Care needed to protect state’s vulnerable

Imagine a perfect world, where no one gets sick, there is no homelessness, no bigotry, no poverty, no unemployment.

It seems such a distant dream that for the most part looks totally unachievable.

Sadly, we do live in a society were homelessness is a growing concern, unemployment is rising in many regions of the country and – for many – it seems the rich are getting richer and the poor continue their ever-ending struggle.

It’s no secret that the incumbent federal government has some major concerns surrounding this country’s ability to fund its ongoing welfare liabilities into the future.

The Coalition this week released a report that estimates Australia’s life-time welfare bill at a staggering $4.8 trillion.

The federal government has been spruiking welfare reform for months and despite calls from welfare groups to show restraint and compassion, it seems destined to reduce the number of Australians able to claim some payments from Centrelink.

The report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, commissioned by former Social Services Minister Scott Morrison, claims that both young careers and young parents are being failed by welfare spending. 

It states that among the nation's 11,200 young carers aged 15-24, the average person will spend 43 years on welfare and cost the taxpayer $500,000 each.

That puts the total lifetime bill for the group at $5.2 billion.

The government says the aim of its controversial welfare reform package is to break “entrenched cycles of welfare dependency”.

In other words, by cutting their welfare payments, they government will somehow be doing them a favour.

No one would argue that simply throwing money at an issue is always the best course of action.

Finding ways to get people off welfare and into some sustainable level of paid employment should always be our ultimate goal.

But horses for courses. Simply cutting someone’s payments and expecting them to be self sufficient is a always going to be an absolute best-case scenario.

There must be certain levels of protection – a safety net – for people who are not able to meet those expectations.

Imagine the impact in a region like Northern Tasmania – with historically high youth unemployment – if a government took a blanket approach to cutting access to welfare payments? The repercussions would be a social catastrophe.

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