The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has warned that increasing the punishment of the unemployed, will result in worsening poverty and joblessness.
The government’s welfare bill, which has already been presented in parliament, does just this. It’s planned overhaul of the welfare system neglects a real strategy, to combat unemployment and is most likely effect will be to create a bigger reserve of desperate people, who can be pressured into underpaid and dangerous work, and with few rights on the job.
Newstart and the Youth Allowance are already so low that they act as a barrier to employment, when the expense involved in looking for a job can’t be met.
Welfare advocacy groups have been mounting a final effort to convince Senate crossbenchers not to pass the harshest elements of the Coalition’s social security legislation.
The bill introduces tougher punishments for jobseekers accused of a beech. It also makes it take longer to start getting benefits, by delaying the commencement date for Newstart and Youth Allowance payments. The government claims that this will stop applicants from not keeping appointments and increase their preparedness to look for work.
Currently, those welfare payments begin when the recipient first meets with an employment services provider. Payments will no longer be backdated. but are back paid to the date a claim for welfare is first made.
Delaying this further, will make a bad situation even worse for those who do not have the means to feed themselves and maintain shelter. It will mean more people becoming homeless, a problem that has been growing around Australia.
The joint parliamentary committee on human rights last year raised concerns that the change may breach human rights, namely the right to social security and the right to an adequate standard of living.
ACOSS has called for a $75 per week increase to Newstart.
This has been rejected by the government.