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Report confirms Coalition's latest clawback unfairly targets young Australians.



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Kate Lundy - Report Confirms Coalition's Latest Clawback Unfairly Targets Young Australians http://www.alp.org.au//media/0801/klmsss140801.html Wednesday, 15 August 2001

Report Confirms Coalition's Latest Clawback Unfairly Targets Young Australians Kate Lundy - Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs

Media Statement - 14 August 2001

"Yesterday's release of the damning report by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the National Welfare Rights Network revealed that young people have been more affected than any other age group by the Coalition's punitive penalty regimes for social security recipients," Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy, said today.

"The Coalition has been forced to admit it has been too mean on mandatory breaching by reducing or cancelling the Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance payments of young people - already on low incomes - for failing to meet minor administrative or activity test requirements," Senator Lundy said.

According to the report:

Given the extremely low rates of payment that unemployed young people receive, the consequences of breaches on young people are most severe. A breach leaves a person on Youth Allowance with only $110 to $119 to live on each week. Our evidence is that this is leading to increased homelessness and far greater reliance on charities. Anecdotal evidence also points, in some cases, to an increase in theft and unlawful activity in order to survive.(1)

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"After vehemently defending their hard-line "welfare crackdown" since 1997, it is only now, after being caught red-handed, that they have rushed out to announce an internal review to appease community and political backlash," Senator Kate Lundy said.

"The Coalition has continued its campaign of mean and aggressive breaching under the guise of a "welfare crackdown" agenda. It has blatantly refused to listen to either the young people affected or the under-resourced community organisations which have been forced to make up the shortfall out of a moral obligation to do the right thing.

"The report details the Coalition's $259 million annual "clawback", which has been generated by

targeting nearly 350,000 Australian job-seekers who have virtually no capacity to pay, including the homeless, people with alcohol and drug problems, people with mental illness and welfare recipients with poor literacy skills.

"This report mirrors findings in the Government's Youth Pathways Action Plan Taskforce report, which stated:

Marginalised young people indicated that, in some circumstances, they had turned to petty theft or drug dealing to survive.(2) ●

"Many young people and welfare dependent families have been forced to resort to desperate measures to meet their very basic needs at the hands of the Coalition, after suffering periods of up to eight weeks without any money or reduced minimum payments.

"This latest report vindicates Labor's claims that the Howard Government is making significant savings through its unfair breaching system by ripping money off many young jobseekers and unemployed Australians.

"This report has exposed the Coalition's sham claim that it only breaches people as a last resort.

"This proves the Howard Government's priorities are about pinching money from the most vulnerable and funding tax cuts for the rich and their friends at the big end of town.

"This is yet another example of young people being classified as the "losers" under the Howard Government," Senator Lundy said.

(1) ACOSS and National Welfare Rights Network, Breaching the safety net: the harsh impact of social security penalties, August 2001 (2) Youth Pathways Action Plan Taskforce, Footprints to the Future, July 2001 Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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