Employment Peaks State Case for Welfare Review
24 January 2014 at 4:11 pm
Employment service peak bodies have called on the Federal Government to help more people into work rather than tighten eligibility or reduce welfare payments.
The news comes as Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews announced that the Government would be reviewing Australia’s social welfare system.
Jobs Australia and Disability Employment Australia said the drivers behind the growth in welfare were largely demographic, with an ageing population the greatest single factor.
The peak bodies said that while the raw number of people on the Disability Support Pension had generally been trending upwards over the last decade, as a percentage of the working-age population it has remained relatively steady.
“We need to take a different perspective to initiate real change. Tinkering with payment rates and eligibility just makes people’s lives harder, it doesn’t help them find and keep employment,” Lynette May, CEO of Disability Employment Australia, said.
“This has been proven time and time again over the last decade.”
The peak bodies support simplifying welfare payments with the long-term goal of moving to a single working-age payment, with supplements for additional costs where relevant, but they said that doing so would mean significantly increasing the Newstart Allowance – at substantial cost to government – or reducing support for people with a disability.
“It’s already incredibly difficult for people with a disability to get the support they need,” CEO of Jobs Australia, David Thompson, said.
“We’re talking about people who need more support, not less.”
The peak bodies have called for a focus on how to help more people into work, through initiatives including removal of disincentives to work from the DSP and helping employers understand the business case for fostering diversity in their workforce.
Performance data for Australia’s employment services system showed that specialist programs that invest more in ongoing support for employers were delivering good outcomes, but performance would be improved with less red-tape.
“There is much more to be done if we want to be serious about having more people with disability contributing to society through inclusive workforces,” May said.
Click here to view Jobs Australia and Disability Employment Australia’s infographics on Disability and Employment in Australia and Disability Employment Services.