The Social Service Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017 (“Welfare Reform Bill”) could be passed in the first week of Parliament, beginning on 5 February. The Welfare Reform Bill will hurt the most vulnerable people in our communities and will place more pressure on frontline services, including homelessness services, domestic violence services, drug and alcohol services and emergency relief services.
The Welfare Reform Bill will:
- Remove backpay for people accessing an unemployment payment.
- Remove legislated protections that ensure that people who, when claiming a payment cannot get all their paperwork together to support their claim because they are experiencing domestic violence, homelessness, a natural disaster, etc. can get access to a payment.
- Remove reasonable excuse and exemptions for people who cannot meet their mutual obligation requirements because of their drug or alcohol addiction (or a crisis related to their drug/alcohol addiction, such as eviction) and force people into treatment to satisfy their mutual obligation requirements. This will lead to more people being breached under the compliance system for jobseekers.
- Impose a harsh compliance system for jobseekers, where if the person fails to meet their mutual obligations five or more times in a six-month period without a reasonable excuse, they will lose between one and four weeks payment with no waivers (even if they have children).
The National Council of Social Service (COSS) Network are collectively calling for frontline services to contact the Nick Xenophon Team and other crossbench senators and explain how cutting payments to people with addiction, people experiencing a crisis, people who are at risk of homelessness, and people who are unemployed, will affect your community and place significant pressure on your service.
It is important to convey real life examples of people’s experiences of using Centrelink, a job service provider or dealing with homelessness and domestic violence. Share these stories on social media and traditional media to communicate the impact of this Bill. Take action and write to the Xenophon Team today!