The Benevolent Society concerned over proposed changes to social services legislation

8 February 2017

the benevolent society

8 February 2017 – The Benevolent Society CEO Jo Toohey has expressed deep concern about proposed changes to the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill, 2017.

“This is an appalling Bill which contains some egregious measures,” says Ms. Toohey. “It pits different groups in the community against each other. At The Benevolent Society we see these people every day – in their homes and in their communities. These proposed changes will have a real impact on real people. It is deeply offensive to target the most vulnerable groups in our community.

“For those relying on the aged pension and family supports as their sole source of income, these cuts will hurt. They will drive older people further into poverty and will continue to entrench the disadvantage of Australia’s most vulnerable families. For many people relying on the full age pension, life is tough. Paying for food, medical expenses, rent, and utilities means economising and making serious sacrifices. After a lifetime of working, raising a family and contributing to the community, many older Australians find it hard to live a life of dignity when they are financially strapped. These measures will make it so much harder.”

Adds Ms. Toohey, “One of the most concerning cuts is the abolition of the energy supplement. We know that utility bills are a source of distress and financial hardship for people receiving the full age pension and young families struggling to make ends meet. We also know that older people, young and vulnerable families budget very carefully with their use of gas and electricity and that some people turn off their heating in the winter in order to save money.”

Additionally, continues Ms. Toohey, scrapping the Pensioner Education Supplement and Education Entry Payment makes no sense. “The labour force participation of older people is already too low and there are significant disincentives to workforce participation and retraining for older people.

These cuts will widen the gap between older people and work. This is a particular concern in our growing community and aged care sector where there are real challenges in attracting and retaining workers.”

ACOSS has calculated that 1.6 million families, including 136,000 sole parents and families in the bottom 20% of incomes will be affected, increasing poverty and driving the wedge of inequality in this country.

Ms Toohey joins ACOSS and other not-for-profits, calling upon all members of Parliament not to support this legislation amendment.

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For interviews with the speakers, please contact: Melanie King, Manager Media Relations & Public Affairs, The Benevolent Society 02 8262 3547 Melanie.king@benevolent.org.au

About The Benevolent Society

The Benevolent Society is Australia’s first charity, working as a catalyst for social change for over 200 years. The Benevolent Society provides quality services in the areas of Child and Family Support and Assistance, and assisting older people and Australians with disability to age well and live a healthy life, staying in their homes wherever possible. For more information, please visit www.benevolent.org.au, on Facebook/thebenevolentsociety or on Twitter - @BenevolentAU.