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Creating unemployment benefits

With the Senate Community Affairs Committee holding an inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart Allowance and an ongoing debate over the cashless debit card, it’s worth revisiting the origins of unemployment benefits in Australia. Read more...

Social Security Commission Bill 2018

The Social Security Commission Bill 2018 is a private member’s bill introduced by Cathy McGowan, the Member for Indi, on 20 August 2018. The Bill’s purpose is to create an independent commission to review the adequacy of social security payments. While it would make recommendations, it would not be responsible for setting payment rates. In her Second Reading Speech, Ms McGowan said: ‘I believe social security recipients should be able to have a standard of living that allows them to live with dignity.’ The Bill is supported by Rebekha Sharkie, the Centre Alliance member for Mayo. It is opposed by the Government. The then Minister for Social Services, Dan Tehan rejecte... Read more...

New Bill to extend the Farm Household Allowance

On 19 June 2018, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud announced that the Government would extend the time-limit for receipt of the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) from three to four years. The FHA is an income support payment, paid at the same rate as Newstart Allowance (or Youth Allowance if the recipient is aged under 22 years), which supports eligible farmers and their partners who are experiencing financial hardship. A Bill to extend the limit, the Farm Household Support Amendment Bill 2018, was introduced to the Parliament on 20 June 2018. Read more...

Power play: will the Energy Supplement be saved?

Recent media reports have suggested the Government may drop or modify legislation to close-off the Energy Supplement payment to new welfare recipients, in order to secure crossbench support for separate company tax measures. A Bill to close the Energy Supplement to all new income support recipients—including pensioners, allowance recipients and veterans’ payment recipients—has been before the House of Representatives since May 2017 but is yet to be debated. Read more...

Bereavement Allowance, Bereavement Payments and the Welfare Reform Bill

During the Senate debate on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017 (the Welfare Reform Bill), significant amendments were made to the way a proposed new lump-sum amount for newly bereaved welfare recipients would be calculated. The Senate eventually agreed to amendments proposed by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party and supported by the Government. Under these amendments, the rate of payment for a recipient of the proposed Jobseeker Payment whose partner has recently died will be broadly equivalent to the rate of the payment for newly-bereaved people that the Government is proposing to abolish: Bereavement Allowance. Read more...

New waiting periods for migrants to access social security and family assistance payments

The 2017–18 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) includes three measures limiting access to welfare for new migrants to Australia: introducing a three-year waiting period before new residents can access Family Tax Benefit, Paid Parental Leave and Carer Allowance extending the existing Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period that applies to some working-age payments such as Newstart and Youth Allowance from two years to three and extending the Assurance of Support requirement for family visas (where a person agrees to be financially responsible for a new migrant) from two-years to three. The measures are intended to commence 1 July 2018 and will save an estimated $1... Read more...

Working age population welfare dependence continues to fall

Relatively low unemployment rates and the effect of a series of changes to eligibility for some payments has seen the proportion of the working age population receiving income support continue to decline, since peaking at over 25% in 1994. Read more...

New restrictions on disability pensioners travelling overseas

In the midst of heated debate over the Budget’s welfare reforms some significant measures have escaped the headlines, including new restrictions on Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients travelling overseas. The measures, proposed by the Social Services and Other Legislation (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014, will reduce the time disability pensioners can spend overseas from six-weeks at a time to four weeks in a 12-month period. A number of submissions to the Senate committee inquiry into the Bill, from individual DSP recipients and from welfare groups, took issue with the changes suggesting that DSP was being unfairly targeted and that the measures would increase red tape. Read more...

What’s happening with the McClure welfare review?

The Government is conducting a review into welfare payments, headed by former Mission Australia CEO, Patrick McClure. This post briefly outlines what is currently known about the McClure review, including its objectives, processes and possible outcomes. Late in 2013, it was reported that McClure had been asked to provide recommendations on streamlining and improving Australia’s system of welfare payments. While initially it was thought that the review would examine the entire system, the Government clarified that it would only be looking into working age payments such as Newstart Allowance (NSA) and the Disability Support Pension (DSP). Payments such as Age Pension and the various for... Read more...

Future growth in DSP receipt—not all bad news

No doubt one of the priorities of the proposed review of income support payments will be the Disability Support Pension (DSP). DSP numbers have risen substantially in recent decades, despite numerous reforms designed to tighten eligibility and hence restrict growth. However a recent paper suggests that changes made to other income support payments have offset these reforms, and that the story is more positive than previous reports suggest.The factors behind DSP growthThe paper examines the factors behind the growth in DSP recipient numbers over the last 30 years, which rose from 216,600 in June 1982 to 827,500 in June 2012. Demography accounts for a significant amount, with an estimated 117,... Read more...

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