Media Release by The Hon Christian Porter MP

Ensuring the Government lives within its means: a targeted welfare safety net

The Turnbull Government is committed to providing a strong safety net for Australia’s most vulnerable, while improving the integrity of the welfare system.

The welfare system should be well targeted to ensure it helps those who need it most and continue to provide a sustainable safety net for our most vulnerable people and families.

Priority Investment Approach to Welfare

The Turnbull Government is responsibly investing in social services to provide a platform to improve our quality of life.

We will establish a $96.1 million Try, Test and Learn Fund to achieve better outcomes for welfare recipients.

This approach aims to help the Government identify groups at risk of long term welfare dependency and move them off welfare into employment.

This will build on the insights obtained from the Australian Priority Investment Approach, which applies actuarial analysis to social security data. It will help identify groups at risk of long-term welfare dependency and allow us to design innovative policies to address barriers to work and other hurdles faced by groups of people, including carers, students and young parents.

The Education, Health, Social Services and Employment portfolios will develop the policies with key input from external experts and the community sector.

Policies that are found to be effective will be continued or enhanced, while ineffective policies will be improved or ceased, with funding made available to new approaches.

The welfare system must be well-targeted to those who need help the most.

In addition, the Government will invest $5.1 million over four years in two early intervention and prevention trials to reach vulnerable people, improve their future economic and social outcomes and reduce the likelihood of people requiring costly support services later in life.

The first three-year trial will work to build parenting skills in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, focusing on vulnerable families where parents have mental health issues, are in jail, or face significant disadvantage.

The second three-year trial will support young people as they move from out-of-home care into adulthood, providing targeted support and priority access to education, housing, employment services, legal services, and health assessments.

Reducing violence against women and their children

This year’s Budget will also provide $100 million in new funding over three years to reduce violence against women and their children.

The measure will focus on initiatives to empower women and their children, and provide targeted assistance for Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse women and their children.

The measure will draw on the recommendations of the Third Action Plan and will build on the $101.2 million that was provided in the Women’s Safety Package.

The Third Action Plan is part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022. It is due for release in mid-2016.

Supporting the financially vulnerable

The Government will provide $7.1 million in 2016-17 for the Commonwealth Financial Counsellors for Problem Gamblers initiative.

This will allow specialised financial counsellors to continue operating for a further 12 months in 50 locations across Australia. These counsellors are specifically trained to help people manage their addiction and the accompanying financial challenges, and provide early intervention for people at risk of problem gambling.

Cashless Debit Card Trial – third site

The cashless debit card will be trialled in a third location, following the trials in South Australia and Western Australia.

Welfare-fuelled alcohol consumption, drug use and gambling is causing health problems, high crime rates, domestic and community violence, family breakdown and other social dysfunction.

Under the trial, welfare recipients are issued a cashless debit card which cannot be used to buy alcohol, gambling products or to withdraw cash.

Building social cohesion for recently arrived migrants

Australia is one of the world’s most culturally diverse yet socially cohesive nations. Over three years, the Government will invest an additional $10.9 million to help support newly arrived migrants and refugees. We will expand the National Community Hubs Programme and implement a career pathways pilot to assist humanitarian entrants.

Our priority will be to deliver these programmes in locations where newly arrived Syrian and Iraqi refugees will be settled.