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Community Affairs Legislation Committee—Senate Standing—Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021 [Provisions]—Report, dated September 2021


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September 2021

The Senate

Community Affairs Legislation Committee

Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021 [Provisions]

©

Commonwealth of Australia

ISBN 978-1-76093-292-3

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.

T

he details of this licence are available on the Creative Commons website: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

Printed by the Senate Printing Unit, Parliament House, Canberra

iii

Committee Members

LP,

TAS

AG

, WA

AG, VIC

ALP

, QLD LP, SA ALP, TAS LP, WA

AG,

TAS

Chair Senator Wendy Askew

Deputy Chair Senator Rachel Siewert (until 7 September 2021) Senator Janet Rice (from 7 September 2021)

Members Senator Nita Green S

enator Andrew McLachlan CSC Senator Helen Polley Senator Dean Smith

Participating Members Senator Nick McKim

Secretariat Pothida Youhorn, Committee Secretary Lisa Butson, Senior Research Officer Claire Holden, Administrative Officer

PO Box 6100 Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 Phone: 02 6277 3515 Fax: 02 6277 5829 E-mail: community.affairs.sen@aph.gov.au Internet: www.aph.gov.au/senate_ca

v

Table of Contents

Committee Members ........................................................................................................................ iii

Abbreviations ................................................................................................................................... vii

List of Recommendations ................................................................................................................. ix

Chapter 1—Introduction .................................................................................................................... 1

Purpose of the bill ................................................................................................................................ 1

Background .......................................................................................................................................... 1

Key provisions of the bill .................................................................................................................... 3

Exemptions ................................................................................................................................ 4

Schedule 1 - Social security amendments ............................................................................. 5

Schedule 2 - Family assistance amendments ........................................................................ 5

Schedule 3 - Paid parental leave amendments .................................................................. 5

Financial implications .......................................................................................................................... 6

Legislative scrutiny ............................................................................................................................. 6

Conduct of the inquiry ........................................................................................................................ 7

Note on references .............................................................................................................................. 7

Chapter 2—Key issues........................................................................................................................ 9

Policy principles .................................................................................................................................. 9

Impact on migrants ............................................................................................................................ 11

Employment outcomes .......................................................................................................... 11

Women and children .............................................................................................................. 13

Previous time in Australia ................................................................................................................ 16

Exemption provisions ........................................................................................................................ 18

Accessibility of exemptions ................................................................................................... 19

Adequacy of exemptions ....................................................................................................... 21

Committee view ................................................................................................................................ 23

Dissenting Report from Labor Senators ....................................................................................... 25

Di

ssenting Report from the Australian Greens .......................................................................... 31

Appendix 1—Submissions and additional information ........................................................... 37

Appendix 2—Public Hearings ........................................................................................................ 39

vii

Abbreviations

AASW Australian Association of Social Workers

bill Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent

Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021

committee Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee DSS Department of Social Services

EJA Economic Justice Australia

Family Tax Benefit Family Tax Benefit Part A and Family Tax Benefit Part B FECCA Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of

Australia

human rights committee Parliamentary Joint Statutory Committee on Human Rights LCA Law Council of Australia

MCA Migration Council of Australia

MYAN Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network

NARWP Newly arrived resident’s waiting period

QCOSS Queensland Council of Social Service

SCA Settlement Council of Australia

SSRV Social Security Rights Victoria

UCA UnitingCare Australia

ix

List of Recommendations

Recommendation 1

2.76 The committee recommends that the bill be passed.

1

Chapter 1 Introduction

Purpose of the bill 1.1 The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021 (bill) proposes to standardise the waiting period for newly arrived migrants to access particular social security payments. The

Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period (NARWP) would be increased to four years and would apply to the following payments and concession cards:

 Carer Payment;  Carer Allowance;  Parental Leave Pay;  Dad and Partner Pay;  Family Tax Benefit - Part A and Part B;  the Low Income Health Care Card; and  the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.1

1.2 A

ccording to the Explanatory Memorandum, the rationale for standardising the NARWP across all relevant payments is to '[make] the system simpler and easier for new migrants to understand’.2 The Explanatory Memorandum also notes that the waiting and qualifying residency periods for access to social security payments are designed to reflect the ‘reasonable expectation’ that newly arrived migrants will be financially self-sufficient when they first permanently settle in Australia.3

Background 1.3 Australia’s social security system is funded from general government revenue and operates on a residency and needs based approach. This approach is different from other countries in which social security payments are funded by

direct contributions from employers and individuals, and payments are often calculated on the level and duration of these contributions.4

1 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021,

E

xplanatory Memorandum (EM), p. 3.

2 EM, p. 3.

3 EM, p. 1; Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent Waiting Period for New Migrants)

B

ill 2021, Second Reading Speech (Second Reading Speech), p. 1.

4 Department of Social Services (DSS), Social Security Payments - Re sidence Criteria, 30 June 2021,

https://www.dss.gov.au/about-the-department/international/policy/social-security-payments-residence-criteria (accessed 30 August 2021); EM, p. 1.

2

1.4 To access Australia’s social security system individuals, at a minimum, must be an Australia resident, as defined by the Social Security Act 1991. Other requirements for access to payments may include waiting periods and income or asset tests.5

1.5 The NARWP is one requirement to access the social security system. It is classified as the time a person spends in Australia as an Australian resident.6 Any time a person travels outside of Australia does not count towards the waiting period for payments.7 Additionally, for most temporary visa holders, the time spent in Australia on a temporary visa does not count towards the NARWP.

1.6 The NARWP was first introduced in 1993. In 1997, additional payments became subject to the NARWP and the NARWP was increased from 26 weeks (six months) to 104 weeks (two years). Further changes in 2018 extended the NARWP from two years to four years for the following payments:

 Job Seeker Payment;  Youth Allowance (student and other);  Austudy;  Parenting Payment;  Farm Household Allowance; and  Special Benefit.8

1.7

The 2021-22 Budget announced the proposed increase of the NARWP to four years.9

5 DSS, Social Security Payments - Residence Criteria, 30 June 2021, https://www.dss.gov.au/about-the-department/international/policy/social-security-payments-residence-criteria (accessed 30 August 2021).

6 A person is classified as an Australian resident if they are: an Australian citizen, a permanent

resident, or a protected Special Category visa holder. Services Australia, Residence descriptions, 1 July 2021 https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/topics/residence-descriptions/30391#ausresident (accessed 30 August 2021).

7 Services Australia, Newly arrived resident's waiting period, 10 August 2021,

https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/topics/newly-arrived-residents-waiting-period/30726 (accessed 30 August 2021).

8 Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee, Social Services Legislation Amendment

(Encouraging Self-sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants) Bill 2018 [Provisions], November 2018, p. 1; Michael Klapdor, ‘Social security - Budget Review 2021-22’, Parliamentary Library, https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/p ubs/rp/BudgetReview202122/SocialSecurity (accessed 28 June 2021).

9 Commonwealth of Australia, Budget Measures: Budget Paper No. 2, 2021-22, p. 179; Services

Australia, ‘Apply a Consistent Four-Year Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period Across Payments’, 11 May 2021, https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-22-budget-19.pdf (accessed 28 June 2021).

3

1.8 Table 1.1 summarises the previous, current and proposed NARWP for the relevant payments.

Previous rules Visas granted before 1 January 2019

Current rules Visas granted between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2021

Proposed rules Visas granted on or after 1 January 2022

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

2 years 4 years* 4 years

Low Income Health Care Card 2 years 4 years* 4 years

Carer Payment 2 years 2 years 4 years

Carer Allowance Nil 1 year 4 years

Parental Leave Pay

Nil 2 years 4 years

Dad and Partner Pay

Nil 2 years 4 years

Family Tax Benefit Part A

Nil 1 year 4 years

Family Tax Benefit Part B

Nil Nil 4 years

* The NARWP is 2 years for certain visa classes. Source: Department of Social Services, Submission 17, p. 2.

1.9 The bill does not propose to introduce a NARWP for the Childcare Subsidy, Double Orphan Pension and Stillborn Baby Payment, which are not subject to a NARWP.

Key provisions of the bill 1.10 The bill contains three schedules which amends the following four acts:

 the Social Security Act 1991;  the Social Security (International Agreements) Act 1999;  the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999; and  the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010.

1.11 The proposed amendments to each Act would apply a 208 week NARWP across the payments included in the respective Acts.

Table 1.1 Social security payments subject to a NARWP

4

1.12 The provisions of the bill will only apply to a person who becomes the holder of a permanent visa or other relevant temporary visa on or after 1 January 2022.

1.13 Individuals who become a permanent visa holder prior to 1 January 2022 will be subject to the current arrangements as specified in the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Promoting Sustainable Welfare) Act 2018.10

1.14 Additionally, those who transfer from a relevant temporary visa to a permanent visa will be subject to the waiting periods that applied when they were granted a temporary visa.11

Exemptions 1.15 The bill does not amend the current exemptions to the NARWP within the specified Acts.

1.16 Australian citizens are exempt from waiting periods and as a result migrants who are granted citizenship during their waiting period will not be required to serve the remainder of the waiting period to be eligible to receive payments.12

1.17 Permanent humanitarian entrants and their family members are exempt from the NARWP for all payments and concession cards.13

1.18 Orphan and remaining relative visa holders are excluded from the changes to the NARWP and will remain subject to the rules in place prior to 1 January 2019.14

1.19 Temporary humanitarian-type visa holders (subclasses 449, 785, 786, 790, 060 and 070) are exempt from the NARWP for Special Benefit, the Low Income Health Care Card, Family Tax Benefit, Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay.15

1.20 Permanent Carer Visa holders (subclass 116 and 836) are exempt from the NARWP for Carer Payment and Carer Allowance.16

1.21 New Zealand citizens on a Special Category Visa (subclass 444) are also exempt from the NARWP for Family Tax Benefit, Parental Leave Pay, and Dad and Partner Pay.17

10 EM, p. 3.

11 EM, p. 3.

12 EM, p. 3; DSS, Submission 17, p. 3.

13 DSS, Submission 17, p. 3.

14 Second Reading Speech, p. 3.

15 DSS, Submission 17, p. 3.

16 DSS, Submission 17, p. 3.

17 DSS, Submission 17, p. 4.

5

1.22 The existing exemptions from the NARWP within the Social Security Act 1991, A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 and the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 for certain visa holders and those who experience hardship or a substantial change in circumstance will continue to apply in the application of this bill.18

Schedule 1 - Social security amendments 1.23 Schedule 1 amends the Social Security Act 1991 and the Social Security (International Agreements) Act 1991.

1.24 The schedule increases the NARWP for Carer Payment and Carer Allowance from 104 weeks (two years) and 52 weeks (one year) respectively, to 208 weeks (four years). It also applies the existing 208 week NARWP for the Low Income Health Care Card and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card to Special Category visa holders and temporary partner visa holders.19

1.25 It removes the qualifying residency requirements for the parenting payment as it is already subject to a 208 week NARWP and removes references to payments which are no longer available, such as the bereavement allowance.20

1.26 Schedule 1 also includes consequential amendments to the Social Security (International Agreements) Act 1991 which are consistent with the proposed changes to the Social Security Act 1991.21

Schedule 2 - Family assistance amendments 1.27 Schedule 2 amends the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 and increases the NARWP for Family Tax Benefit Part A from 52 weeks to 208 weeks and introduces a 208 week NARWP for Family Tax Benefit Part B.22

Schedule 3 - Paid parental leave amendments 1.28 Schedule 3 amends the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 and increases the NARWP for Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay from 104 weeks to 208 weeks.23

18 EM, p. 4.

19 EM, Notes on clauses, p. 2.

20 EM, Notes on clauses, pp. 2-4.

21 EM, Notes on clauses, pp. 6-7.

22 EM, Notes on clauses, p. 8.

23 EM, Notes on clauses, p. 10.

6

Financial implications 1.29 The measures in the bill are expected to result in total net savings of approximately $672 million over the forward estimates to 2024-25.24 Table 1.2 below outlines the estimated savings for each schedule of the bill.

Measu

re Financial impact over the forward estimates

(DSS administered savings only)

Schedule 1 - Social security amendments Savings of $64.9 million

Schedule 2 - Family assistance amendments Savings of $515.5 million

Schedule 3 - Paid parental leave amendments Savings of $71.9 million

Source: EM, p. 5.

1.30 It is estimated that approximately 45 000 families will be impacted by the changes to the Family Tax Benefit and 13 200 individuals affected by the changes to the other payments.25

Legislative scrutiny 1.31 The Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills made no comment on the bill.26

1.32 The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (human rights committee) noted that measures contained within the bill engages and limits the rights to social security, adequate standard of living, health, maternity leave, and equality and non-discrimination.27

1.33 The human rights committee notes any limitation on the above rights must ‘pursue a legitimate objective’ and acknowledges that the objective of the bill - to ensure the financial sustainability of the welfare system - ‘may be capable of a constituting a legitimate objective. However, that the objective of reinforcing self-reliance for new migrants is unlikely to constitute a legitimate objective.28

24 EM, p. 5.

25 Mr Troy Sloan, Group Manager, Pensions, Housing and Homelessness, Department of Social

Services, Community Affairs Legislation Committee, Budget Estimates 2021-22, Committee Hansard, 3 June 2021, p. 107.

26 Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, Scrutiny Digest 10 of 2021, 13 July 2021, p. 17.

27 Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Report 10 of 2021, August 2021, pp. 18, 19, 22, 29.

28 Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Report 10 of 2021, August 2021, p. 25.

Table 1.2 Financial impact of the bill

7

1.34 The human rights committee raised concerns that the increased waiting periods could restrict access to paid maternity leave and ‘may ultimately exacerbate inequalities experienced by women subject to the waiting period’.29

1.35 At the time of tabling this report, the human rights committee had yet to reach a concluded view on the bill and sought further information from the Minister regarding the following matters:

 how the measure promotes general welfare for the purpose of constituting a legitimate objective;  the number of individuals subject to a NARWP, the number of individuals who applied for an exemption, and the number of exemptions granted or

denied;  the assistance provided to migrants in navigating the exemption process;  the review and oversight mechanisms for denied exemption applications;  how the measure is the least rights restrictive approach; and  the consideration of alternative measures.30

Conduct of the inquiry 1.36 The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on 24 June 2021.31 Pursuant to the adoption of the Selection of Bills report on the same day, the provisions of the bill were referred to the Community Affairs Legislation

Committee (committee) for inquiry and report by 14 September 2021.32 The committee subsequently sought an extension of time to report on 27 September 2021.33

1.37 The committee wrote to relevant stakeholders inviting them to make a submission to the inquiry by 26 July 2021. Submissions continued to be accepted after that date.

1.38 The committee received 25 public submissions and held a public hearing in Canberra, on 13 September 2021. Submitters and witnesses are listed in Appendix 1.

1.39 The committee thanks the individuals and organisations that made submissions and gave evidence at the public hearing.

Note on references 1.40 References to the Committee Hansard are to the proof Hansard. Page numbers may vary between the proof and official Hansard transcripts.

29 Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Report 10 of 2021, August 2021, p. 28

30 Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Report 10 of 2021, August 2021, p. 29.

31 House of Representatives, Votes and proceedings, No. 129, 24 June 2021, p. 2072.

32 Journals of the Senate [Proof], No. 106, 24 June 2021, pp. 3756-3758.

33 Journals of the Senate [Proof], No. 112, 11 August 2021, p. 3907.

9

Chapter 2 Key issues

2.1 This chapter examines the key issues raised during the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee’s (committee) inquiry into provisions of the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021 (bill).

2.2 The key issues raised by submitters and witnesses included:

 the policy principles of the bill and newly arrived resident’s waiting period (NARWP);  the potential impacts of the proposed changes on migrants and their families;  the time migrants spend in Australia on temporary visas; and  the exemption provisions to the NARWP.

Policy principles 2.3 The proposed changes in the bill reflect two policy principles relating to the NARWP; consistency across social security payments and the expectation of financial self-sufficiency for newly arrived migrants.

2.4 The current NARWP varies from one to four years depending on the payment. According to the bill’s explanatory materials, the proposed changes align the NARWP across social security payments and make the system simpler and easier for newly arrived migrants to understand.1

2.5 The NARWP is designed to reflect the ‘reasonable expectation’ that skilled and family migrants who chose to permanently settle in Australia will be financially self-sufficient and the proposed changes in the bill further entrench this expectation.

2.6 The NARWP is also indicative of broader principles of Australia’s social security system which is based on residency and need.

2.7 The committee received an array of opinions on these principles.

1 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021,

Explanatory Memorandum (EM), p. 1; Social Services Legislation Amendment

(Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021, Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights, pp. 12-13.

10

2.8 Some submitters argued that there is no evidence to support the claim that newly arrived migrants find the current system complex and difficult to navigate and that while it may be reasonable to expect a degree of self-sufficiency, an increase to a four-year NARWP is unreasonable.2 The committee heard that migrants arrive in Australia with the intention to be self-sufficient and support their families and that the welfare system should be available to these migrants when unexpected circumstances arise.3

2.9 For example, Ms Sandra Elhelw-Wright, Chief Executive Officer, Settlement Council of Australia (SCA), stated that:

I think when people make the decision to migrate to Australia it's not necessarily that they're thinking that they will need a safety net in that first four years. I think most people come to Australia expecting that they will be independent and self-sufficient and, in fact, are for a long period of time, because a lot of people come through on a temporary migration pathway anyway. But I think it's more the messaging that underlines that around if something were to happen to you, if something were to go wrong, you would be alone—remembering that a lot of people come to Australia leaving family and social networks behind and other safety nets that they might've had in place. It's not necessarily that they're anticipating using income support in that four years, but that they're highly aware of their vulnerability if something doesn't go to plan.4

2.10 Others agreed with the proposition that a consistent NARWP is an improvement to the current system and will be easier for migrants to understand, and that is reasonable to expect those on the skilled and family visa streams to be self-sufficient upon arrival in Australia.5

2 See for example: Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS), Submission 1, p. 1;

Carers NSW, Submission 3, p. 2; St Vincent de Paul Society, Submission 6, pp. 1-3; Carers Australia, Submission 9, p. 4; Social Security Rights Victoria (SSRV), Submission 20, pp. 9 and 14; Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC), Submission 19, pp. 2-3.

3 See for example: Ms Sandra Elhelw-Wright, Chief Executive Officer, Settlement Council of

Australia (SCA), Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, pp. 3-4; Ms Carla Wilshire, Chief Executive Officer, Migration Council of Australia (MCA), Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 4; Ms Jana Favero, Director, Advocacy and Campaigns,

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 5; Mr Mohammad Al-Khafaji, Chief Executive Officer, Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA), Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 18; Ms Liz Callaghan, Chief Executive Officer, Carers Australia, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 21.

4 Ms Elhelw-Wright, SCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, pp. 3-4

5 See for example: National Council of Women Australia (NCWA), Submission 4, p. 2;

Department of Social Services (DSS), Submission 17, p. 1; Name withheld, Submission 24, p. 4; Ms Alexi Boyd, Chief Executive Officer, Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, pp. 9-10.

11

2.11 Other issues raised by submitters and witnesses relating to the underlying principles of the bill and Australia's social security system, including the potential impacts on migrants, the time migrants spend in Australia on temporary visas and the exemption provisions. These issues are discussed below.

Impact on migrants 2.12 The majority of evidence received by the committee from submitters and witnesses focussed on the potential impact of the proposed changes in the bill on newly arrived migrants, particularly on employment outcomes for newly

arrived migrants and the disproportionate impact on women and child migrants.6

Employment outcomes 2.13 Skills mismatch occurs when an individual is employed in a position that is below their skill and qualification level. Several submitters and witnesses raised concerns that the NARWP could lead to skills mismatch in migrants.7

2.14 Submitters argued that due to the lack of government support in the first few years of settlement migrants will often take the first job available to them regardless of whether the job matches their skills and qualifications. 8

2.15 The Migration Council of Australia (MCA) noted that nearly one quarter of permanent skilled migrants in Australia are working in a job that is below their skill level.9

6 See for example: QCOSS, Submission 1; MCA, Submission 2;

Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), Submission 5; St Vincent de Paul Society, Submission 6; Law Council of Australia, Submission 21; Brotherhood of St Laurence, Submission 22; VMC, Submission 19. See also for example: Ms Elhelw-Wright, SCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, pp. 5 and 7; Ms Rana Ebrahimi, National Manager, Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN), Committee Hansard, 13 September 20210, p. 14; Ms Linda Forbes, Law Reform, Policy and Communications Officer, Economic Justice Australia (EJA), Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 15; Ms Lauren Stark, Senior Policy and Project Officer, FECCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 19; Ms Claerwen Little, National Director, UnitingCare Australia (UCA), Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 21; Ms Corrine Dobson, Senior Analyst, UCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 24; Ms Deb Tsorbaris, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (CECFW), Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 28.

7 See for example: QCOSS, Submission 1, p. 2; MCA, Submission 2, p. 4; Per Capita Australia,

Submission 7, p. 7; Settlement Services International (SSI), Submission 8, p. 2; SCA, Submission 16, p. 2.

8 See for example: QCOSS, Submission 1, p. 2; MCA, Submission 2, p. 4; Per Capita Australia,

Submission 7, p. 7; SSI, Submission 8, p. 2; Economic Justice Australia (EJA), Submission 11, p. 2; SCA, Submission 16, p. 2.

9 MCA, Submission 2, p. 4.

12

2.16 The MCA and the SCA further stated that the estimated cost to the economy as a result of skills mismatch among new migrants is approximately $1.25 billion.10

2.17 Other submitters noted that a lack of government support is an impediment to migrants finding employment and that newly arrived migrants face several barriers which lead to adverse employment outcomes, including skills mismatch. Such factors include structural barriers, varying levels of language skills, non-recognition of overseas qualifications or experience gained overseas, lack of knowledge of employment safeguards and a lack of networks with employers.11

2.18 Submitters and witnesses further raised concerns that the increase to the NARWP could act as a disincentive for skilled workers migrating to Australia.12

2.19 For example, Rachel Reilly, Manager, Social Policy and Advocacy, Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), noted the diversity within the Australian community and social work profession and argued that Australia ‘must have policies that attract diversity rather than deter it’.13 She also highlighted that 36 per cent of all students enrolled in social work courses during 2020 were international students and that the care workforce is ‘delivered largely from migrant populations’.14

2.20 Ms Alexi Boyd, Chief Executive Officer, Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, commented on the complexity of the NARWP for both new migrants and small business owners and stated that:

10 Ms Rikke Andersen, Policy Officer, MCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 1;

Ms Elhelw-Wright, SCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 2.

11 See for example: EJA, Submission 11, p. 2; CECFW, Submission 15, pp. 1-2; ASRC, Submission 18,

p. 2; Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH), Submission 25, p. 5.

12 See for example: MCA, Submission 2, p. 3; DFFH, Submission 25, p. 4; Mr Al-Khafaji, Chief FECCA,

Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 13; Ms Stark, FECCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 18; Ms Tsorbaris, CECFW, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 32.

13 Rachel Reilly, Manager Social Policy and Advocacy, AASW, Committee Hansard,

13 September 2021, p. 27.

14 Rachel Reilly, AASW, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 28.

13

… I c

an tell you that what the small business community values the most is migrants and skilled and unskilled workers coming into the country who want to remain and who see themselves as having a long-term future in Australia and having the ability to remain beyond the length of their visa…I think this is an opportunity to examine migration issues and I just want to highlight how complex and difficult it is for small businesses to meet all the requirements of the acts to make sure they can hire a migrant worker. It is very onerous, it's expensive and it's complex.15

2.21 A number of witnesses expressed similar views, noting that skilled migrants may chose to settle in other countries, such as Canada, that do not have waiting periods to access social security payments.16

2.22 In response to this concern, the Department of Social Services (DSS) noted that ‘there are a range of factors that lead to somebody applying for residency in this country’ and that the proposed changes in the bill, and waiting periods generally, are not expected to affect the number of skilled migrants who seek to settle permanently in Australia.17

Women and children 2.23 The committee heard that the payments affected by the bill, including Parental Leave Pay, Carer Payment and Carer Allowance, and Family Tax Benefit, are viewed as targeting those who provide care.18 Additionally, that the proposed

changes could disproportionately affect migrant women as they are the primary cohort which receives these social security payments.19

2.24 This concern was raised specifically in regards to the increase in the NARWP for Family Tax Benefit Part A, the introduction of a four year NARWP for Family Tax Benefit Part B and the changes to Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay.20

15 Ms Alexi Boyd, Chief Executive Officer, COSBOA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 11.

16 Ms Elhelw-Wright, SCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 2; Mr Al-Khafaji, FECCA,

Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 13; Ms Tsorbaris, CECFW, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 32; Rachel Reilly, AASW, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 32.

17 Mr Matt Flavel, Deputy Secretary, Social Security, DSS, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021,

p. 39; DSS, answers to questions on notice, 3 June 2021 (received 3 September 2021).

18 Ms Stark, FECCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 19; Dr Gayatri Ramnath,

Principal Advisor, Research and Advice, QCOSS, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 26.

19 See for example: St Vincent de Paul Society, Submission 6, p. 2; Per Capita Australia, Submission 7,

p.

4; UCA, Submission 10, pp. 4-5; EJA, Submission 11, p. 5; MYAN, Submission 12, p. 3; A

ustralian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Submission 13, p. 3; Tasmania Council of Social S

ervice (TasCOSS), Submission 14, p. 1; SCA, Submission 16, p. 3; ASRC, Submission 18, p. 2; FECCA, Submission 23, p. 3; Brotherhood of St Laurence, Submission 22, pp. 3-4; SSRV, Submission 20, p. 14; DF

FH, Submission 25, pp. 6-8.

20 See for example: Ms Elhelw-Wright, SCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 5; Ms Favero,

ASRC, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, pp. 2-3; Ms Wilshire, MCA, Committee Hansard,

14

2.25 Submitters and witnesses stated that the Family Tax Benefit provides an important safety net that assists low income families with the costs of childcare and that that the increased waiting periods for these payments could lead to children experiencing poverty.21

2.26 For example, Ms Corinne Dobson, Senior Analyst, UnitingCare Australia (UCA), stated that:

Those family tax benefits are a really important part of our social security system that is about supporting families raising children and ensuring children can grow up in households where they can have their basic needs met, can participate in society and are not living in desperate poverty. The removal of those payments is going to result in many of those families facing huge difficulties in meeting everyday bills, being in financial distress, and supporting their children to participate in educational activities and other community activities, placing them in housing stress and potentially homelessness.22

2.27 Submitters and witnesses also commented on how the proposed changes will affect family planning decisions among migrants as the bill would increase the NARWP to four years for Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay.23

2.28 For example, the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA) noted that many migrants work for small businesses that do not have the means to pay maternity leave and as a result migrants could have to make decisions about family planning based on their eligibility for government funded parental leave.24

2.29 Ms Elhelw-Wright, SCA, also stated that the proposed changes will have several effects, including on family planning decisions, population growth, and the impact of women’s participation in the workforce.25

13 September 2021, p. 7; Ms Ebrahimi, MYAN, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 15; Ms Forbes, EJA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 16; Ms Little, UCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, pp. 21 and 25; Dr Ramnath, QCOSS, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, pp. 26-27.

21 See for example: MCA, Submission 2, p. 4; Ms Elhelw-Wright, SCA, Committee Hansard,

13 September 2021, p. 5; UCA, Submission 10, pp. 2-3; ASRC, Submission 18, pp. 1-2; TasCOSS, Submission 14, p. 1; Brotherhood of St Laurence, Submission 22, p. 2; Ms Wilshire, MCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 7; Ms Ebrahimi, MYAN, Committee Hansard, p. 14; Ms Forbes, EJA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 15; Ms Little, UCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 20.

22 Ms Corinne Dobson, Senior Analyst, UCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 24.

23 See for example: Name withheld, Submission 24, AASW, Submission 5, pp. 4-5; FECCA,

Submission 23, p. 3 Ms Elhelw-Wright, SCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 7; Ms Favero, ASRC, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 7.

24 FECCA, Submission 23, p. 3.

25 Ms Elhelw-Wright, SCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 7.

15

2.30 Similarly, Ms Jana Favero, Director Advocacy and Campaigns, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, expanded on this point and stated that:

There is a reason paid parental leave was introduced federally as a provision for women—because of all of those barriers around workforce participation, around decisions about how long women may have been on leave or how women try to return to the workforce after having a baby. They're all what would be applied here.26

2.31 Other witnesses also discussed the critical nature of the first few weeks and months of a child’s life and how the rights of families are impacted by the extension of the NARWP for Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay.27

2.32 The AASW provided an example of a migrant impacted by the ineligibility to receive Parental Leave Pay:

I came to Australia as a PhD student in 2016 with my family and we have been dedicated people, working hard and paying taxes to government. Nine months ago when I decided to have my child, I was informed that I am not eligible to access any benefits, including paid parental leave from government, because despite the five years I have spent in Australia, policy-wise, I am regarded as newly arrived migrant because I was only granted permanent residency a year ago. Without access to any parental leave, I have been forced to take my baby of only 12 weeks old to day care because I cannot be afforded at least the 18 weeks other women are given to stay home and care for their babies. If a fair and non-discriminatory system was in place, the five-year period I have been in Australia before attaining permanent residence would have been put into consideration for me to be eligible for parental leave. For me, like many other women who have to make heart-breaking decisions of prematurely leaving their babies to go back to work, waiting period and residence requirements are simply a punishment.28

2.33 In contrast, the National Council of Women Australia submitted that:

Migrant families will continue to have immediate access to childcare subsidies when they are working or studying or undertaking approved activities. Some family payments will continue without a waiting period including stillborn baby payment. Low income families will still be able to access concessional benefits under Medicare, the PBS and access to the low income healthcare card.29

26 Ms Favero, ASRC, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 7.

27 Ms Wilshire, MCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 7; Ms Little, UCA,

Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 25.

28 AASW, Submission 5, p. 5.

29 NCWA, Submission 4, p. 1.

16

2.34 DSS further explained that as the proposed changes are a prospective measure, only applying to those granted permanent residency on or after 1 January 2022, potential migrants to Australia will be well aware of the new requirements and that it is difficult to see a direct link between the proposed changes that apply in the future and the potential risks outlined by witnesses for migrants currently in Australia who have a different NARWP requirement.30

Previous time in Australia 2.35 Inquiry participants commented that the bill (and the NARWP) does not consider the time migrants spend in Australia on temporary visas prior to being granted permanent residency.31 These submitters and witnesses stated

that the term ‘newly arrived’ migrants may not be appropriate given the number of years migrants spend in Australia on temporary visas.32

2.36 This concern relates to the core principles of Australia’s social security system which is based on residency and need. Only Australian permanent residents and citizens and special category visa holders are eligible to access social security payments and income support.33

2.37 According to the bill’s explanatory materials, implementing a NARWP encourages migrants to be financially self-sufficient when they first permanently settle in Australia. Self-sufficiency is viewed as a ‘reasonable’ requirement for migrants who chose to settle permanently in Australia as ‘most other permanent skilled or family migrants - those who have come to Australia to work or be with family - are well placed to be self-reliant during their four-year waiting period’ and it ensures the long-term sustainability of Australia’s social security system. 34

30 Mr Flavel, DSS, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 37.

31 See, for example, MCA, Submission 2, p. 4; St Vincent de Paul Society, Submission 6, p. 3;

SSI, Submission 8, p. 3; UCA, Submission 10, p. 6; ACOSS, Submission 8, p. 5; TasCOSS, Submission 14, p. 2; CECFW Submission 15, p. 2; SCA, Submission 16, p. 1; FECCA, Submission 23, pp. 2-3; ASRC, Submission 18, p. 2; Law Council of Australia, Submission 21, pp. 21-22; Brotherhood of St Laurence, Submission 22, p. 3; SSRV, Submission 20, p. 11. See also: Ms Andersen, MCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 1; Ms Favero, ASRC,

Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 3; Ms Stark, FECCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 18.

32 SCA, Submission 16, p. 1.

33 EM p. 1; DSS, Social Security Payments - Residence Criteria, 30 June 2021,

https://www.dss.gov.au/about-the-department/international/policy/social-security-payments-residence-criteria (accessed 9 September 2021).

34 EM, p. 1; Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants)

Bill 2021, Second Reading Speech, p. 4; Social Services Legislation Amendment

(Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021, Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights, p. 12.

17

2.38 However, concerns were raised about the length of time it takes for migrants to receive permanent residency.35

2.39 For example, the Australian Council of Social Service stated that:

Many migrants have lived and worked here for years before obtaining permanent residency. Waiting times for the processing of permanent visas are 12 months to two years or more. This means that people often live and work in Australia for several years before they get permanent residency, from which point onwards the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting period starts. For some, this Bill could mean it would be almost a decade before they could access any kind of income support.36

2.40 Similarly, the SCA, submitted that:

… those who are subject to these changes are not necessarily ‘newly arrived’. A significant proportion of Australia’s permanent residents take a temporary visa pathway, meaning they have often already resided in Australia and paid tax for several years. After doing so, and then becoming a permanent resident, these migrants will then be subject to a further four-year waiting period.37

2.41 Additionally, it was highlighted that during the temporary period many migrants will be contributing to the economic and social life of their communities, including paying taxes, and enforcing waiting periods can lead to disruptions in social cohesion as the system is based on ‘arbitrary’ waiting periods rather than individual need.38

2.42 The Tasmanian Council of Social Service described the NARWP as ‘distinctly unfair’ as it denies migrants access to ‘the basic supports provided to other Australians’ after they have already spent years contributing to the social and economic life of the nation.39

2.43 The St Vincent de Paul Society echoed these concerns, submitting that the proposed changes treat ‘new migrants differently to other Australians who qualify for income support payments’.40

35 See, for example, SCA, Submission 16, p. 4; FECCA, Submission 23, p. 4; Brotherhood of St Laurence,

Submission 22, p. 2; DFFH, Submission 25, p. 10; ACOSS, Submission 13, p. 5; SCA, Submission 16, p. 1; Ms Favero, ASRC, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 3; Mr Al-Khafaji, FECCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 13; Dr Ramnath, QCOSS, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 27.

36 ACOSS, Submission 13, p. 5.

37 SCA, Submission 16, p. 1.

38 SSI, Submission 8, pp. 2-3.

39 TasCOSS Submission 14, p. 2.

40 St Vincent de Paul Society, Submission 6, p. 3.

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2.44 In response to these concerns, submitters and witnesses recommended that any waiting period requirement should take into consideration the time migrants spend in Australia on temporary visas.41

2.45 DSS explained that there was a distinct policy rationale for not including the time migrants spend on temporary visas towards the NARWP. DSS noted that some migrants who arrive in Australia on a temporary visa, such as a skilled visa, may not necessarily be seeking permanent residency in Australia.42

2.46 DDS also noted that the time a migrant spends in Australia on a temporary visa counts towards the NARWP in the following circumstances:

 Temporary partner visas (subclasses 309 and 820) for the Special Benefit, Parental Leave Pay, Dad and Partner Pay, Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B the Low Income Health Care Card; and

 New Zealand citizens on a Special Category Visa (subclass 444) for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and the Low Income Health Card.43

2.47

It was further explained that ‘[d]ata on the total number people for whom time on the above temporary visas counts towards the NARWP is not available, as the period of NARWP will only be determined if a claim for payment is made’.44

Exemption provisions 2.48 Submitters and witnesses acknowledged that the bill maintains existing exemptions that act as an important safeguard for migrants who experience a change of circumstance or hardship; however, several concerns were raised

regarding the accessibility and adequacy of the exemption provisions.45

41 AASW, Submission 5, pp. 4-5; SSI, Submission 8, pp. 2-3; Name withheld, Submission 24, p. 2;

Law Council of Australia, Submission 21, pp. 23-24.

42 Mr Andrew Seebach, Branch Manager, Pensions, Housing and Homelessness Group, DSS,

Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 38.

43 DSS, answers to questions on notice, 3 June 2021, (received 3 September 2021).

44 DSS, answers to questions on notice, 3 June 2021, (received 3 September 2021).

45 See, for example, NCWA, Submission 4, pp. 1-2; Carers Australia, Submission 9, p. 4; UCA,

Submission 10, p. 5; MYAN Submission 12, p. 3; FECCA, Submission 23, pp. 4-5; DFFH, Submission 25, p. 8; Ms Elhelw-Wright, SCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 6; Ms Ebrahimi, MYAN, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 15; Ms Forbes, EJA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 16; Ms Callaghan, Carers Australia, Committee Hansard,

13 September 2021, p. 23.

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Accessibility of exemptions 2.49 Several submitters and witnesses raised concerns that the current exemptions in the relevant Acts are limited in scope, difficult to obtain and have onerous requirements on migrants seeking support.46

2.50 There are two broad categories of exemptions within the current social security system. First, if a person becomes a single parent they are eligible for other payments such as JobSeeker and Youth Allowance and may be exempt from the NARWP for the Carer Allowance, Family Tax Benefit and Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay. Second, if a person ‘suffers an uncontrollable change of circumstances’ and they qualify for the Special Benefit payment, then the NARWP will not apply to the Carer Allowance, Family Tax Benefit and Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay.47

2.51 The Law Council of Australia (LCA) highlighted that according to these rules, that persons subject to a NARWP are required to meet the criteria of two social security payments, which is an additional requirement for migrants.48

2.52 The LCA further commented on the inconsistency of the exemptions, noting that the Carer Payment is not subject to an exemption from the NARWP due to a person becoming a lone parent or suffering from a change of circumstances - even if they are receiving another social security payment. They submitted:

It is not clear why all of the family and carer related payments affected by this Bill are not subject to their own stand-alone exemptions from NARWP which apply when, due to circumstances outside of their control, a person is no longer reasonably able to be self-sufficient.49

2.53 Additionally, Social Security Rights Victoria (SSRV) discussed that the Social Security Guide, which provides information for decision makers on what factors warrant granting an exemption, does not give adequate guidance and could lead to excluding vulnerable people from receiving support payments.50

2.54 Moreover, submitters and witnesses were particularly concerned about the accessibility of support for newly arrived migrants who are the victims of domestic and family violence. Considerable attention was given to the

46 UCA, Submission 10, p. 5; MYAN Submission 12, p. 3; SSRV Submission 20, p. 3; Law Council of

Australia, Submission 21, pp. 17-18; Ms Forbes, EJA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 16; Dr Ramnath, QCOSS, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 33; Rachel Reilly, AASW, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 33; Ms Tsorbaris, CECFW, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 34.

47 EM, p. 4; SSRV Submission 20, p. 9; Law Council of Australia, Submission 21, pp. 17-18.

48 Law Council of Australia, Submission 21, p. 18.

49 Law Council of Australia, Submission 21, pp. 18-19.

50 SSRV, Submission 20, p. 11.

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inconsistent application of exemptions and that the requirements for victims in cases of family and domestic violence to apply for exemptions are contrary to best practice.51

2.55 The Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing submitted that:

…migrant women wanting to leave a violent relationship are likely to face multiple barriers to obtaining support due to a number of intersecting factors, including but not limited to, language barriers, limited understanding of Australia’s legal and social security setting, cultural expectations and lack of economic autonomy. The requirement to produce evidence of change in circumstances for women who have experienced violence prior to the start of the waiting period, result in these victim-survivors being ineligible for the exemption, despite experiencing family violence. The proposed amendments will make it more difficult for women to leave such circumstances and not return.52

2.56 UCA highlighted that new residents who arrive on a family visa are often highly dependent on their sponsors, which can lead to an increased risk of abuse and neglect. UCA further noted that the limited access to the Special Benefit payment ‘does not alleviate these concerns’ given the applicant ‘must demonstrate they have made every effort to get adequate support from their sponsor before being granted Special Benefit’.53

2.57 Similarly, SSRV submitted that the application criteria for the Special Benefit payment requires victim-survivors to:

 disclose the family or domestic violence they are experiencing;  be safe to disclose the family or domestic violence to Centrelink without an abusive partner or family member knowing; and  be able to receive the payment, in the sense that they are able to have a

b

ank account separate from that of an abusive partner or family member.54

2.58 SSRV and other submitters noted that many victim-survivors of family and domestic violence, particularly from migrant backgrounds, are unable to fulfil these requirements due to structural barriers.55

51 See, for example: St Vincent de Paul Society, Submission 6, p. 2; Per Capita Australia, Submission 7,

p.

4; UCA, Submission 10, pp. 4-5; EJA, Submission 11, p. 5; SCA, Submission 16, p. 3; Brotherhood of St Laurence, Submission 22, pp. 3-4; SSRV, Submission 20, p. 14; DFFH, Submission 25, pp. 6-8; Ms E

lhelw-Wright, SCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 6; Ms Forbes, EJA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 15; Ms Anna Matina, Group Manager, Community Development Uniting Victoria-Tasmania, UCA, Committee Hansard, pp. 24-25.

52 DFFH, Submission 25, pp. 7-8.

53 UCA, Submission 10, pp. 4-5.

54 SSRV, Submission 20, p. 12.

55 See for example: SSRV, Submission 20, p. 12; DFFH, Submission 25, pp. 7-8.

21

2.59 In response to the specific concerns regarding the Special Benefit payment and exemptions from the NARWP available to victims of family and domestic violence, DSS stated that the ‘Australian government acknowledges the rates of violence against women and children remains unacceptably high and is committed to ending family and domestic violence’.56

2.60 DSS stated that there is a broad range of services available to assist women and children who have experienced family and domestic violence, including access to the Special Benefit payment. DSS reiterated that once a person becomes eligible for Special Benefit, they are automatically exempt from the NARWP for Family Tax Benefit and Carer Allowance, they may be eligible to receive a Crisis Payment, and they are referred to a Services Australia social worker for additional support.57

Adequacy of exemptions 2.61 Many submitters and witnesses commented on the current payment rates and stated the payments provide insufficient support to those newly arrived migrants who are experiencing financial hardship and increases the risk of

migrants falling into poverty.58

2.62 In discussing the requirements to receive an exemption and the rates of support payments, UCA submitted that:

Ultimately, people’s circumstances should not have to degenerate to a situation of severe hardship and destitution before they qualify for a payment. It is cruel and futile to wait until a person’s deterioration in health or material circumstances is severe enough to be deemed substantial. Yet even if people are experiencing such hardship, this Bill does not guarantee they will be able to access financial support, nor is the level of support provided under the proposed exemptions sufficient to lift them out of a state of destitution.59

56 Mr Flavel, DSS, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 36.

57 Mr Flavel, DSS, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 36.

58 See, for example: ASRC, Submission 18, pp. 1-2; ACOSS, Submission 13, p. 4; Brotherhood of St

Laurence, Submission 22, p. 2; UCA, Submission 10, p. 1; EJA, Submission 11, p. 3; Ms Elhelw-Wright, SCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 2; Ms Favero, ASRC, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 2; Ms Ebrahimi, MYAN, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 14;

Ms Little, UCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 20; Ms Tsorbaris, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 28.

59 UCA, Submission 10, p. 6.

2.63 The committee also received comments regarding recommendations to increase the breadth of exemptions to individuals from refugee-like backgrounds and to carers.60

60 MYAN, Submission 12, p. 2; FECCA, Submission 23, p. 5; Law Council of Australia, Submission 21,

p. 6; UCA, Submission 10, p. 5; Carers Australia, Submission 9, p. 3; Carers NSW Submission 3, pp. 2-3; EJA, Submission 11, p. 4; DFFH, Submission 25, pp. 8-9.

22

Refugee-like backgrounds 2.64 The Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) and FECCA raised particular concerns regarding young migrants from refugee-like backgrounds. MYAN noted that many young migrants will arrive in Australia through the

family stream of the migration program to reunite with family members who have arrived on humanitarian visas.61

2.65 MYAN explained that this cohort of young migrants is particularly vulnerable as their families may not be in a position to support them. Furthermore, they arrive in Australia from the same country of origin as those arrivals through the humanitarian stream of the migration program and may have experienced the same levels of trauma as humanitarian entrants.62

2.66 MYAN recommended that this group of migrants be exempt from the NARWP.63

Carers 2.67 Several submitters and witnesses argued in favour of exempting the Carer Payment and Carer Allowance from the NARWP.64

2.68 EJA stated when the NARWP was extended to four years for other payments, the NARWP for Carer Payment and Carer Allowance remained at two years and one year respectively. EJA submitted that ‘the rationale for this exemption remains a compelling one’ and that a four year NARWP for these payments will ‘mean that fewer Australian families will be able to provide high-level care in the home for loved ones’.65

2.69 Submitters highlighted that becoming a carer is often an unexpected event. For example, Carers Australia stated that:

Anyone can become a carer at any time. Migrants seeking to make Australia their home are not anticipating that this will happen to them. It may come about as a result of a serious accident to a family member or the

61 MYAN, Submission 12, p. 2; FECCA, Submission 23 , p. 5.

62 MYAN, Submission 12, p. 2.

63 MYAN, Submission 12, p. 3.

64 Carers Australia, Submission 9, p. 3; EJA, Submission 11 , p. 4; UCA, Committee Han sard,

13 September 2021, p. 24; Carers Australia, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 24.

65

EJA, Submission 11, p. 4.

66

Carers Australia, Submission 9, p. 3.

diagnosis of a serious illness; possibly affecting the major income earner of the family. It may occur through the birth of a child with a disability. In many cases it may result in the loss of the carer’s own employment due to providing increasing or constant care. At the same time, it will involve the necessity to meet a range of additional costs, including medical costs.66

23

2.70 Submitters and witnesses discussed that migrants who unexpectedly become carers while serving the NARWP may be subject to further financial hardship as they may be unable to engage in full time employment due to caring responsibilities. While it was noted that these migrants may be able to access other support mechanisms, such mechanisms do not provide financial or income support.67

2.71 These submitters recommended that the Carer Payment and Carer Allowance be exempt from the NARWP.68

Committee view 2.72 The NARWP has been a requirement of Australia’s social security system since 1993. The proposed changes in the bill apply to a small number of payments and align the NARWP for these payments with other social security payments

and income supports.

2.73 The committee supports the proposed extension of the NARWP to four years across the relevant social security payments. This proposed extension of the NARWP will standardise the waiting periods across the relevant social security payments, making it simpler and easier for new migrants to understand.

2.74 The committee acknowledges the concerns raised by submitters and witnesses and notes that there are a broad range of exemptions available to newly arrived migrants should they experience a change of circumstance or hardship.

2.75 The exemptions within the social security system for newly arrived migrants ensures that should a person find themselves in the unfortunate position of experiencing a significant change in circumstance beyond their control that they are able to receive an appropriate level of support.

67 Carers NSW, Submission 3, p. 3; Carers Australia, Submission 9, p. 3; EJA, Submission 11, p. 4; UCA,

Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 24; Ms Callaghan, Carers Australia, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 24; Ms Sue Elderton, Director Policy, Carers Australia, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, pp. 23-24.

68 Carers Australia, Submission 9, p. 5; UCA, Submission 10, p. 3; ACOSS, Submission 13, p. 1;

Carers NSW, Submission 3, p. 3;

Recommendation 1

2.76 The committee recommends that the bill be passed.

Senator Wendy Askew Chair

25

Dissenting Report from Labor Senators

Introduction 1.1 The introduction of the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021 in the 2021-22 Budget proposes implementing four-year waiting periods across payments for temporary

migrants. The proposed amendments are centred on a rationale of cost-saving measures and an intent to create consistency across social payments available to migrants.

1.2 The Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period (NARWP) would be increased to four years and would apply to the following payments and concession cards:

 Carer Payment;  Carer Allowance;  Parental Leave Pay;  Dad and Partner Pay;  Family Tax Benefit - Part A and Part B;  the Low Income Health Care Card; and  the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

1.3 The changes outlined are intended to come into effect on 1 January 2022. In 2024-25, it is estimated that 45 000 families will be affected for Family Tax Benefit, and 13 200 individuals will be affected for other payments.

1.4 Labor Senators are concerned with the policy consequences of this amendment. With critical stakeholders left out of the equation, the policy formulation by the government fails to properly consider the ramifications of the amendments, along with the harm applied to at-risk groups like migrant women and children.

1.5 Australia has a longstanding history of migration and multiculturalism. Migrants have pursued the dream of building a new life in Australia and have enriched their wider communities as a whole. As such, migration to Australia occurs due to the desire to build a new life and be self-sufficient and is not informed by the desire to access these social support payments. Access to social assistance payments is often temporary and arises due to unforeseen circumstance, like the general population. Thus, the extension on waiting periods removes access to support in times of critical need.

1.6 More specifically, Labor Senators are concerned with how the bill unfairly discriminates against people who are long-time residents on a pathway to citizenship by creating a two-tier system. Under the proposed changes of the bill a permanent resident would not be able to access Parental Leave Pay, even if their partner and child are Australian citizens. More specifically, the

26

integration undermine the efforts of new migrants in settling into their broader community safely and sustainably.

1.7 Ms Linda Forbes, Law Reform, Policy and Communications Officer from Economic Justice Australia raised this issue:

Family tax benefit targeting has aimed to ensure that no child living in Australia lives in poverty. Applying a residential waiting period of four years for family tax benefit means that the children of migrant parents on low incomes will live in poverty.1

1.8 Ms Forbes also noted how the proposed changes could mean children attending the same school, who will both grow up to be Australian citizens could have access to very different support:

Introducing a four-year residential waiting period for family tax benefit means that children born in Australia to new residents may be eight or nine years of age before they attract family tax benefit.2

1.9 The proposed changes would have devastating impacts for women and children, pushing them into poverty and destitution. The amendment cuts access to critical support- which disproportionately affects migrant women and children. Labor Senators note that while children are not in a position to make decisions about migrations, they appear to be the direct target of this policy.

1.10 In addition to this, Ms Deb Tsorbaris, Chief Executive Officer, from the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare emphasised the risk of the Amendment leading to growing pressure placed on child protection systems, along with emergency relief and housing across the country:

An increase in stress on families may result in higher notifications to child protection systems across this country, and child protection in Victoria is already under severe pressure, with the number of notifications increasing.3

1.11 Furthermore, Labor Senators note the likelihood of this bill adding to the rates of exploitative work taken up by temporary migrants. New migrants already face an array of barriers when it comes to competing in the labour market. Given these conditions, they are far more likely to be exploited in the labour market.

1 Ms Linda Forbes, Law Reform, Policy and Communications, Economic Justice Australia,

Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 15.

2 Ms Forbes, Economic Justice Australia, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 15.

3 Ms Deb Tsorbaris, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare,

Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 29.

27

1.12 Ms Rachel Reilly, Manager, Social Policy and Advocacy, from the Australian Association of Social Workers highlighted this issue, stating that:

The more insecure the job market is, the more likely they are to experience exploitation. If you have migrant workers here that already face barriers to gaining employment because of language barriers—and we know from what's happened in the pandemic that there is a lot of job insecurity—then they could be going into forms of employment that for various different reasons could equate to serious forms of labour exploitation.4

1.13 Thus, given the plethora of barriers faced by migrants, the potential for exploitation in the labour market is also underpinned by the unequal power dynamic between employer and employee. Specifically, most migrants will accept poor working environments that place them in harm's way due to the fear of losing their visa status, along with the need to support their family.

Inadequacies of Special Exemptions 1.14 The bill does not amend the current exemptions to the NARWP. The exemptions of the bill act as an important safeguard for migrants who experience hardship, however, Labor Senators note with concern the over-

reliance on this measure by the government. Specifically, the special exemptions should not be an appropriate fall-back, as too many barriers and stigma are associated with accessing the existing exemptions. Adding to this, the existing exemptions of the bill are limited in scope and accessibility.

1.15 Ms Claerwen Little, National Director of UnitingCare Australia pointed out the inadequacies of exemptions to addressing the occurrences of family and/or domestic violence for migrant women:

This bill, however, will further deepen the economic insecurity experienced by some migrant women. It will increase their dependency on partners and family, leaving them more vulnerable to controlling and violent relationships. As some of our financial counsellors have noted, without any income, women will have few options to leave an abusive relationship. If they leave, they and their children will face the prospect of homelessness. For many of these women, navigating a complex and unfamiliar system to access exemptions to waiting periods will simply not be an option at a time of crisis.5

1.16 Labor supports this view. Labor Senators are very concerned by the risks posed to migrant women facing economic insecurity. By increasing the waiting periods for critical support services, the government is increasing financial insecurity. People should be able to remove themselves from family or domestic violence situations regardless of their visa status.

4 Ms Rachel Reilly, Manager, Social Policy and Advocacy, Australian Association of Social Workers,

Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 31.

5 Ms Claerwen Little, National Director, UnitingCare Australia, Committee Hansard,

13 September 2021, p. 20.

28

1.17 Ms Sandra Elhelw-Wright, Chief Executive Officer, from Settlement Council of Australia amplified concern regarding the shortfalls of relying on exemptions:

… people don't necessarily know that it's an option available to them and so may not access it because they don't even know that it exists in the first place. They will undergo hardship without pursuing that mechanism. Secondly, it requires quite a high level of evidence and is a complex process to navigate. Many people, even if they are eligible, may not be able to work through that process and ultimately receive the payment.6

1.18 Similarly, Ms Tsorbaris from the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare pointed to the potential of harm that can occur to children for temporary migrants in precarious situations:

…if you're a mum and you're trying to raise a couple of children there's definitely stigma attached to seeking help and there's definitely concern about losing your children to child protection systems.7

1.19 The government's fiscal rationale for the bill is based on a false economy. While the government has cited short term fiscal savings because of extending NARWP payments to four years - there is an oversight in the long-run costs for social services, community and not-for-profit sector.

1.20 The bill leads to cost-shifting, an issue brought up by several groups during the inquiry (who had primarily been left out of the consultation process by the government).

1.21 Ms Little of UnitingCare Australia pointing to the increasing burdens placed on frontline support services in dealing with the fallout of the government’s policy decision:

… we are becoming a replacement for that support. I think that's one of the main issues that we need to look at here: it's about that universality. We're taking that away, which means that, of the private charities, church-based charities and other charities in the community, the community organisations are the ones having to pick up the pieces.8

1.22 In failing to provide safe and efficient support for new migrants, the government is forgoing the value brought by migrants to Australia’s labour market, as there is little room for migrants to properly pursue the jobs best for their skills and experience:

…in not providing migrants adequate support around skills recognition and employment, many migrants do not utilise their skills in the first

6 Ms Sandra Elhelw-Wright, Chief Executive Officer, Settlement Council of Australia, Committee

Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 6.

7 Ms Tsorbaris, Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, Committee Hansard,

13 September 2021, p. 34.

8 Ms Little, National Director, UnitingCare Australia, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 22.

29

ye

ar’s post arrival. This is estimated to have cost the Australian economy $1.25 billion, according to CEDA, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.9

Conclusion 1.23 Labor Senators note with disappointment the failure of the government to consult a large portion of the community groups throughout its policy formulation. Furthermore, the policy's rationale fails to consider its risks to

women and children, as cutting social support places them in financial insecurity. This financial insecurity is also a factor that incentivises an uptake in exploitative work.

Recommendation 1

1.24 Labor Senators recommend the Senate not pass the bill.

Senator Helen Polley Senator Nita Green

9 Ms Rikke Anderson, Policy Officer, Migration Council Australia, Committee Hansard,

13 September 2021, p. 1.

31

Dissenting Report from the Australian Greens

1.1 The Australian Greens thank everyone who made a submission and/or representation to this inquiry.

1.2 The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021 (the Bill) will increase the newly arrived resident’s waiting period (NARWP) on a range of social security payments, allowances, and tax benefits for people who are granted permanent residency in Australia.

1.3 The affected payments, allowances, and tax benefits are: Carer Payment; Carer Allowance; Parental Leave Pay; Dad and Partner Pay; and Family Tax Benefit Parts A and B.

1.4 Currently the NARWP is zero years for the Family Tax Benefit Part B, one year for the Carer Allowance and Family Tax Benefit Part A, and two years for the Carer Payment, Parental Leave Pay, and Dad and Partner Pay.

1.5 If the Bill is passed these payments will go from having a NARWP of between zero and two years, to a NARWP of four years.

1.6 When NARWPs were first introduced in 1993 they were of 26 weeks’ duration, and only applied to certain specified social security payments. NARWPs are now of up to four years duration and apply to most social security benefits.

1.7 The most recent tranche of increases to NARWPs were introduced by the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Encouraging Self-sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants) Bill 2018 (the 2018 Bill). When introducing the 2018 Bill, which was supported with minor amendment by both Government and Opposition, the Government said those provisions would:

… [create] a fair and equitable system that is economically responsible while ensuring safeguards are in place … [and] strike a balance between promoting self-reliance for newly arrived migrants and providing appropriate exemptions for those in vulnerable circumstances.1

1.8 In regard to the current Bill, the government has failed to make an argument that the balance it claimed was struck in 2018 needs to be changed.

1 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Encouraging Self-sufficiency for Newly Arrived

Migrants) Bill 2018, Second Reading Speech, p. 4.

32

1.9 The Bill, as presented in evidence to the Committee by

Mr Mohammad Al-Khafaji of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA):

… directly contradicts the recognition by the government in 2018 that adding a waiting time to these aspects of the social security system will have a substantial negative impact on migrant families.2

1.10 The Bill is the latest in a series of changes that have eroded welfare safety nets provided to new permanent residents of Australia.

1.11 The Government is expecting the Bill to save $671.1 million over the next five years (roughly $134.2 million per year), which is expected to affect, according to the Department of Social Services (DSS) written submission to this inquiry:

 45 000 families will be affected for Family Tax Benefit; and  13 200 individuals will be affected for other payments.3

1.12 A

s noted by Ms Jana Favero of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) in evidence provided to the Committee:

In 2018, DSS estimated that over 100,000 children would be affected by the family tax benefits proposed at the time. We suspect that similar numbers will be affected by this bill.4

1.13 Furthermore, the people affected by the Bill are some of our most vulnerable residents who have already fallen through safety nets provided to other people living in Australia. As submitted by Mr Al-Khafaji of FECCA in evidence to the Committee:

Migrants on temporary visas missed out on JobKeeper, and employers who relied on them had to let them go. They were the first people to be dropped, while major corporations, who did not need the support, made huge profits from the program.5

1.14 These vulnerable migrants will include parents, children, people with a disability or chronic health condition, and their carers. As many submissions to this inquiry warned, these affected migrants will disproportionately be women, who are much more likely to be caring for family, and relying on carer payments and allowances, paid parental leave, and family tax benefits. As submitted to the Committee in evidence by Ms Rachel Reilly of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW):

2 Mr Mohammad Al-K hafaji, Chief Executive Officer, Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils

of Australia (FECCA), Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 14.

3 Department of Social Services, Submission 17, p. 3.

4 Ms Jana Favero, Director, Advocacy and Campaigns, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC),

Co

mmittee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 3.

5 Mr Al-K hafaji, FECCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 13.

33

Th

e three payments affected by this bill are made to families, mothers of newborns, and carers of people with disability or severe medical conditions, including children. Clearly, the proposed changes will have an overwhelming impact on women.6

1.15 This is despite, as submitted in evidence to the Committee by

Ms Claerwen Little of UnitingCare Australia:

Australia's National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children identifying migrant women as a priority group in responding to domestic and family violence.7

1.16 This is particularly disappointing considering the recent National Summit on Women’s Safety, September 2021, which conducted a round table specifically on migrant and refugee experiences of family, domestic and sexual violence. Reflecting on the National Summit, Ms Deb Tsorbaris of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare gave evidence to the Committee that:

Suffice it to say that it would be really good to reflect on these changes in the context of governments around the country saying they want to do something significant to protect all women and children in this country. I'd have to say that these changes are absolutely in opposition to that. It seems almost bizarre to be suggesting these changes at this time.8

1.17 Ms Tsorbaris was also one of many expert submitters to the Committee who gave evidence that the Bill will also further entrench a two-tiered system:

Children who were born in Australia when their parents were on temporary visas will now need to wait an additional four-year period before being eligible for support, unlike other children who are born in Australia. This is unfair.9

1.18 Under the Bill, the two-tiered system will also manifest in how carers are recognised and supported by our welfare system. As noted, and welcomed by Carers Australia in their written submission, a holder of a Carer visa who is coming to Australia to care for a family member is exempt to the NARWP provided for by this bill. This is a clear recognition of the needs of carers and the people they care for. However, the Bill does not recognise that the needs of someone who came to Australia on a Carer visa are no different from someone who came to Australia on a different visa, but then became a carer due to unforeseen circumstances. Representing Carers Australia in the public hearing for this inquiry, Ms Liz Callaghan gave evidence that:

6 Ms Rachel Reilly, Manager, Social Policy and Advocacy, Australian Association of Social Workers,

Co

mmittee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 27

7 Ms Claerwen Little, National Director, UnitingCare Australia, Committee Hansard,

13

September 2021, p. 20

8 Ms Deb Tsorbaris, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare

(CECFW), Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, pp. 30-31.

9 Ms Tsorbaris, CECFW, Co mmittee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 28.

34

Th

ere is an expectation that new migrants will make arrangements to support themselves and their families when they first settle permanently in Australia. This expectation does not adequately reflect the often unexpected nature of caring, which can happen to anyone at any time.10

1.19 Ms Callaghan further noted in her evidence that according to the 2018 ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC), around one in six of Australia’s 2.65 million carers were born in a non-English-speaking country (around 442,000), and around one in ten spoke a language other than English at home (around 265,000).11

1.20 As submitted in writing by UnitingCare Australia, there has been no explanation provided by the Government as to why migrants who find themselves carers, or parents, should be more ‘self-sufficient’ than other Australian residents and citizens who may need support.12 Moreover, like many expert submitters to this inquiry, UnitingCare Australia was concerned that:

... the proposed measures risk undermining the inclusive and needs-based aspects of our social safety net, increasing housing insecurity and poverty among more vulnerable migrant cohorts, and increasing the burden on frontline support services and charities.13

1.21 Concern regarding cost-shifting from the Commonwealth to the community social services sector was raised in most submissions to this inquiry.

1.22 Evidence in support of this was provided by the ASRC, which has seen similar cuts to safety nets inflicted on the asylum seeker and refugee communities they work with. These include tranched cuts to SRSS (Status Resolution Support Service), and cuts to service delivery by merging the Humanitarian Settlement Services program (HSS) and Complex Case Support (CCS) into the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP)), with each round of cuts leading to increased demand on their and services.

1.23 Ms Little of UnitingCare Australia gave evidence that after cuts like these are sustained by vulnerable communities, it is:

… the private charities, church-based charities and other charities in the community, the community organisations ... having to pick up the pieces.14

1.24 But despite the community sector doing all it can with its limited resources - largely provided by state budgets and public fundraising - the ASRC argues

10 Ms Liz Callaghan, Chief Executive Officer, Carers Australia, Committee Hansard,

13 September 2021, p. 21.

11 Ms Callaghan, Carers Australia, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 21.

12 UnitingCare Australia, Submission 10, p. 2.

13 UnitingCare Australia, Submission 10, p. 1.

14 Ms Little, UnitingCare Australia, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 22.

35

previous cuts like these have led to destitution, homelessness, and poverty which have devastated the communities they’ve targeted.

1.25 This is why the ASRC and others argued that these cuts present a false economy. As submitted by Ms Reilly of the AASW in her evidence:

… it might be a budget-saving provision at the federal level but ... that cost is still a burden on the community that has to come from somewhere … [and] if it's about cost saving, it seems counterintuitive that we're creating a system that will ultimately cost the system a lot more in the long run.15

1.26 This is because, according to Ms Reilly and other expert submitters to the inquiry, cuts to safety nets for vulnerable individuals and communities contribute to cycles of poverty and disadvantage which lead to poorer health and education outcomes, and lower community and economic participation.

1.27 Finally, it is also worth drawing attention, as many submitters to this inquiry did, that despite the name of the Bill, this legislation does not target ‘new migrants’; rather, it targets new permanent residents, many of whom will already have lived in Australia as temporary residents for many years.

1.28 As provided in evidence by Mr Al-Khafaji on behalf of FECCA:

The pathway from migration to permanent residency often exceeds four years and involves multiple temporary visas. Approximately half of permanent visas are granted to people who are already in Australia on temporary visas. Waiting times for processing permanent visa applications have continually increased in recent years. The context of prolonged pathways to permanency is important, combined with this bill, because migrants could be without support for approximately eight years. These people have worked, lived and paid taxes in Australia on temporary visas for many years.16

Finding 1.29 The Australian Greens find that the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021 places an unacceptable financial and social burden on migrants, in particular women

and children, many of whom have lived and paid taxes in Australia for many years. It will lead to cost-shifting from the Commonwealth budget to State and Territory budgets and increasing pressure on charities and non-government organisations which provide support to migrants.

15 Ms Reilly, Australian Association of Social Workers, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 30.

16 Mr Al-Khafaji, FECCA, Committee Hansard, 13 September 2021, p. 13.

36

Recommendation 1

1.30 The Bill should be rejected by the Senate.

Sen

ator Janet Rice Senator Nick McKim

Deputy Chair

37

Appendix 1

Submissions and additional information

Submissions 1 Queensland Council of Social Service 2 Migration Council Australia 3 Carers NSW

4 National Council of Women Australia (NCWA) 5 Australian Association of Social Workers 6 St Vincent de Paul Society Australia 7 Per Capita Australia 8 Settlement Services International 9 Carers Australia 10 UnitingCare Australia 11 Economic Justice Australia 12 Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network Australia (MYAN) 13 Australian Council of Social Service 14 Tasmanian Council of Social Service 15 Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare 16 Settlement Council of Australia 17 Department of Social Services 18 Asylum Seekers Resource Centre 19 Victorian Multicultural Commission 20 Social Security Rights Victoria 21 Law Council of Australia 22 Brotherhood of St. Laurence 23 Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia 24 Name Withheld 25 Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing

Answer to Question on Notice 1 Answers to questions taken on notice during 13 September public hearing, received from Australian Association of Social Workers, 16 September 2021 2 Answer to questions taken on notice during 13 September public hearing,

received from Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, 21 September 2021

39

Appendix 2 Public Hearings

Monday, 13 September 2021 Committee Room 2S1 Parliament House Canberra

Migration Council Australia  Ms Carla Wilshire, Chief Executive Officer  Ms Rikke Anderson, Policy Officer

Settlement Council of Australia  Ms Sandra Wright, Chief Executive Officer

Asylum Seekers Resource Centre  Ms Jana Favero, Director, Advocacy and Campaigns

Council of Small Business Organisations Australia  Ms Alexi Boyd, Chief Executive Officer

Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia  Mr Mohammad Al-Khafaji, Chief Executive Officer  Ms Alexandra Raphael, Director, Policy and Advocacy  Ms Lauren Stark, Senior Policy and Project Officer

Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network Australia (MYAN)  Ms Rana Ebrahimi, National Manager  Ms Martika Shakoor, Youth Leadership and Advocacy Officer

Economic Justice Australia  Ms Linda Forbes, Law Reform, Policy and Communications Officer

Carers Australia  Ms Liz Callaghan, Chief Executive Officer  Ms Sue Elderton, Director Policy

UnitingCare Australia  Ms Claerwen Little, National Director  Ms Corrine Dobson, Senior Analyst  Ms Anna Matina, Group Manager, Community Development, North and

West Victoria and Tasmania

40

Queensland Council of Social Service  Dr Gayatri Ramnath, Principal Advisor, Research and Advice

Australian Association of Social Workers  Rachel Reilly, Manager, Social Policy and Advocacy  Mr Charles Chu, Social Policy and Advocacy Officer

Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare  Ms Deb Tsorbaris, Chief Executive Officer  Ms Georgette Antonas, Manager, Policy

Department of Social Services  Mr Matt Flavel, Deputy Secretary, Social Security  Mr Troy Sloan, Group Manager, Pensions, Housing, and Homelessness Group  Mr Andrew Seebach, Branch Manager, Pensions, Housing, and

Homelessness Group