2015 Can be ‘Year of Employment’
12 January 2015 at 11:05 am
New Social Services Minister Scott Morrison has been urged by peak community welfare organisations to make 2015 a positive year for employment, with a particular focus on the disadvantaged.
CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), Dr Cassandra Goldie and President of the National Welfare Rights Network (NWRN), Maree O’Halloran, said “Australia’s social security system provides safety for families and individuals and helps stabilise the economy in downturns" and it should be strengthened.
The pair pointed to Government plans to cut employment benefits to young people as potentially one of the most damaging ideas put forward by the Abbott Government last year.
“Of the more than 20 major social security changes flagged in the 2014 Federal Budget, the most extreme involved denying people under 30 years of age unemployment payments for six months of each year,” they said.
“The Government estimated that 110,000 people each year would be impacted by this policy with some becoming destitute. The Government planned to set aside $230 million over four years for food parcels and other emergency relief for those made destitute by this policy.
“The Senate rejected a proposal to raise the eligibility age for Newstart Allowance to 25 for young unemployed people. Due to start on 1 January 2015, over a 12 month period, this measure would leave around 70,000 young people with $48 a week less to live on.”
Cassandra Goldie and Maree O’Halloran said the Government also needed to heed the calls of disability welfare groups.
“ACOSS, along with the Welfare Rights Network and hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities and their families and carers await the release of the Government’s review of the welfare system with high levels of both caution and concern,” they said.
"While the simplification of social security payments is important, a more critical issue for the overall health of our system is found in addressing the concerns of both the adequacy of payments, especially for those on allowance payments and the provision of more effective employment assistance.
“Leaks suggest over time, payments for people with disabilities will be reduced and that some people with certain types of disabilities should be paid lesser amounts because of the nature of their disability. Indications are that people with psychiatric or mental illnesses will be singled out, despite evidence pointing to the global dimensions of mental health problems, and evidence suggesting that employers are less likely to employ people with mental health conditions.
Taking over the role of Social Services after a Cabinet reshuffle that saw him moved from the Immigration portfolio, Scott Morrison said he also wanted disadvantaged people to be provided with employment opportunities.
“I will now turn my attention to our welfare system and working to ensure the integrity, dignity and sustainability of our safety net,” Morrison said.
“But the best social service we can afford any Australian to help them deal with the costs of living, is a job. Getting as many Australians as are able off welfare and into work will be one of my core goals.”
Goldie and O’Halloran said it was time for the Government to work towards closing the growing gaps of disadvantage.
"We want to see the Government make a new start in 2015, by scrapping harmful legislation currently before Parliament and working with us to develop a strategy to address growing poverty and the jobs crisis facing our country," they said.
"For all the latest in jobs in the Not for Profit sector go to https://probonoaustralia.com.au/jobs