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Analysis and Comment (25)

Despite a fall in our rate of child poverty, there is reason to be concerned about recent changes and future trends in Australia. AAP/Joe Castro

Australia bucks child poverty trend but the future looks a lot bleaker

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has just released its latest report card on child well-being in 41 rich countries. In particular, the report looks at the effects of the economic crisis on children…
Anyone who imagines most job seekers have it easy probably hasn’t been out of work recently. Flickr/Florian Simeth

Ten job seekers per vacancy: a reality check on welfare overhaul

It turns out that the policies for under 30s in the federal budget in May were a precursor to a much wider set of changes affecting unemployed people across the board. These are just now coming to light…
Kevin Andrews and the government’s vision for welfare reform depends entirely on whether labour market opportunities will open up to those for whom it has previously been closed. AAP/Gary Schafer

Welfare review fails to understand Australia’s labour market

The interim report of the Review of Australia’s Welfare System, led by former Mission Australia CEO Patrick McClure, is a vexed piece of work. Much in it is commendable and even far-sighted, but there…
The government wants young people to be learning or earning, but at some point they should be treated as adults. Dean Lewins/AAP

Earning, learning or confused: mixed signals on jobs for young

When should a young person start getting paid as an adult? It depends on where the money is coming from, according to current government policy - policy that is sending conflicting messages about the true…
The policy idea seems to be that poverty will force young people to work, but what if there are too few jobs? AR Images/Shutterstock

Budget wields big sticks and offers few carrots to young people

In the lead-up to the 2014-15 budget, Australians heard the federal government’s mantra that the “adults are back in charge”. However, the government’s approach to young people has been vague since its…
Treasurer Joe Hockey warned Australians that ‘the age of entitlement is over’ – a promise that certainly came true for young Australians in the federal budget. AAP/Lukas Coch

Young people are now on the edge of our reconfigured welfare state

The 2014-15 federal budget continues the deconstruction of Australia’s post-war welfare state. In fact, the budget takes it a step further, particularly for the young. People under the age of 30 will now…
The government plans to re-introduce work for the dole, but does it work? Shutterstock

Work for the Dole doesn’t work – but here is what does

The Work for the Dole program could again become a core element of welfare policy for the unemployed in Australia, but there is a considerable body of evidence which shows it is unlikely to help people…
Moving some sole parents onto the lower Newstart payments has pushed up the numbers. Alan Porritt/AAPIMAGE

Is ‘unsustainable’ welfare growth really being driven by Newstart?

Social services minister Kevin Andrews has targeted the Disability Support Pension and Newstart, the main payment for the unemployed, for reform, branding the current level of welfare as unsustainable…
Single parents' protests last year at being transferred to Newstart were ignored, and the evidence suggests the move made it harder to get suitable work to support their families. AAP/Paul Miller

An 800,000-plus jobs gap between ‘welfare to work’ and reality

The major missing factor in debates on cutting welfare spending – as has been flagged by social services minister Kevin Andrews – is the limited and falling demand for labour. Labour market figures give…
Despite criticisms that Julia Gillard has overplayed the gender card, the policies of her government have put in place a framework for true gender equality in the workplace. AAP/Alan Porritt

Gender equality at work: the Labor legacy

I was recently phoned by a journalist and asked to reflect on what the Labor government had done for gender equality. I started to jot down a number of reforms on the back of an envelope and surprised…
Looming cuts to expenditure and probable tax increases mean there will inevitably be winners and losers. But just how should these be chosen? Image sourced from www.shutterstock.com

ALP’s real budget balancing act is picking the winners and losers

The government is facing two options to tackle its budget deficit: significant cuts in government expenditures or increasing taxes to close the gap with spending. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has already…
The government policy which moves sole parents onto lower paid Newstart benefits once their children turn eight has caught the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Flickr/Flickeringerbrad

How can the government justify a policy that penalises working sole parents?

Late last year, the United Nations' Human Rights Council expressed its concern that moves to push sole parents onto a lower paid income support may breach our responsibilities under a number of human rights…
Sole parents face competition from other jobseekers for flexible jobs that enable them to care for their children. AAP

What the government wants to ignore about sole parents and jobseeking

It is universally agreed Newstart is inadequate, especially for the long-term support of individuals or families. The government says their solution is for recipients to get a job, but that is not easy…
Jenny Macklin has found herself in hot water over comments about the dole. AAP/Alan Porritt

ALP must make a Newstart on its broken welfare policy

There seems little doubt that Families Minister Jenny Macklin’s office attempted to “fix up” her extraordinary faux pas last Tuesday – her claim that yes, she could live on the daily income of $35 received…
The ALP has passed a bill that will reduce the social security payments for single parents — most of whom are women. Ed Yourdon\Flickr

Prejudiced policymaking underlies Labor’s cuts to single parent payments

There’s no doubt that last week’s stoush between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott over sexism and misogyny was extraordinary. But in spite of all the bluster, a comparison of each party’s policies might serve…
Single mothers such as Michelle Daly have high aspirations for their children. Reducing their payments won’t help achieve them. AAP/Lukas Coch

Taking the big stick to single parents is not the answer

New legislation was passed last week to move single parents off the parenting payment, and onto the Newstart Allowance once their youngest child turns eight. Advocates for this change suggest that the…
Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has agreed to examine Newstart rates after ruling out a raise to the dole earlier this week. AAP

Down and out, and on the dole: why the Newstart Allowance needs a raise

Why do we have welfare policies that create unnecessary poverty? Despite a multitude of reports, submissions, public pleas and other advocacy on the problems of Newstart (NSA) recipients, the government…
Policymakers should ensure that the safety net provides adequate income for daily needs as well as ensuring that people are positioned to quickly reintegrate into satisfactory paid employment. freefotouk

No through road: path to prosperity eludes America’s jobless poor

In the late 1990s, American writer and activist Barbara Ehrenreich spent a year working in low end jobs in the United States documenting the pitifully low wages, the oppression, and barriers to upward…
The increased provisions for welfare spending are partially symbolic, but also lay the foundations for a more progressive tax and welfare system. AAP

Class warfare in the budget? That’s a bit rich

The Treasurer Wayne Swan has described the 2012 Budget yesterday as “a Labor budget to its bootstraps”, and commentators have variously seen it as “a big taxing, big spending budget, including a big increase…
For the majority of Newstart Allowance recipients, payments barely cover the cost of rent - let alone other living expenses. AAP

Paltry Newstart Allowance is fast becoming a poverty trap

Despite ongoing uncertainty about global economic conditions, prosperity in Australia remains both very high and relatively widespread. But there is one group in Australia who has not shared in our rising…

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