The Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) has released a policy statement on the Federal Government's welfare reform bills. Their position reads as follows:
QCOSS does not support changes to the social safety net in the Social Services Legislation Amendment Bills, (‘Welfare Reform’, ‘Cashless Debit Card’, ‘Housing Affordability’, ‘Better Targeting Student Payments’, ‘Payment Integrity’, and ‘Ending Carbon Tax Compensation’). QCOSS also does not support the ‘Online Compliance Intervention’ (OCI) automatic debt recovery system continuing in its current form.
QCOSS believes accessing the social safety net (as a right), is a critical part of a civil society and supports social cohesion. These changes unfairly target people experiencing vulnerability by cutting or quarantining payments and tightening eligibility. This undermines the system that is intended to support them.
QCOSS is concerned about the government being granted power, without legislation, to decide who is protected by social security rights, as well as cutting payments and imposing unreasonable wait periods.
QCOSS believes the online compliance system unfairly targets those experiencing vulnerability, putting people’s health and wellbeing at risk. Onus of proof is reversed, being placed onto welfare recipients, instead of the government taking responsibility and addressing the systemic issues.
QCOSS believes addressing complex health and social issues, like substance use problems, through the income support system (including mandatory drug testing and the cashless debit card) is fundamentally flawed.