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AASW condemns Centrelink's release of confidential information

Published: 28 February 2017

The releasing of the confidential information of an individual who has spoken out against Centrelink’s flawed debt recovery scheme is an abuse of power and not the way to engage with vulnerable people, says the president of the AASW, Professor Karen Healy.

“The AASW and its members, professional social workers, know the damaging impact of intimidation on people with complex issues,” said Professor Healy.

“The way to engage with people experiencing hardship and looking to their government for support is with empathy and compassion.”

She says the AASW is calling on the government to dedicate its time and resources to improving policies and procedures so people are supported to find ongoing employment.

“Pursuing short term budgetary gains with policies of fear and intimidation will only further entrench people into poverty,” Professor Healy said.

If the government is interested in addressing welfare dependence the most immediate action it can take is to increase the rate of allowances.

“The current rates have fallen so low that they function as an obstacle to finding employment,” Professor Healy said.

“Payment at subsistence levels means people cannot afford the basics such as clothes for, or transport to, job interviews and this approach to welfare contravenes the original purpose of our system which was to provide support when it is needed most.”

The AASW represents more than 9,000 professional social workers who are committed to working with communities and individuals to promote wellbeing, human rights and social justice.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers