The mutual obligation debate has become increasingly paternalistic, stigmatises people on income support, and removes responsibility from individuals, families and communities, Mr Quinlan said.
The comments were made ahead of the release of Catholic Social Services Australia’s discussion paper: The Obligation is Mutual, noting the community consistently fails in its obligations to its most disadvantaged members.
The paper sets out five guiding principles for income support policies and discusses the obligations of both governments and individuals. It argues governments should do more to ensure that the state’s responsibilities are met.
“The government’s role is to create a framework and provide necessary services and incentives that will enable individuals, families and communities to take responsibility for their own development,” Mr Quinlan said.
“Governments’ obligations extend beyond financial support and must include a commitment to help people develop their full potential,” he said.
Catholic Social Services Australia has recommended five steps for better policy: Review the adequacy of income support payments, clearly separate compliance from assistance, replace Work for the Dole, provide better support to parents and use evidence to inform policy change.
“The past 20 years have seen significantly greater obligations imposed on people on income support, and these now apply to a broader range of allowances and pensions,” he said.
“People on income support do have obligations to the broader community, but so too does society have obligations to people in need.
“The fundamental problem with the current approach is that it fails to recognise that the obligation is mutual,” Mr Quinlan said.
Catholic Social Services Says The Obligation Is Mutual (Catholic Social Services Australia, 29/10/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Social Services Australia
Family Assistance Office - Australian Government
Centrelink - Australian Government
Catholic Social Services quits Govt's "immoral" program (CathNews, 18/08/06)
Catholic Social Services welcomes falling unemployment (CathNews, 26/05/06)
Catholic agencies hit back at Govt over welfare-to-work (CathNews, 24/05/06)
Agencies sceptical on welfare voucher plans (CathNews, 16/11/06)
29 Oct 2007