(26 October 2016) Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) sympathises with Human Resources Minister, Alan Tudge’s frustration that many young people are caught, as he says in ‘welfare dependency’, and that Centrelink might accept ‘reasonable excuses’ for job seekers not presenting themselves for interview.
CRA sympathises even more with the frustration of so many young people who have been unable to find work or enough work. Punishing people for not being vigorous in their search for work is another form of the tired ‘trickle down error’. The government demands that people who are unable to attend interviews will not receive any assistance for four to five weeks. This will leave them short of food, money for travel to interviews, and for rent or board and laundry services.
CRA supports those welfare groups that have called for an increase in Newstart allowance rather than imposing stricter obligations. The Minister argues the current regime is too weak because people on welfare payments can refuse work if they have a reasonable excuse. According to the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Australia has one of the tightest welfare compliance systems in the world.
If many jobseekers are falling back on the government for support it is due to the fact that many have lost hope of finding work that is suitable for them. It is unconscionable that an unemployed young person would have to wait four weeks for payments. These are harsh cuts to people on low or no income. Recipients on government benefits are being pressured more and more to step up and 'take responsibility' for situations that are out of their control. According to Anglicare, people on Newstart spend 122 percent of their income. They continually go backwards and are likely to be in housing stress and face food insecurity.
CRA maintains that it is unrealistic to eat, pay rent, and job seek on a Newstart payment and calls on the Minister to allow the people in Centrelink who are close to vulnerable people in the community to make judgements based on personal needs and circumstances.
For inquiries, please contact:
Sr Rosemary Grundy pbvm
CRA Executive Director