Friday, 9 May 2008

Budget to roll out new welfare card

Welfare plan: The new card will be initially rolled out in NT Indigenous communities. The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) says the Rudd Government's proposed welfare debit card is not the best way to help struggling families.

The Federal Government will use next week's Budget to unveil a new welfare card to make sure parents spend the payments on their children.

The debit card will contain a portion of a family's welfare payment which can only be spent on necessities like food and clothing.

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says the card will be issued from July in certain Northern Territory Aboriginal communities but could eventually be used in all states and territories.

Intervention store card scrapped

The Federal Government has announced a change in how welfare quarantined from people living in some Northern Territory Aboriginal communities is accessed.

Centrelink payments put aside for essential items will now be accessed via a PIN-protected EFTPOS debit card, rather than the store card that was introduced as part of the emergency intervention.

The store card has been criticised for using a complicated accounting process and being limited to larger chain stores.

The Government says purchases will still be limited to essentials like food and clothes. The debit card be rolled out from July.

ACOSS rejects welfare card scheme

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) says the Rudd Government's proposed welfare debit card is not the best way to help struggling families.

ACOSS President Lyn Hatfield Dodds says the card will not work.

"ACOSS doesn't believe that quarantining payments is the best way forward," she said.

"We would prefer to see Government investing in the supports and services that families need.

"Quarantining at best will keep those families in a holding pattern, but it will not build their capacity or capability to make different choices and move out of crisis."

The Australian Council of Social Service says Rudd Government's proposed welfare debit card is not the best way to help struggling families.

Quote: These laws are draconian and as usual the Federal Government has based its decision on the worst of the worst cases found in the NT with the intention to use the Aboriginal Community who have been disenfranchised for over 200 years to eventually open the same umbrella and broaden these draconian laws for use on all Australian welfare recipients. Shame on the Federal Government. All Australians should argue against laws like these that take away their autonomy to make choices and learn from their mistakes.

Dr Sue Gordon head of the federal intervention in the Northern Territory

Work-for-dole 'will not help'

THE head of the federal intervention in the Northern Territory has attacked the Rudd Government for moving to reinstate the Aboriginal work-for-the-dole program in 30 communities, claiming many will reject the scheme.

Sue Gordon said the move would not help the intervention's aims and was a retrograde step.

The Howard government abolished the Community Development Employment Project scheme when it announced the emergency intervention in 73 communities last June, but the Rudd Government halted the process after it was elected and instead promised to modify the CDEP scheme.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has said she wants to consult communities before imposing a new version of CDEP on them. Until that time, she says all communities should be allowed to have access to the same regime.

"The previous government's rushed decision to abolish CDEP in the NT means former CDEP recipients are eligible to receive up to $790 a fortnight without any requirement to work," Ms Macklin said.

"This short-term approach to axing CDEP without an effective alternative has created inequities and inconsistencies, forcing more people on to passive welfare.

"The Government will, as an interim measure, introduce CDEP from July 1, 2008, in the 30 prescribed NT communities where CDEP was abolished to ensure individuals are required to work to receive their pay."

But Dr Gordon said she was "very disappointed".

"The Government says it's to get a level playing field and then they'll review it and reform it. But there are communities who just don't want it back," she said.

"I'm told they won't be forced to have it back so those are the people that are just moving on with things.

"I want to get people off those second-class wages to get into real jobs. To put it back now is disappointing."

Dr Gordon said she was alarmed because there were some CDEP organisations excited about the scheme returning as it would allow them to relaunch businesses.

She said it was outrageous that the communities were relying on CDEP to help them run private businesses.

"It's not a business, is it, if it's run by CDEP, people are being paid CDEP money. You can't have CDEP propping up businesses. Businesses should be making money."

Dr Gordon said indigenous people had been languishing on CDEP since 1979. "That's just disastrous (and) we've got to get rid of it," she said.

"It really hasn't served our people well."

Dr Gordon has made some suggestions about how CDEP could be reformed, including creating a rule that no one can stay on the scheme for more than 12 months.


Union urges PM to act on Stolen Generations promise
The Australian Education Union (AEU) wants the Federal Government to follow Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations with a significant funding boost for Indigenous education in the Northern Territory.

Racism to blame' for Aboriginal health problems
The Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTAR) group says racism is directly to blame for many health problems in the Aboriginal community.

Union calls for $2.9b to fund education shortfall
The Education Union is calling on the Federal Government to provide an extra $2.9 billion in funding for public schools

Govt, union defend remote community schooling
The Centre for Independent Studies says Aboriginal students in the Northern Territory are finishing school with the numeracy and literacy skills of five-year-olds.

Police cannot cope with backlash
Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, has warned the Federal Government that many indigenous people displaced by the emergency intervention are creating unrest and straining police capacity.

2020 Indigenous youth delegate calls for national body
An Indigenous youth representative at this weekend's 2020 summit says a new national Aboriginal body should be created to avoid some of the add-hoc policies surrounding the federal intervention.

Call for new indigenous body
Former ATSIC Commissioner Klynton Wanganeen says he will raise the idea of a new national body to represent indigenous communities at the 2020 Summit.

Aboriginal delegation heads to UN
The National Aboriginal Alliance is taking its concerns about the Northern Territory intervention to the United Nations

Roxon signs off on Indigenous health pledges

Indigenous Australians will have access to the same health services as the rest of the population by 2018, under a Federal Government plan.

Indigenous welfare quarantine scheme gets go ahead
Parents in four Cape York Indigenous communities could soon have their welfare payments quarantined if they do not take care of their children and homes and do not stay out of trouble with the law.

Discrimination Act should apply to intervention: Calma
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner wants the Racial Discrimination Act immediately reinstated in the Northern Territory's Indigenous communities.

Aboriginal inmates '22pc and rising' of prison population
The Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health says new research is urgently needed to address the worsening rate of Indigenous incarceration.

No comments: