The proposed welfare changes are impractical and punitive

Samaritans CEO

The Government’s proposed welfare changes are unlikely to improve the well-being of people in need and will likely see increased inequality and disadvantage in Australia, cumulating to further poverty. Australia is facing growing inequality where the cost of living is rising faster than wages or government payments.  Inequality is now the worst it has been in 75 years, in spite of two decades of uninterrupted economic growth.

Those doing it tough in our community have already been hit with massive energy costs leading to a record number of disconnection rates and now must brace for the detriment of the Government’s proposed welfare changes.  Measures like the new demerit point system, random drug testing and increased obligations to look for work that isn’t there can be viewed as cruel and punitive. There is no evidence to back the effectiveness of such measures. This is simply another undue pressure for families who are already doing it tough, that will also put strain on the welfare sector.

In the Hunter region and across NSW, there are nearly five disadvantaged job seekers for every vacancy at their skill level. There are simply not enough jobs – or enough hours – to cater for the number of people who are looking for work.

The proposed welfare changes will target the people who are already doing it tough– instead of offering relief, people who need help are being scapegoated and demonised.

From our provision of Emergency Relief services across regional New South Wales, Samaritans is acutely aware that pressures on families are increasing. Changes in welfare support not only result in a negative impact on vulnerable people but also on providers who experience increased demand for services and support. Samaritans will support all genuine initiatives to help families and children who are struggling to get by, but a reliable welfare support system that ensures stability for families is needed to underpin our work.