Welfare an issue of inequality not idleness: Vinnies

12/05/2011

In its response to the 2011 Federal Budget, the St Vincent de Paul Society has welcomed the Government's training initiatives but criticised its harsher welfare compliance measures.

"A harsher welfare compliance regime and the extension of compulsory income management are measures that assume that if you are disadvantaged your problem is idleness," St Vincent de Paul Society National Council CEO, Dr John Falzon said.

"Idleness is not the problem. The problem is entrenched inequality.

"The Government has stated its good intention to train Australians. We support this investment unreservedly. But you don’t create a smart and confident Australia by taking to people with the stick. This might have been the educational philosophy of years gone by and it might be a clever way of scoring political points, but it will not build a stronger, smarter economy or a fairer society."

Dr Falzon said for a single unemployed person, the battle to survive on $34 a day is a battle that is waged from below the poverty line.

"The government is right to look at this and say that life should be better, but wrong to claim that the answer lies in making life harder," Dr Falzon said.

"We encourage the Government to seriously analyse the actual causes of unemployment, especially in areas of concentrated disadvantage. We applaud place-based initiatives that support people who have been left out or pushed out. We also welcome the boost to mental health spending.

"But we cannot condone the Dickensian rhetoric of needing to take a stick to the backs of the poor."


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