Monday, 20 August 2018
Select Committee on Intergenerational Welfare Dependence; Report
I present an interim report on behalf of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Intergenerational Welfare Dependence, together with the minutes of proceedings and evidence received by the committee.
Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).
by leave—The resolution of appointment for this committee stipulated that the committee present an interim report on or before 20 September this year. The committee determined that it would be beneficial to table this discussion paper as an interim report to provide guidance on the scope of the inquiry to individuals and organisations making a submission.
This discussion paper sets out the areas that are of particular interest to the committee—it is not a comprehensive overview of this far-reaching topic. Intergenerational disadvantage is a topic that touches on many aspects of public policy. To make some progress, it's important to note that this inquiry is not a review of the entire welfare system; rather, it will focus on the intergenerational welfare dependence of families and the outcomes for children.
To this end, the committee is guided by three foundational questions:
Whether these questions are as straightforward as they may seem, the committee is well aware they cannot be answered without agreed definitions and access to data.
A fundamental question for the inquiry is the definition of 'welfare'. At its broadest, welfare can be defined as all social assistance payments. The committee believes that it will be useful to focus on payments to working-age people who have a capacity to work.
A key element of this inquiry is identifying accurate and reliable data that can illustrate the scale, scope and impact of intergenerational welfare dependence. This interim report has identified several data sources. However, the committee is aware long-term intergenerational data is limited. As such, the committee is keen to learn of any other datasets or data sources that can assist in determining disadvantage, particularly across generations.
With agreed definitions and data, the committee will be in a position to focus on families and improving outcomes for children. Understanding why some families require welfare assistance for short periods only and why others become trapped in the system is vital to designing measures and programs that might be used to break this destructive cycle.
As I myself and many others have said in this place before, having employment has a profound effect on people's wellbeing and the long-term prospects of their children. We know there are generally large differences in outcomes between those with the highest levels of parental welfare dependence and those with none.
As part of the inquiry, the committee is keen to hear evidence on the primary influences on children that may affect their later labour force engagement. Importantly, we are also interested in hearing evidence based on interventions that have proven effective in addressing intergenerational welfare dependence.
Today, in addition to tabling the interim report, this inquiry has officially been launched. The committee welcomes submissions to its inquiry from individuals and other stakeholders across Australia.
I encourage everyone—people who are interested in this particular issue—to consider the causes, impact and potential solutions to help curb intergenerational welfare dependence in Australia.
Submissions are open until 18 September and more information can be found on the committee's website at www.aph.gov.au/IGWD.
I look forward to working alongside my colleagues on the committee throughout this inquiry process.