Residents, support services cautiously optimistic about welfare review

MORE Ballarat residents are receiving welfare payments for unemployment through federal government schemes, but fewer are receiving disability pensions. 

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) data between July 2012 and 2013 found that about 800 residents living in the electorate of Ballarat were recipients of the federal government’s Newstart Allowance. 

Thirteen fewer residents were recipients of the federal government’s Disability Support Pension (DSP) scheme. 

The findings come as federal minister for social services Kevin Andrews announced a review of Australian welfare payments. 

While a review doesn’t necessarily mean changes will be made to existing schemes, Mr Andrews has indicated that the review will target unemployment benefits and disability pensions. 

But the news of a review hasn’t rattled Ballarat’s Karden Disability Support Foundation chief executive Karen McCraw. 

“I’d like to think the government is conducting the review to address the needs and support people who are maginalised in our community, and that’s not a bad thing,” Ms McCraw said. 

“What concerns me is if the government implements changes that may be made without proper review or consultation.” 

Karden Disability Support Foundation supports more than 100 people living with disabilities in Ballarat. 

Ms McCraw said most people who were supported by her organisation would welcome the review.

Redan resident and welfare recipient Paul Houlihan agrees. 

The 45-year-old lives with chronic anxiety and is receiving welfare through the federal government DSP program. 

He also relies on his wage at McCallum Industries. 

While Mr Houlihan is receiving one of the higher hourly rates at his workplace, he still feels more financial support should be available for those living with a disability. 

“I’d welcome more money, but it’s not always the money that’s a factor,” Mr Houlihan said. “A lot of people with disabilities want to continue working.”

McCallum Disability Services chief executive Shane Molloy said it was essential for governments to review certain policies. 

“All governments and businesses need to review processes from time to time and we support this “ Mr Molloy said. 

Child and Family Services Ballarat (CAFS) chief executive Allan Joy said he would be concerned if changes to welfare payments made it harder for individuals and families to make ends meet.

kara.irving@fairfaxmedia.com.au

AT A GLANCE:

Welfare payments in Ballarat

July 2013:

• 4581 payments of Newstart Allowance 

• 7375 payments of Disability Support Pension

July 2012:

• 3779 payments of Newstart Allowance

• 7388 payments of Disability Support Pension

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