Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Securing the safety net

The Government is committed to ensuring those who are receiving unemployment benefits are taking every opportunity to look for work or improving their chances of securing employment.

The Minister for Community Services, Larry Anthony was responding to concerns raised by ACOSS and National Welfare Rights Network in their paper Breaching the Safety Net.

“It is a two sided coin. People are breached when they do not comply with their obligations to the community to prove they are actively looking for work.

“However, the vast majority of jobseekers have no problem fulfilling their mutual obligation requirements. Around 82% of jobseekers are never breached.

“It must be remembered that the Coalition Government introduced a much fairer system than in the days of Labor.

“Under Labor, one strike and you lost all payment. We recognised that this was totally unfair and we introduced a system of rate reduction. Benefits are only totally withheld if a jobseeker incurs three breaches within two years.

“The case studies of Rachel, Charlie and Kirsty all show that after Centrelink was made aware of the problems that prevented them from complying with their mutual obligation requirements, their breaches were revoked.

“It shows that when Centrelink is made aware of individual circumstances, they are able to exercise flexibility.

“We recognise that there are people in the community who find it difficult to comply with their obligations because they are homeless, have drug or alcohol related problems, a mental illness or literacy problems.

“These people can be exempted from the activity test. However, I am concerned that many of these people may be falling through the cracks in their dealings with Centrelink.

“It is for this reason I have asked Centrelink to review their administrative processes and guidelines relating to breaching and to identify areas where there can be improvements and report to me in two months,” Mr Anthony said.