Welfare "so low it’s inadequate"

THE low level of welfare available for Australia's unemployed was a matter of deep shame for a prosperous nation, the head of St Vincent's De Paul said on Tuesday.

Chief executive John Falzon spoke to a Senate committee investigating welfare and the conditions of the nation's most disadvantaged.

He said the government's dole payment, or Newstart Allowance, and the Youth Allowance were "so low it's inadequate and acts as a barrier to participation in the workforce".

Dr Falzon said the question of whether the nation's battlers deserved help from the government was a matter of dignity, with long-term unemployed often becoming depressed after numerous job knock-backs and a lack of preparation and training for interviews.

He also attacked the Labor Government's current philosophy, centred on the dignity of work, saying that such an idea showed a "complete ignorance of structural drivers of unemployment".

Dr Falzon also said there was an attitude within the government's welfare agency, Centrelink, that everybody was "out to rort the system", rather than focussing on trying to help those in need.

"We can either condemn people not being able to get up the steps, or we can build them a ramp," he said.

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