Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Research confirms transgenerational welfare dependence

Newly published research showing that generations of families can be caught in welfare dependency has confirmed the need for welfare reform, Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Amanda Vanstone, said today.

Senator Vanstone said the Federal Government had previously identified increasing numbers of children living in jobless families as a key driver of the push to overhaul Australia’s social security system.

“Research published in the latest edition of Australian Social Policy has now confirmed that joblessness and income support dependence are all too often passed from parents to their children,” Senator Vanstone said.

“This highlights a serious problem. The safety net cannot be allowed to become a trap for parents or their children.”

The research followed a large group of young people for a three-year period from just before their 16th birthday.

It found that young people whose parents were receiving income support at the start of this period were much more likely than average to leave school early; experience unemployment and long-term unemployment; have a child before the age of 19; and receive income support themselves.

Senator Vanstone said about one in six young people in this group was highly dependent on income support over the three year period, compared with about one in fifteen of the general population.

“I am concerned that far too many children are growing up without the practical experience of work that comes from having parents in environments where living on social security is seen as the norm.

“This is why it is so important to develop policies to help parents on income support get into paid work with this research suggesting that their children’s future depends on it.”

Senator Vanstone said the trend towards transgenerational welfare dependence was alarming and the facts supported the need to overhaul the welfare system.

“We are determined to put in place an income support system that does not entrench disadvantage but provides people with encouragement to move into work.”

The latest issue of Australian Social Policy contains three other major articles: ‘Retirement incomes of women who divorce’, ‘Targeting poverty: the Irish example’ and ‘Purchaser-provider in social policy delivery: how we can evaluate Centrelink arrangements?’.