Plan to break cycle of lifelong welfare

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THE Federal Government today launched a campaign to extricate young people at risk of being buried for life in welfare dependence.

It is asking for big ideas from thinkers everywhere to help steer youngsters into jobs.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter announced the $96 million Try, Test and Learn Fund, which would enable organisations to compete for a chance to try policy that would prevent unnecessary entry into the welfare cycle.

The rescue targets include teenagers, mothers and students, the tragic inhabitants of Australias $160 billion welfare system, a system which grabs about 80 per cent of all income tax each year.

Mr Porter revealed people on benefits would be tracked through a purpose-built data system that collates all the welfare information of the past 15 years and applies it in modelling of particular groups.

Through this modelling we can predict the likely movements for target groups on, off and in between welfare payments, and calculate the future welfare expenditure, he said.

He condemned current practices, saying: There is nothing morally superior about welfare structures that are passively allocating money in a way that corrodes the recipients chances of experiencing the meaning, the engagement and the purpose that work brings to all of our lives.

The groups of greatest concern are:

11,000 young carers, who are expected to rely on government money for 43 years

4370 young parents, who will draw on welfare for 45 years, and of whom 80 per cent come from welfare-dependent families

6600 young students, who will rely on income support for 37 years.

Mr Porter launched today the Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare report, which he saidgave a clear, transparent and detailed profile of the welfare system.

He called for a revolutionary approach to help the groups identified by the analysis.

Revolutionary change is required, but required in stages, which shifts the focus onto real people for whom the mere passive receipt of welfare is failing, sometimes spectacularly, to actually make their lives better, said Mr Porter, who outlined the report findings at the National Press Club.

The ideas fund would be open to not-for-profit organisations, governments, social policy experts and industry.

Government will consult on how the fund should operate to best encourage innovative proposals from a wide range of stakeholders, Mr Porter said.