ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Fairness and consistency needed in Welfare Review

21 January 2014

The ACT Council of Social Service has cautiously welcomed the Federal Government’s announced Welfare Review as an opportunity to ensure a system that truly targets the people that are in need of assistance.

However, any review of welfare payments needs to focus on reducing inconsistency and unfairness in our income support and tax system, and addressing the barriers many people face in getting and keeping a job.

“The government does face fiscal challenges, but cutting access to income support and services will just further entrench unemployment and deprivation – and trap people on inadequate welfare payments,” said Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service.

“This government has demonstrated it expects low income households to bear the brunt of budget cuts, largely sparing those at the top end. The announcements so far on savings to government spending have hurt those on low incomes – for example, the abolition of the Income Support Bonus, the School Kids Bonus, and the Low Income Superannuation Contribution – whilst tax perks for superannuation contributions for high income households continue, and tax loop holes for income sharing and overseas income continue.”

Reducing growth in the number of people reliant on welfare payment requires action on three fronts:

  1. Improving employment opportunities (including through job creation) for people on Newstart, and reducing discrimination and other barriers to securing and keeping a job for people such as those living with disability and/or mental illness, single parents, and those experiencing other forms of disadvantage and/or marginalisation  
  2. Increasing consistency and fairness across the income support system, including sensible reform to the aged pension and superannuation system
  3. Maintaining adequate revenue to government so it can fund the things that matter – including an income support scheme and services that reduce deprivation and assist people to overcome barriers to employment, get out of poverty and to build financial independence

Ms Helyar concluded, “It is important to ensure an adequate safety net that provides consistent and fair income support eligibility and compliance requirements across different life stages without going backwards in the level of support given to those who need it most.”

For more information or comment please contact
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987.