Thursday, 26 February 2015

More responses and media coverage of the McClure report

We can expect more analysis as people have time to read the welfare reform report A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes, released yesterday, and as we are better able to anticipate its impacts on the welfare system, both for those who already receive benefits, and those who will become eligible under new criteria. These responses are from yesterday and today:

Welfare reform will succeed with the right employment support
Inclusion Australia, 26th February 2015
... Getting a job is good. Good for the individual and the federal budget. Investment in support that works is value for money. Inclusion Australia presented two case studies of evidence based practice to the consultation — Audrey and David. These show that with the right right support, it is possible to get a job and reduce reliance on the pension ...

The Drum (ABC 24) 25th February, 2015
Graeme Innes (former Disability Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission) is a specialist guest panellist for the first discussion in this episode, on the McClure Report. He provides a clear, concise insight into what reform needs to achieve for people with disability, especially from an employment perspective (his participation starts at 7m 50s, following a more general discussion of the report).

Changes proposed for disability support payments to encourage people into work
Every Australian Counts, 25th February 2015
... For people on the Disability Support Pension with a severe or permanent disability, the report recommends ‘a supported living pension.’ The rules would be tighter for this payment – only those with a disability expected to last more than five years would be eligible.

For others with some capacity to work, the report recommends moving onto a ‘working age payment’ which would have a tiered level of payment with higher rates for people depending on their disability and how much they could work or study.

Mr McClure was at pains to stress that “no individual moving from the old system to the new system will experience a reduction in their rate of payment”.

The report also calls for government to step up on their employment of people with disability and mental health conditions and for a more extensive jobs package to help people get into work.

The Minister responsible, Scott Morrison, welcomed the report but has not said if the government will implement it, claiming it is being considered as part of decisions for the next Budget in May ...

NFPs (Not-for profits) React to McClure Welfare Review
Lina Caneva, ProBono News Australia, 25th February 2015
The Federal Government has released the long-awaited final report of the review of Australia’s welfare system including controversial recommendations around Disability Support Pensions which has had a mixed reaction from the Not for Profit sector.

The report recommends a new disability payment which would be restricted to people unable to work more than eight hours a week ...

Welfare Review: right questions, flawed model
Australian Council for Social Services, 25th February 2015
Though welcoming key aspects of the McClure report released today, the Australian Council of Social Service said the final report of the Federal Government's commissioned review of Australia's welfare system was a missed opportunity to move to a more rational system based on people's financial need rather than decisions about ‘deservedness' ...

Welfare reform must be backed by job creation
Veronica Sheen, The Drum, 25th February 2015
Making it easier for people to move from welfare to employment is laudable, but this report won't solve the fundamental problem that there are far more people looking for work than there are job vacancies ... it is great that Patrick McClure and the members of the welfare review panel are so insistent that employment outcomes be the centrepiece and main motivating principle of Australia's social welfare system. It does seem strange though because welfare-to-work has most definitely been a central motif of Australian social welfare policy for a very long time. There are strenuous work-search requirements on unemployed people and heavy caveats placed on people with disabilities to prove their entitlement to a payment.

Welfare reform: key players weigh in
Emily Bowden, The New Daily, 25th February 2015
The federal government’s ambitious review of the $150 billion welfare system has been cautiously welcomed by both the disability sector and the Labor Party ... Major players warned, however, that work needs to be “worthwhile” for people with disabilities, with Social Services Minister Scott Morrison admitting certain payments were “isolating” ...

Compassionate and rational, but too brave a world for the times
Rick Morton, The Australian, 25th February 2015
Patrick McClure’s bid to rid the nation’s bolt-on social support system of spiralling inequity and confusion is at times compassionate, rational and brave.

It will take a braver government, together with as much political capital as it can muster, to realise the vision.

Such bold plans are fraught, as McClure knows all too well, after the Howard government largely ignored his last welfare assessment commissioned in 1999.

John Howard recoiled at ­reforming the payment system and doubled down on mutual obligation principles instead, like ­developing the 2005 welfare-to-work package.

Time has not been a friend of the system. The structure, which includes 20 income payments and 55 scattergun supplements and ­allowances, is so opaque people who could access payments sometimes don’t even know they exist ...

Rick Morton, The Australian, 26th February 2015
Community groups and the lead author of the welfare review have warned the government not to “cherry pick” from the report as it forges ahead with ­reform.

Patrick McClure told The Australian it was a “shame” recommendations from his report for John Howard, other than his focus on welfare-to-work policies, were left on the scrapheap.

“The key is it is an integrated approach. You can’t do one pillar without the others,” he said. Similarly, he said, Labor should not oppose it for opposition’s sake. “The sadness would be that just because an opposition has got to oppose government policy that they choose not to support it,” he said.

While welfare groups supported the broad thrust of the report, particularly its emphasis on investment and clarity, many were troubled by the detail, or lack of it ...

McClure welfare review offers second chance for reform
Rick Morton, The Australian, 26th February 2015
If the federal government accepts the bulk of Patrick McClure’s social security review then it will enter the time warp once again, a sort of Rocky Horror Welfare Show.

Everything old is new again.

It has been 15 years since the same McClure reviewed the same system for the ideological mentor of the current Prime Minister, John Howard.

The new report, released yesterday, comes to similar conclusions: the system of payments is a Frankenstein’s monster of bolt-on supplements and income payments, too cumbersome to administer and too poorly targeted to the most in need ...

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