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Australians with disabilities slam 'welfare to work' scam.



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Media Release

Penny Wong Labor Senator for South Australia Shadow Minister for Employment and Workforce Participation, Corporate Governance and Responsibility

Monday 30 May 2005

Australians with disabilities slam 'welfare to work' scam

The Howard Government's so-called 'welfare to work' scheme, which creates a new dole payment for people with a disability, has been rejected by disabled Australians, Shadow Employment Minister Penny Wong said today.

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) today launched a campaign to hit the Howard Government where it hurts - in marginal seats.

"The Howard Government has been put on notice by Australians with a disability," Senator Wong said.

"People with disabilities know that if the Government is to help them move into work, it needs to provide the right supports, encouragement and incentives - as well as help improve employer attitudes.

"But it is clear that the core of the Government's scheme is to move people from one welfare payment to a lower welfare payment.

"The lower payment does nothing to improve job outcomes. In fact, people will lose more of every dollar earned under this new payment - robbing them of the incentive to work.

"And the Howard Government is doing nothing to address the dramatic decline in its own employment of people with a disability.

"Since 1996, the proportion of Australian Government employees with a disability has dropped from 5.6% to 3.8%. The Howard Government should be leading by example.

"But as usual, they are the real shirkers. They refuse to do the hard yards and instead just put people on lower payments."

Senator Wong noted that the campaign launch coincided with Senate Estimates hearings where the Government continued to refuse to provide details of cuts to people with a disability.

"It is fair enough that people with disabilities are unhappy with the Howard Government - it is treating them with contempt. The Howard Government isn't even prepared to tell people with disabilities how much they are losing."

For further information:

• John Olenich 0408 841 850