The current government welfare system is full of politically-driven anomalies while the community sector is being overwhelmed by red tape and bureaucracy, Catholic Social Services head, Frank Quinlan, said ahead of this weekend's 2020 Summit.
In a statement, Mr Quinlan, says stronger families and more cohesive communities should be the focus for the 2020 Summit this weekend.
"Firstly, we must develop anti-poverty targets for 2020 if the Government’s Social Inclusion Agenda is to have real meaning for our most disadvantaged citizens," Mr Quinlan said.
"Secondly, we have to take the politics out of the welfare system. An Independent Entitlements Commission should be established to ensure the level of pensions and entitlements is always sufficient to meet people's most basic needs, regardless of their political power.
"The establishment of such a Commission would take the politics out of pensions and entitlements in the same way, the Reserve Bank of Australia takes the politics out of interest rates, the Fair Pay Commission takes the politics out of the minimum wage, and the Remuneration Tribunal takes the politics out of setting politicians salaries.
"Pensions and entitlements should be based on good evidence, not political debate," Mr Quinlan said.
But the current system is "full of anomalies born of random payments and bonuses that arise more out of political circumstances that out of good social policy", he continued.
"Thirdly, the Summit must make plans to build a strong, vibrant, high quality community sector for the future.
"The community sector currently provides essential services to the community, but it is being overwhelmed with red tape and bureaucracy. When resources are scarce, these layers of bureaucracy are robbing clients of the services they need.
"Issues for consideration include a workforce strategy to address chronic shortages of qualified staff. Streamlining performance measures and funding are also essential. A creative approach to partnerships between governments and the community sector is also long overdue," Mr Quinlan said.
In another story, Australian Catholic University Vice-Chancellor Greg Craven will be pushing at the Summit for a constitutional referendum on federalism, The Australian reports.
Goals for the 2020 Summit (CSSA, Media Release, 17/4/08)
Messages on health become No 1 issue (The Australian, 18/4/08)
Huddling in power's corridors (The Australian, 15/4/08)