Australians Working Together – Government Report
Tuesday, 21st May 2002 at 1:05 pm
A key platform of the Government’s welfare reform funding is the implementation of Australians Working Together… and with this policy of modernising the welfare system has come the release of a national report based on the Government’s community consultation work to coincide with the Budget.
Overall, the Government report says Australians welcomed the chance to have a say. They supported Australians Working Together and pointed to the core concepts and concrete actions they thought worked best and should be preserved.
People also highlighted the things that they believed could limit the successful delivery of Australians Working Together in their local communities and made suggestions for improvements.
The report claims that the breadth of the welfare reform agenda has meant that not all issues raised in the consultation process can be adequately addressed in the short-term.
Chaired by Mission Australia CEO Patrick McClure, a Reference Group was set up back in 2000 and consulted widely with people in meetings around the country. More than 360 individuals and groups contributed through written submissions. The Government says since then thousands of people have been involved in the consultation process around the country.
A number of submissions expressed concern about the impact of compulsory volunteering on organisations, saying it could interfere with the core work of charities or destroy the ethic of volunteering. (See Volume 5 Edition 8.)
In response the report says it is conscious of this concern and has confirmed that no person will be compelled to undertake voluntary work and no organisation will be compelled to take volunteers. Organisations and individuals will be able to choose whether they wish to participate.
The Government believes that one of the most important benefits of the Australians Working Together consultations was the way the community pointed to a range of issues that need to be considered in the agenda for future welfare reform.
The report says Australians Working Together was always designed to be the first stage of the reform process and is deliberately cautious on the extent of change that can be taken in the first phase.
The consultations showed that people supported the direction of the reform process and the major initiatives in Australians Working Together. They gave advice and suggestions on how to ensure smooth implementation.
But many also raised more complex obstacles to their social and economic participation in local communities, such as the availability of services, the integration of government service delivery, the barriers to regional employment, and the level of community capacity.
The report says these issues do not only relate to the implementation of Australians Working Together or only to welfare reform — they are broader social issues relevant to all Australians. These are issues that have emerged over time, and will take time to bring about longer-term change.
For those interested in the Budget ‘dollar’ figures…here are some to consider.
AUSTRALIANS WORKING TOGETHER —
SUMMARY OF KEY INITIATIVES
Help to participate — $526 million
Working Credit and Literacy and Numeracy Training Supplement.
Helping people find jobs — $324 million
Employment services: Job Search Training, Intensive Assistance, Work for the Dole, community work, literacy and numeracy, Transition to Work and Training Credits.
Getting people the right help — $143 million
Personal Support Program, better assessment and improved
Information Technology (IT).
Helping parents return to work — $251 million
Support & assistance through Centrelink Personal Advisers, Participation Pack,
Transition to Work Program
More child care places — $16 million
Outside school hours child care places
“A fair go” for mature aged people — $146 million
Access to Personal Advisers, Literacy and Numeracy Training, rehabilitation, disability services and education, training, financial information and counselling.
A better deal for people with disabilities — $177 million
Early intervention, employment services and education and training.
Promoting self-reliance for Indigenous Australians — $83 million
Employment services, community capacity building, education and training and remote area services.
Community and business engagement — $22 million
PM’s Community Business Partnership & community consultation & communication.
Planning for the future — $5 million
Pilots and evaluations