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Social Security Amendment Bill Introduced

The Social Security Amendment Bill introduced today is the first step in the Government's reshaping of social assistance, the Minister of Social Services and Employment, Steve Maharey, said today.

The Bill places less emphasis on compulsion and more on obtaining sustainable results through working with beneficiaries to make the most of personal and work opportunities.

“This Bill promotes the broader goals of encouraging people to participate in the economic and social life of their communities,” he said.

“It is the beginning of a new system that builds people’s abilities and will support them into paid employment, where possible.”

Key changes are:

 From 1 December 2000 community work will no longer be mandatory and the sanctions associated with community work will be removed. At the same time, voluntary work in the community will become a recognised activity for work-tested beneficiaries.
 From 1 July 2001 the community wage is replaced with a separate unemployment benefit and a separate non-work tested sickness benefit, the current work-test is refocussed and a revised and simplified sanction regime for work-tested beneficiaries comes into effect.
 When the Bill comes into force (anticipated to be in November 2000) the work capacity assessment for applicants and beneficiaries with a sickness, disability or injury will formally end.
 From 1 January 2001 the income thresholds for the disability allowance will be increased.

"The Government wants to build a modern social security system which is tailored to the needs of individual beneficiaries and which offers people opportunities to increase their skills so that can earn a decent wage in a decent job," Steve Maharey said.

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