Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Next Stage of Welfare Reform: Building a Simpler System

Joint Media Release with:

  • Tony Abbott, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

Today the Government releases a consultation paper on the proposed reform of the income support system for working-age people.

Building a simpler system to help jobless families and individuals outlines issues in promoting participation and improving incentives to work. It also raises a number of key questions for public debate.

Around 2.8 million working-age Australians are on income support – over 20 per cent of all working-age adults. This figure has more than doubled in the last 20 years, even though there are now nearly 3 million more people with jobs.

The Australians Working Together package was the first stage of welfare reform offering greater choice and work opportunities for working-age people on income support.

It is now time to start the second stage of welfare reform. The system we have now dates back to the beginning of the last century. Over the last hundred years it has been constantly added to, tweaked and modified. We now need to have a fresh look at how a new and improved system could be constructed.

Opportunities and expectations are different now, which is why it is important to make sure the social security system keeps pace with modern society.

We must ensure that enough is done for jobless families and individuals to encourage them to help themselves, and be involved in the wider community. We also have to make the system simpler and easier to understand.

The route we want to take will involve a thorough and inclusive consultation process. We want to make sure that any new system recognises the different circumstances that people can find themselves in.

Participation in the community by an individual can take many forms. The Howard Government is committed to supporting and encouraging people to participate in any way they can.

The Government will soon undertake an extensive consultation process. We welcome input from the community and encourage people to make a written submission before Friday, 20 June 2003.

Reforming a century old system won’t be easy. Australia must move to a system that provides incentives and opportunities, as well as a safety net for those in need. The release of today’s consultation paper, however, is an important step forward.

The consultation paper and brochure are available from the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services website