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Welfare to Work legislation.



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Hon Kevin Andrews MP

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service 05 December, 2005

Media Release

Welfare To Work Legislation

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews today announced key Government

responses to the Community Affairs Legislation majority report on the Welfare to Work legislation.

The legislation is supported by a $3.6 billion package to provide increased levels of employment services and

other assistance including rehabilitation to people looking for a job.

“The Government has accepted the recommendations of the recent Senate Majority Report which

includes granting automatic exemptions from participation requirements for parents of large

families with four or more children aged between six and fifteen.

“Parents who receive this exemption will receive a top up payment at the same rate that is paid to

other principal carers with automatic exemptions.” Mr Andrews said.

Mr Andrews said key recommendations from the Committee have been accepted as common sense proposals that

would enhance the legislation aimed at giving many more people on welfare the chance of a job. (see attachment).

“This is in contrast to proposals from the Australian Democrats which will do nothing to improve the prospects of

moving people from welfare to work and are simply seeking to maintain the status quo.

“We know that the current arrangements do not adequately support, assist or encourage people of working age to

move from welfare to work.

“The 700,000 children growing up in jobless households don’t need their parents to be given further excuses and

exemptions as to why they should not be participating in the workforce and getting a job. “ Mr Andrews said.

Government’s Response To Senate Committee Report On Welfare To Work Bill 2005

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that the Government closely examine the interface between further education,

welfare and the needs of a changing labour market on a periodic basis.

Response

Minister Andrews will be seeking Minister Nelson’s ongoing co-operation to establish a cross portfolio working

group, including other relevant portfolios as necessary, to provide advice on the next steps the Ministers can take

together to reduce welfare dependency and increase employment, education and training outcomes.

Recommendation 2

The Committee recommends that the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations reassess which of the

guidelines under the package are to be disallowable by the Parliament; that is, that it ensure key aspects of the

guidelines be determined by disallowable instruments. This will ensure consistency in application as well as

appropriate Parliamentary scrutiny. In particular, the Committee recommends that guidelines dealing with what

constitutes unsuitable paid employment, special family circumstances, suitable and unsuitable activities for participation, and compliance issues are based on disallowable instruments.

Response

It is proposed that amendments to the Bill be made that require the making of disallowable instruments. One

amendment will be required in Schedules 4, 5, 7 and 10 in relation to each of the following: unsuitable work,

unsuitable activities in agreements and special family circumstances.

In relation to compliance, three amendments will be required in each of those Schedules and also in Schedule 6.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends that the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations table in the

Parliament, on an annual basis, key data on the implementation of the Welfare to Work package.

Response

On the annual report to Parliament on the implementation of the Welfare to Work measures, Minister Andrews

proposes that separate reports on key data on the Welfare to Work measures be included in my Department’s

Annual Report and those of the Departments of the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator the

Hon Kay Patterson, and the Minister for Human Services, the Hon Joe Hockey MP.

Recommendation 4

The Committee recommends that an automatic exemption from participation requirements be extended to

parents of large families.

Response

It is proposed that an amendment to the Bill be made specifying the automatic exemption for large families. The

exemption would cease when there are less than four children aged between six and fifteen. This will include the

top up payments in line with primary carers in receipt of Parenting Payment or Newstart who home schoolers,

distance educators and registered and active foster carer

For further information contact:

Russ Street 0417 044 712