Welfare non-compliance: Demographer Lisa Denny says suburb hot-spots 'nothing new'

Ravenswood rated fourth in Tasmania's worst suburbs for welfare compliance, according to statistics released by the federal government this week.
Ravenswood rated fourth in Tasmania's worst suburbs for welfare compliance, according to statistics released by the federal government this week.

Low-socioeconomic suburbs will always have higher rates of welfare non-compliance because of their higher rates of welfare dependence, demographer Lisa Denny says.

Ms Denny was responding to recent data released by the federal government showing welfare “non-compliance hotspots” this week.

The data was released by Human Services Minister Alan Tudge to show the suburbs that have the highest proportion of people who fail to turn up to Centrelink appointments five or more times.

In the top five Tasmanian suburbs, Ravenswood rated fourth on the list, with Glenorchy, Devonport and Bridgewater and Claremont on the list.

Ms Denny said the data was nothing new and any suburb with a higher dependence on welfare would also have a correlating higher level of non-compliance.

“What it does tell us is that efforts to transition people out of welfare and into work by the current and previous governments has been and is not effective,” she said.

Demographer Lisa Denny said high rates of welfare non-compliance would correlate in suburbs that has high rates of welfare dependency.

Demographer Lisa Denny said high rates of welfare non-compliance would correlate in suburbs that has high rates of welfare dependency.

Ms Denny’s comments echo those made by TASCOSS chief executive Kym Goodes, who labelled the data release as a further attempt by the government to demonise those on welfare.

The data released by Mr Tudge did not list suburbs on a per-capita basis, which is why Tasmania did not appear in the top 30 non-compliant suburbs, Ms Denny said.

“Tasmanian suburbs are not listed because our populations are smaller. If they were rates of non-compliance, it might be a different story,” she said.

An unreliable economy and the availability of meaningful and appropriate employment opportunities affects people’s ability to get off welfare dependency and into work.

“It is also important that the provision of education and training matches where current and future employment will be, both geographically and by industry demand,” she said.

“What the government needs to do is reassess how they go about better breaking the cycle of welfare dependence. The stick approach clearly doesn't work.”

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