Anglicare Australia acting Executive Director, Roland Manderson today warned that the interim report on welfare reform (McClure) could be used as a stalking horse to further stigmatise the most disadvantaged members of Australian society.
“Almost everyone who accesses welfare will tell you the system is too complex. And almost everyone with the capacity to work would like a job,” Mr Manderson said.
“The underlying issue here is that pensions and allowances are simply too low. The harsh poverty endured by those on Newstart, for example, creates more problems for us all. Unless the McClure panel argues for real increases in income support, its recommendations will simply push people further into hardship.
“We are very concerned with the plan to shift more people off the Disability Pension onto Newstart, or something similar. Firstly there are not the jobs available for people with disability to fill. Secondly, the Disability Pension already only goes to people who really are extensively incapacitated.
“The talk about giving people more incentive to work can end up as code for undermining their security, and allow others to blame them for their circumstances.
“Of course, there are many more elements in this review that warrant a close look. The government has had the paper since before Easter. To release it now while the sector is still dealing with the incredible work load brought on by this budget, and allow only six weeks for response, does not suggest the government is interested in the views of the sector, nor the people who will be most affected.”