Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Questions without Notice
Pensions and Benefits
My question is for the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, Senator Fierravanti-Wells. Could the minister update the Senate on the recent release of the Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare 2017 Valuation report?
I thank Senator Stoker for her question because it goes to the heart of what this government is doing to help support Australians to live a better life and to combat intergenerational welfare dependency. We are seeing strong jobs growth in our economy, and we are focused on helping Australians take advantage of these new opportunities. We have also seen welfare dependency of working-age people fall to the lowest levels in 25 years—can I underline that: 25 years—and this is very good news.
Recently the government released the Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare 2017 Valuation report. The valuations of the social security system help the government target funding towards programs and policies that help people move into education or employment, reducing lifetime welfare dependency and of course reducing the lifetime welfare bill.
What that data reveals is that the reduction in the number of people accessing welfare payments has led to a $43 billion decrease in Australia's total future lifetime welfare cost. It also provides telling insights into groups at particular risk of welfare dependency. It reveals, for example, that young people aged between 22 and 24 who've spent more than 80 per cent of their childhood with parents or guardians receiving income support are nearly three times more likely to be on welfare than children whose parents did not receive income support.
This government takes addressing intergenerational welfare dependency very seriously, and this latest report again helps us guide our efforts. Since we have come to government, as Senator Cash keeps reminding us, over one million jobs have been created, including a record of more than 400,000 last year.
Can I thank Senator Stoker for that question, because a priority investment approach is, of course, significant for the future of our welfare system. It helps us target our efforts into policies that can help groups most at risk of welfare dependency, and that is exactly what we have done through the government's $96 million Try, Test and Learn Fund. For example, in tranche 1 the government has committed more than $23 million across 14 initiatives targeted at helping particular cohorts. Under tranche 1, these efforts were focused on helping young carers, young parents and students at risk of long-term unemployment. Through tranche 2, we are continuing these important efforts, because the government believe that the best form of welfare is a job and we are targeting programs and policies that help people move into education or employment, therefore ultimately reducing the lifetime welfare bill.
I'm pleased to provide an update on this next tranche of the Try, Test and Learn Fund. Tranche 2 of the fund will build on the success and learnings of the first tranche, investing up to $50 million in policy responses to support new priority groups with innovative ideas to help them become self-reliant. These are older Newstart allowance recipients, working-age carers receiving a carer payment, at-risk young people on income support, and migrants and refugees on income support. Applications are also welcome for other groups appropriately justified through evidence. Tranche 2 of the fund is open for grant applications to support these priority groups until 28 September this year, and the first batch of successful projects will be announced soon.
Can I reiterate that this government believe that the best form of welfare is a job and we are targeting our programs at helping people get into employment or education.