National Welfare Rights Network – Breaching the safety net: the harsh impact of social security penalties

A small grant from the Law and Justice Foundation enabled the National Welfare Rights Network, in partnership with ACOSS, to prepare a report on the effect of social security penalties on disadvantaged Australians. The Network obtained data from the Department of Family and Community Services under Freedom of Information to examine the key factors behind the rise of social security penalties, the appropriateness of the level of penalty that is applied for a breach of social security requirements, and the impact on people who are being penalised.

In addition to financial assistance, the Foundation’s research team provided in-kind assistance in terms of statistics, drafting and content.

The report Breaching the Safety Net was released on August 13 and corresponded with the announcement by the Minister for Community Services that he has Centrelink ordered to report on ways it can improve its guidelines and administrative processes relating to breaching.

In addition, the report has prompted a collaboration of agencies to sponsor an independent review into breaches and penalties in the social security system, headed by administrative law specialist Professor Dennis Pearce. The sponsoring agencies include ACOSS; the philanthropic Bokhara Foundation; Brotherhood of St Laurence; Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU); Jobs Australia; Job Futures; Mission Australia; National Welfare Rights Network; Salvation Army; and the Smith Family.

The report is available online in full text from the ACOSS website.

Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by [email protected]