I bet u thought u were safe from interventions harm…wrong

Budget – New participation measures for long-term unemployed, jobless families, teen parents and people with disability, income management trials.

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MADONNA KING: Now under this week’s Budget there are big changes to the way welfare is handed out and it’s teenage parents in Logan and Rockhampton who will really feel the heat first. They are two of ten disadvantaged communities to trial the Government’s welfare to work policies. One trial will see parenting payments frozen to young mums and dads if they don’t complete Year 12 or look for a job. Another involves income management where families considered at risk could have up to half their Centrelink payments set aside to buy the basics. Jenny Macklin is the Federal Minister for Families, Housing and Community Services. Good morning.

JENNY MACKLIN: Good morning Madonna.

MADONNA KING: Logan is one of ten communities for two of these trials. It’s one of only five for another. What makes Logan stand out for something like this?

JENNY MACKLIN: It has a particularly high unemployment rate. I am sure your listeners in Brisbane would be aware that the unemployment rate in Logan is around twice that for the average for the rest of the country. So what we really do want to do is work very closely with those people, teenage parents, single parents, people who have been long term unemployed in the Logan area get back to work.

MADONNA KING: Let’s go through some of those. So what is the unemployment rate in Logan?

JENNY MACKLIN: It’s 9.1%.

MADONNA KING: And is there any breakdown on what category that is? Is it older workers, is it young people?

JENNY MACKLIN: I don’t have the breakdown with me but I can certainly get that for you.

MADONNA KING: Let’s look first at the help teenage parents to finish school. How about work, what do they have to do?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well what they have to do is first of all when their baby is six months old, they need to go to Centrelink and start talking with Centrelink about a participation plan that will apply when their child reaches twelve months old. And the focus of the plan for these young parents will be on getting them back to school, making sure that they’ve got the skills that they need so that when their child is going to school itself then the parent will be able to go to work.

MADONNA KING: So if they don’t comply what happens?

JENNY MACKLIN: The normal Centrelink rules will apply if people don’t attend these compulsory interviews then their payments will be suspended until they engage with Centrelink.

MADONNA KING: If a nineteen year old or a seventeen year old has a twelve month old child and you want them to go back to school, who looks after their child?

JENNY MACKLIN: The vast majority of their child care payments will be met so we recognise that providing child care and also very substantial child care assistance is necessary, so that will be made available.

MADONNA KING: And are their spots, do you know, for their children to fill in these child care centres?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well there’s certainly since we put this policy out, there have been many child care centres come out indicating that they do have vacancies. We know that it’s important that teen parents are able to find a child care place and we’ll make sure that they can afford that place.

MADONNA KING: It’s not just young parents, another trial targets parents who have been on income support for at least two years, just explain what that entails.

JENNY MACKLIN: It’s a similar approach so for parents who have been on income support for more than two years they will also be required to come into Centrelink, work through the issues that are relevant to them. What they will need to do in the early years of their children’s lives is to really focus on the health and early development of their children. So make sure their children are getting the health checks they should be getting, getting them into pre-school, getting them ready for school. And from the time the parent’s youngest child turns four, the parent will be required to start getting themselves ready to go back to work.

MADONNA KING: And they can also see their payments stopped?

JENNY MACKLIN: If they don’t attend the workshops or they don’t attend the interviews. These are normal Centrelink rules. They’re no different from what everybody has to do.

MADONNA KING: Are their jobs waiting for them in Logan to apply for?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well there are certainly jobs in Brisbane and I think you’d be aware that across Brisbane there are many, many jobs going and what we want to do is make sure that those families, especially families with young children can see a way to getting a job. It will be better for them and better for their children.

MADONNA KING: All right. These many, many jobs vacant in Brisbane, where are they?

JENNY MACKLIN: I think you’d be aware that the unemployment rate across Brisbane is much lower than it is in Logan and so what we’re trying to do (interrupted)

MADONNA KING: But it still doesn’t mean there’s a lot of vacancies. Certainly each day I’m hearing from people, particularly in their forties, unable to get a job in Brisbane.

JENNY MACKLIN: And we’re talking here about a lot of young people who might have young children but we want to make sure that they don’t face a life on unemployment benefits, or the single parent payments. We want to make sure that they’ve got the chance to get an education and then get a job.

MADONNA KING: And you’re sure those jobs do exist?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well they certainly do exist for people who have a decent education and that’s why helping young people finish their education, making sure that jobless families get the chance to improve their own education, and get their children into preschool will mean that the families and the children will be better off.

MADONNA KING: There’s also income management trials, who’ll qualify for that and how does that work Minister?

JENNY MACKLIN: The way it works is similar to the way it’s been operating in Western Australia for a couple of years now. So if the child protection authorities in Queensland recommend that there are parents in the Logan area or in Rockhampton would benefit from income management then they can recommend that to Centelink. So what that will mean is that up to 70% of a parent’s welfare payments can be income managed and that will require 70% of their welfare payments to be spent on the essentials of life like food and clothing and (interrupted)

MADONNA KING: And who polices that?

JENNY MACKLIN: Centrelink.

MADONNA KING: And so does Centrelink staff go shopping with them or how does that work?

JENNY MACKLIN: No, everybody gets a Basics Card and this is what operates right across Perth now. So if you’re income managed because you’ve been neglecting your children you’ll get a Basics Card and you can take that to Woollies or Coles and you can spend it on things that are good for your children but you can’t spend it on alcohol.

MADONNA KING: That’s the compulsory component. I understand there’s also a voluntary component here. Who do you think would willingly take it up?

JENNY MACKLIN: We’ve had quite a few people in Western Australia take it up. Sometimes it’s people who have been, who know someone who was compulsorily income managed and they can see that they’ve got control of their finances. So we’ve had older people, young families, quite a range of different people decide voluntarily to have their welfare payments income managed.

MADONNA KING: What’s the safety net here? What if after all these trials, cutting the welfare income still doesn’t work, how will you ensure children aren’t going hungry, families aren’t evicted because they can’t pay the rent?

JENNY MACKLIN: Of course, families, these families will continue to receive their Family Tax Benefits. One of the reasons that people might be income managed is if they’re not paying their rent. So this would be a way of helping people to organise their finances so that in fact their rent was paid.

MADONNA KING: And just before I let you go, there’s criticism today the welfare changes for single parents where if they have a child between twelve and fifteen they get moved from the parenting payment to the Newstart Allowance and that’s going to leave 50,000 people $56 less a week even if they are fulfilling work requirements. Is that too harsh?

JENNY MACKLIN: I don’t think so. What we’re really saying to parents of teenagers is that we want to help you get back to work and so what we’re doing is providing a lot more support to those single parents of teenagers and we’re also improving the income test so that those parents can keep more of what they earn. So if a parent gets a part time job for example, they’ll be able to keep more of the income they earn rather than losing it.

MADONNA KING: Minister, thank you.

JENNY MACKLIN: No problem.

Source: http://www.jennymacklin.fahcsia.gov.au/transcripts/2011/Pages/budget_longterm_unemploy_ABC_12052011.aspx

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mezza
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 21:47:37

    whoa that JENNY MACKLIN can double talk / great BLOG kaiyu! AWESOME!

    Reply

  2. Mary-Ellen Peters
    Jun 18, 2011 @ 21:48:33

    tis me still MEZZa but still an awesome blog!

    Reply

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