Social Services Minister Christian Porter says sweeping changes are needed to make positive impacts in people's lives.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter says sweeping changes are needed to make positive impacts in people's lives. LUKAS COCH

Nation's welfare at stake

WHILE creating a new multi-million dollar fund to help combat welfare dependency may seem a bit like a gambler chasing his losses, the Federal Government is calling for a social security revolution.

More than $90million will be made available to community and non-government organisations through the Try, Test and Learn fund to help long-term welfare recipients find - and keep - jobs.

Department of Social Services research highlights the growing reliance on welfare and dependency on a system that allows long-term unemployed to choose to remain so.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter voiced his concerns that passively handing out payments was turning some recipients into dependents.

"The human cost of lost opportunities, of lost potential, is a terrible result of the system that we have in place at the moment,” he told ABC Radio this week.

The image of the prototypical dole bludger is not a new one, but its days may well be numbered, with new rules being considered to ensure welfare recipients work for their payments.

In announcing the Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare, which focuses on improving the individual lives of people stuck in the system, Mr Porter said sweeping, wholesale change was now a requirement in making positive impacts in people's lives.

"The outcomes highlighted from the report are particularly concerning for the young people identified. Nobody wants to see a life spent in the welfare system from a very young age,” he said.

"The future foundation measure of success must be whether we can improve individual prospects for a better life, made meaningful by employment, community contribution and self-reliance.”

Perhaps most troubling is the welfare dependency among students and young people. In 2014-15, 392,000 were receiving some form of study support payment, be that ABSTUDY, Austudy or Youth Allowance.

The problem is that in 10 years, almost half of those 392,000 people will still be receiving some form of income support - the Newstart, Youth or Sickness Allowance, or the Special Benefit. All are paid to unemployed people who are expected to return to work.

Which is as much an indictment of the fluidity of our employment market as it is our welfare system.