See More

Priority Investment Approach likely to fail: AASW

Published: 21 September 2016

The Priority Investment Approach to Welfare that was announced by the Minister, Christian Porter, at the Press Club in Canberra yesterday is doomed to failure. It will not address the profound challenges disadvantaged young people face in achieving greater participation in education and employment.

Intervention programs which leave people in poverty do not work and it is better to invest early in assisting people who are at risk of falling into long term disadvantage.

While the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) welcomes the initiative foreshadowed by the Minister that would assist young carers at risk, the Priority Investment Approach is likely to break down because it does not consider the effect of low rates of allowances and how they trap people in poverty.

National President Karen Healy AM says Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance and Austudy are simply too low and causing acute and ongoing distress for many people, including students whom the government wants to target, yet the government is not making the connection.

“It is the low levels of the allowances that is leading many of these students to not complete their studies, and increasing their likelihood of future allowance dependency,” said Professor Healy.

“Clear evidence for this has been provided by Universities Australia and a recent AASW and James Cook University study which show low levels of financial support as having a major effect on many tertiary students, but the government is ignoring it.”

She said she was disappointed to hear Mr Porter rule out increases to Newstart and, by inference, Youth Allowance and Austudy.

“The trouble with the Minister’s analysis for students is it doesn’t recognise that they are usually on the much lower Youth Allowance or Austudy, and to complete their courses generally they have to be in receipt of the allowance for 3 to 4 years,” Professor Healy said.

“It is little wonder that so many drop out and as such are more likely to be allowance dependent in future years. In this context, any program that is devised to help students and other allowance recipients but does not address their underlying poverty is likely to fail.”

To arrange an interview with Karen Healy AM, please contact Emma Pegrum, Media and Marketing Manager on 02 6199 5011 or 0408 200 191

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers