23 March 2015
McClure Report A 'Mixed Bag'
The long-awaited McClure Report offers a mixed bag of recommendations focussed mainly around reducing unemployment and streamlining income support, says Jocelyn Bignold, CEO of McAuley Community Services for Women.
“Our submission called for a gender lens to be applied to Australia’s growing income inequality to better assist women who are homeless or escaping family violence are unfairly treated.”
“Some of the recommendations contained within the report could be good for women if there is a real accompanying focus on permanent work which is close to home and provides a decent wage,” said Ms Bignold.
She said she was disappointed that the McClure Report had ignored women’s financial inequity and economic abuse experienced by many women.
“As a society, we must also recognise that many women who escape family violence become homeless due to lack of finances, limited public housing or safe, affordable housing.”
She said the extension of the Commonwealth Rent Assistance to public housing tenants was to be welcomed as a first step towards helping women who are already facing poverty as a result of their brave decision to leave family violence.
“More needs to be done to increase safe, affordable housing across Australia.”
McAuley Community Services for Women, along with other community organisations, has welcomed attention being given to the adequacy of payments people receive.
“We do need a simpler, fairer and more adequate welfare system. Adjusting payments through the use of an expert panel every four years is welcome,” said Ms Bignold.
“We support the notion of a Jobs’ Plan for people living with a disability or mental health conditions, and the increased support to assist people with mental health issues to find paid work.
“We also welcome an introduction of the passport but only if it does deliver the safety net of an easy and quick return to former benefits if work ends or hours are reduced.
McAuley Community Services for Women wants to see a reform of the job services program with proper case management put in place which offers the right support at the right time and for the right amount of time.
“Our experience shows that 22% of participants in McAuley’s employment program are either voluntary or non-eligible participants of job services. Many others are actively discouraged from seeking support until their ‘problems’ are sorted out,” said Ms Bignold.”