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Assistance not threats needed in welfare reform.

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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Lyn Allison Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Victoria

Senator Brian Greig Democrats Senator for Western Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Family & Community Services

Dated: 16 April 2005

Press Release Number: 05/184 Portfolio: Family & Community Services

Assistance not threats needed in welfare reform

People with a disability or those who are raising children alone are keen to work as much as their disability or parenting responsibilities permit, according to the Australian Democrats.

Australian Democrats Leader, Senator Lyn Allison says todays meeting of Cabinet should consider these things in deciding on a new program of Welfare Reform.

"Welfare Reform is not new, four years ago the McClure Welfare Reform Report made a number of recommendations which would have assisted Australians with a disability and those raising children alone," Senator Allison said.

"Instead of implementing the recommendations completely, the Government has cherry picked from the report, implementing only those aspects which would reduce expenditure such as compelling sole parents with young children to undertake compulsory activities, while refusing to implement the beneficial aspects such as recognition of the cost of disability."

Democrats Family & Community Services spokesperson, Senator Brian Greig says the Government has done very little about incentives to employers to take on a person with a disability and nothing about meeting the extra costs that people with a disability face including accessible transport and work aids.

"High effective marginal tax rates, together with loss of health and other concessions mean that people are often worse off in employment," Senator Greig said.

"The Government is quick to demean single parents as unworthy, but parenting is a worthwhile activity which does not stop when a child turns six. This is made even harder when a parent is alone. Widowed, separated or single parents should not be punished and children should not be left vulnerable because of the loss of support of a partner."

Senator Greig says not all schools have Out of School hours or vacation care programs. There is a chronic shortage of available and affordable childcare and without it, children will be left at risk.

The Howard Government has a system of double standards at the same time as it intends to compel single parents of young children to leave them at home to undertake work, it pays Family Tax Benefit B to married wealthy parents provided one parent stays at home to parent children who may be older than 17years.

"Address the barriers to employment and people will participate," Senator Greig said.