Data tabled at estimates shows a stark increase in the number of people receiving financial penalties under the draconian targeted compliance framework introduced in July 2018 under the Government’s welfare reform measures.
“I asked for this updated data because I was deeply concerned about what this compliance framework would mean for people on income support. Unfortunately my fears for people on income support have been confirmed”, Senator Rachel Siewert said.
“The data was worrying at Estimates in October and now with the numbers updated by three months the trend of people being suspended from a payments and losing payments for up to four weeks has starkly increased.
“The reality is, under the TCF we are seeing increasing numbers of financial penalties for people on income support, many of whom are living in poverty and have children.
“The data shows that between July 2018 and December 2018, 23,067 homeless people and 38,053 disabled people were in the “warning zone” which results in a payment suspension.
“From July – September 132 homeless people received a financial penalty and by July to December, 785 homeless people had received a financial penalty. It is extremely concerning that homeless people who because of their homelessness have trouble complying with mutual obligations are being treated this way.
“First Nations people are being significantly impacted by this system. 56% of First Nations peoples in the jobactive caseload had some form of suspension and are one quarter of the jobactive caseload who have received a financial penalty.
“28 292 First Nations people also had payments suspended between July – December 2018 as well as 17, 893 single parents, with 183 losing their payments for up to four weeks.
“Over 1000 people on Newstart lost their payment for up to four weeks. 42.5% of people in the Jobactive program had a least one payment suspension.
“This data emphasises the Greens call for the TCF be abandoned.
“It seems fairly obvious now why this program is called the “targeted” compliance framework - because it targets the most vulnerable and poorest people.
“One would have to be wilfully ignorant to not understand that homelessness and poverty are barriers to employment.
“At this point it’s all semantics, the greens zone, the warning zone, the penalty zone – whatever you want to call it people lose their income and do not have access to money to buy the essentials.
“The Government keeps saying that people having their payment “suspended” is not a penalty showing just how out of touch they are. Have they ever spoken to a single parent, someone on Newstart? People are living from payment to payment. A suspension for a day, a week or a weekend has dramatic consequences. I have people contacting me asking where they can get food relief.
“These numbers will only increase and let’s remember that people losing payments are already living in poverty on Newstart payments of less than $40 a day.”
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180