Like meat through a mincer, the changes to welfare.
Like meat through a mincer, the changes to welfare.

Boss attitudes are a handicap, not changes to welfare

THE focus on any disability welfare change should be on fixing employer attitudes rather than employees' capacity to work, says a local disability employment service manager.

A review of the nation's $150 billion welfare system was released this week with recommendations of a system overhaul intended to save money and encourage people to return to work.

A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes showed the budget would become unmanageable unless people were put back to work and the payments system streamlined.

Grafton Key Employment operations manager Mike Swarbrick agreed that returning to work when possible should be encouraged, but said one of the biggest hurdles for people with a disability who were trying to get steady employment was the attitude of potential employers.

"The percentage of people with a disability in the workforce is much lower than those outside it ... and that's due to a lot of reasons, but one of those is the perceived negative attitude towards employing someone with a disability," Mr Swarbrick said.

He said current government subsidies of up to $1650 over 13 weeks for employing someone with a reduced capacity to work helped, but more could be done.

"We want to assist those people who can work to work, but I suppose no matter what benefit or payment the person is on it won't be able to change an employer's attitude to give that person a job.

"That should be the focus more than welfare payments.

"Our goal is to focus on people's strengths and assist them to get into employment. Each individual is so different."

The report recommends a new streamlined payment system that would categorize people into five basic payment tiers. The current system has 20 different income support payments and 55 supplementary payments.

Under the new system, those with a five-year or more working capacity of less than eight hours a week would be given access to a supported living pension, after the review found more than 50% of people now receiving the payment have conditions that could improve over time and may not prevent them working in the future.

The rest would be classified under a Tiered Working Age Payment system.


IMMUNISATIONS: Should benefits be tied to vaccinations? 

IMMUNISATION has long been a hot topic, and now the review of our welfare system has chimed in.

The review proposes to provide child payments only if children are vaccinated.

When we asked for opinions on Facebook, Clarence Valley residents were mostly in favour, provided considerations were made for children who could not be immunised for medical reasons. Here is what some of you had to say:

Jen Dan Reimer: I fully agree but if they have medical reasons they should be able to prove it and still be able to get welfare

Ben Webster: This is democracy at its best. Another stripping of rights. It's disappointing that people actually support these covert tactics. This one looks like it was cooked up in a big pharma boardroom. Most people will defend this way of life to the death but they are truly conned.

Diane Maree Young: A lot of anti vaxers are from the top end of town and don't receive Centrelink. Is this poor bashing?

Marcus Greig: A child isn't old enough to decide whether they want polio or whooping cough etc. Get with it and think of the child, not the parent who thinks they know better. If one vaccine saves just one child the world is a better place.

Dale BC Magick: They're already withholding immunisation bonuses for children who have not had all their shots.

Judith Hall: I agree wholeheartedly. Unless parents can prove that their child has remained unvaccinated for a genuine reason (not just because this is what I choose). Vaccination works on herd protection - the more of the herd that are vaccinated the higher the protection.

Brendan Palmer: It does not force children to be vaccinated; the parents choose to forgo any government benefits if they do not vaccinate their children... Big difference. For the record, I think it's a great idea.

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