THE Federal Government’s new regime of cutting off payments to welfare recipients for eight weeks if they breach the rules was “unnecessarily harsh punishment”, Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) executive director Frank Quinlan said last week.
Mr Quinlan made the comment after Human Services Minister Joe Hockey accused non-participating charities in the Government’s welfare regime of putting political point-scoring ahead of helping the poor.
Mr Quinlan described the attack by Mr Hockey as disappointing.
He said agencies in his network did not want to become “agents of harsh Government policy” by accepting contracts to manage the finances of people who have welfare axed for eight weeks.
Only 23 agencies have registered for the scheme, in which they will be paid $650 per person to manage people whose payments have been cut off and recommend which of their essential expenses should be paid by Centrelink.
About 18,000 welfare recipients each year are tipped to face an eight-week suspension for breaching the rules, according to a Senate Estimates Committee.
Only 4000 of them, mostly parents and the mentally ill, are likely to qualify for financial case management by charities.
The rest will have to fend for themselves.
Mr Quinlan said this situation was not good enough.
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