Welfare system shake-up must invest in older people
CONSUMER lobby group National Seniors has called for any reform of the welfare system to ensure that assistance for older people is maintained.
The call comes after the Federal Government this week announced the first stage in a new Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare that uses new data to identify and target groups most at risk of long-term welfare dependency.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter said that for the first time, government had evidence of exactly what was happening to people in the welfare system, down to very small groups.
"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," Mr Porter said.
"The key to creating better policy will be the $96 million Try, Test and Learn Fund, which will enable organisations to compete for a chance to try a policy that proposes to create a path out of the welfare system.
"Young carers, young parents and young students will be the initial priority groups to receive additional support through the fund.
"In the longer term, government will be looking at innovative early intervention strategies, targeted supports and services for other groups across the Australian population, including for older age groups."
National Seniors chief executive Dagmar Parsons said an investment approach that helped people find jobs and break their welfare dependency has the potential to deliver positive results.
"For older people, this new approach must help address the challenges of mature age workforce participation," Ms Parsons said.
"Early intervention to address youth unemployment is important, but we equally need investment to better support older workers find a job."
Ms Parsons also said that new approaches needed to reflect the income support needs of those already retired.
"Greater self-reliance is a worthwhile goal but we would be concerned if this led to a sudden change to income support for older people.
"For pensioners and other low-income retirees, government income support is a key determinant on their well-being."