Centrelink checks on school attendance and could see some families have parts of their welfare payments quarantined for essential items like food, clothing and shelter.

St Vincent de Paul Society chief John Falzon said yesterday the policies were simplistic and did not address the causes of child neglect, truancy and disadvantage.

"We're not convinced that quarantining as a tool is really going to achieve the outcome of child protection,'' he told reporters.

"In fact, we fear that by demonising parents, in some cases you're not helping children, you're pushing people further to the margins.

"A policy which focuses on quarantining as the main plank of solving the issues of children who are missing out is, as far as we're concerned, short-sighted.''

Many vital services like transport, affordable housing and childcare were not available in disadvantaged areas, he said.

Dr Falzon called for a broad strategy to examine why some parents resort to drug abuse and allow their children to play truant, rather than simply focusing on so-called behavioural problems.

Reforms won't stop child neglect - Vinnies (The Australian, 15/7/07)

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

Vinnies spokesman says welfare to work threatens vulnerable (CathNews, 18/4/06)
Vinnies says "no" to Govt money (CathNews, 6/4/06)
Vinnies rejects welfare reforms (CathNews 22/11/05)
Church groups pessimistic about welfare overhaul (CathNews 21/11/05)
Vinnies says welfare reforms lack fairness (CathNews 10/11/05)

16 Jul 2007