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Beneficiaries need to be heard

24 November 2010

Experiences of beneficiaries need to be heard in considering Welfare Options
First Alternative Welfare Working Group report to be released on Friday

Politicians, welfare workers and our wider society need to hear the experiences and views of those who will be most affected by the recommendations of today's government-appointed Welfare Working Group Options Paper, says community-appointed Welfare Justice: Alternative Welfare Working Group chair Mike O'Brien.

"They will have a chance to read the kinds of stories we have heard over the past few months when our first report Welfare Justice: What we heard is released on Friday, and to see our own recommendations in our December report," says Dr O'Brien.

Dr O'Brien's initial response to the executive summary of the government-appointed Welfare Working Group's Options paper was that there are fundamental concerns about the directions, given the stories and experiences shared with the Alternative Welfare Working Group through its fifteen public meetings and ninety-one written submissions. "The 'options' in the Options paper do not bode well for building an effective social security structure."

This was particularly evident, for example, in the options recommended around impacts on children, Work and Income decision-making, the reality of the employment market and the implications for beneficiaries. "While recognising this is an Options Paper, some outcomes within the scope of the recommendations would result in the creation of a draconian two-tier society. The implications, especially for children, are particularly worrying."

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On Friday, Welfare Justice group members Paul Dalziel and Wendi Wicks, together with group adviser Susan St John, will speak at a welfare seminar organised by Victoria University's Institute of Policy Studies. This will also mark the release of the Alternative Welfare Working Group's first report Welfare Justice: What we heard. The main Alternative Welfare Working Group report will be released by the group on December 9.

ENDS

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