With up to 65% of federal government income spent each year on welfare in the health, education and social security sectors—a whopping $316 billion in the 2010-11 financial year—it is imperative that payments are targeted towards those most in need (1).
Rise Up Australia is committed to eliminating counter-productive welfare payments in favour of a system that will “ensure greater adequacy of incomes, encourage and assist clients to enter or return to the work force or to provide for their own income security, and develop support for families, particularly those on low incomes” (2).
Certain elements of government expenditure on welfare have been framed to win votes, rather than designed to pull those truly in need above the poverty line and into a reasonable standard of living (3).
The result of this wasteful ‘welfare churn’ is the push to introduce new payment schemes, such as Disability Care (formerly NDIS), for services that should have already been funded under the existing welfare system (4).
Rise Up Australia is determined to identify and eliminate this type of vote-buying wastage. We believe a welfare system should be designed to target and benefit vulnerable individuals and families struggling with risk factors that genuinely hinder their ability to support themselves financially.
Risk factors for poverty and unemployment may include chronic sickness; debilitating injury or mental illness; dependents with high support needs such as disabled children or incapacitated elderly parents; women, children and teenagers fleeing domestic violence (loss of home and possessions); or any one of a number of difficult life circumstances that can have an adverse impact on life outcomes.
Rise Up Australia believes that a welfare system should encourage savings, self-reliance, workforce participation, economic productivity and positive community contribution.
Our goal is to reduce unnecessary dependency on social security payments and housing support, particularly due to lack of work motivation and, where applicable, a refusal to commit to rehabilitation programs for drug and substance dependency.
We also urge all Australians to break free from the poverty trap brought on by debt burdens linked to credit, particularly those fuelled by materialism and poor impulse control.
Rise Up Australia will require a greater onus on banks to prove the financial capacity of individuals to pay off credit, such as mortgage loans, to avoid the type of situation that led to the global financial crisis and plunged many people into poverty and welfare dependence (5).
Our goal is to assist individuals and families to be as self-reliant as possible, but if they are faced with genuine risk factors, obtain the assistance they need through targeted programs.
To tackle our unemployment rate requires an integrated approach. Tailored return-to-work programs should link jobseekers to local community support services, provide return-to-work incentives and highlight pathways to skilled work.
Community support services may include referrals to local programs for child care; drug and alcohol rehabilitation; mental illness support; food banks; emergency accommodation (family violence/homelessness); financial counselling or a host of other assistance provided by government agencies or non-profit organisations.
Return-to-work incentives can include things such as purchasing a suit for job interviews or public transport cards to get jobseekers to their new workplace if they cannot afford it themselves. ‘Hand ups’ as opposed to ‘hand outs’ can be the tipping point for someone who is struggling with unemployment being able to enter the workforce.
Our goal is to consult with employment agencies and social welfare organisations to identify long-standing or trending ‘barriers to employment’ and frame our support policies to break down these walls. Campaigns to educate citizens on the services available to them to find employment is an important part of this process.
Pathways to skilled work may include providing information, referrals and support for the unemployed to take up subsidised apprenticeships or assistance to enter further studies to gain qualifications. We would also help parents who are re-entering the workforce and may need to reskill or remarket themselves to obtain employment that strikes a healthy work-family balance.
The welfare system under the Labor and Liberal Governments is a significant contributing factor to our growing national debt and in its current form is unsustainable. If left unchecked, we face a budget blowout from which it will be difficult to ever recover.
Our aim at Rise Up Australia is 100% employment for those who are capable of working. Eliminating wastage, targeting assistance for the vulnerable and establishing a welfare system that encourages self-reliance is essential to fortify our economy and build a strong future.
1 ‘Tax welfare churn and the Australian welfare state’, The Centre for Independent Studies, 14 March 2013, http://www.cis.org.au/publications/target30-research-papers/article/4752-tax-welfare-churn-and-the-australian-welfare-state
2 Debate on the Social Security Act, Parliament of Australia, Hansard, 20 February 1991, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Hansard/Search?header_0%24ctl02%24SiteSearch=rbSite&ind=0&st=1&sr=1&q=return+to+workforce+&expand=False&drvH=0&pnuH=0&f=20%2F02%2F1991&to=20%2F02%2F1991&pi=0&pv=&chi=0&coi=0&ps=10
3 Updated statistics can be found at ‘Poverty Lines: Australia’, Melbourne Institute of Labour Economics and Social Policy’, retrieved 19 August 2013, http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2013/05/what-is-the-typical-australian-income-in-2013/
4 ‘NDIS highlights welfare waste,’ The Australian, 27 March 2013, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/opinion/ndis-highlights-welfare-waste/story-e6frgd0x-1226607105786
5 ‘Global Financial Crisis: What caused it and how the world responded’, Canstar Research, 23 November 2012, http://www.canstar.com.au/home-loans/global-financial-crisis/