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Economy

Businesses must employ outside the box: Federal Minister for Social Services

"The Government is determined to build a welfare system that is simplified, more nimble and more targeted in its supportive interventions," Federal Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Kevin Andrews, told a CEDA forum in Melbourne."

"Higher employment boosts general economic growth. So this was my rationale for appointing a review of Australia's welfare system when I became Minister for Social Services."

Mr Andrews said the interim report into the review of Australia's welfare system - A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes - was released in late June this year.

The report "suggests streamlining the current 75 payments, supplements and allowances into four main categories - a child payment, disability pension, age pension and a tiered working age payment," Mr Andrews said.

"As the interim report explains it, the aim is to produce a simplified system that supports those Australians who are unable to work, whilst providing a more identifiable pathway to employment for those who can work.

"The Government has a role to play in assisting civil society prepare people for work, but business must provide the jobs.

"The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has encouraged small to medium-sized businesses to 'employ outside the box'.

"The interim report mentions in-house initiatives by Westpac and IBM for example. An estimated 12.1 per cent of Westpac employees have a disability and 49 per cent of employees are carers, with 15 per cent of those caring for someone who is elderly or has a disability."

Also speaking at the event, University of Western Sydney Chancellor, Professor Peter Shergold AC, said, "We need to design and deliver our services quite differently. And the way to do that is to empower and engage civil society organisations and communities and individual citizens and, in my view, the private sector.

"I'd like to pay tribute here to the governments in Western Australia and Victoria who have really started to take the lead in promoting partnership between government, the public services and not-for-profit organisations to actually collaborate in designing and delivering government programs.

"If rights and entitlements and needs are to be balanced against responsibilities and obligations … we have to engage civil society organisationally and citizens individually in the design and the delivery and the funding of social services." 

Read full speech (pdf)

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