Welfare penalty for ‘bad’ parents

The Australian July 02, 2007
ALL parents – black and white – who waste welfare money on alcohol, drugs or gambling, or do not send their children to school, will lose access to up to 40 per cent of their payments. Cabinet will tomorrow discuss a plan to force parents across Australia to account for their children during school hours or face  Centrelink taking control of their family assistance payments. Children identified as at risk will be the first to be targeted, with Centrelink intervening to ensure essentials such as rent, food and medical expenses are paid. It would allow the Government to quarantine 40 per cent of the family payment for 12 months.The initiative is similar to the project about to be implemented in the Northern Territory as part of the Government’s radical measures to tackle child abuse in remote communities. But there is a key difference. Under the national plan, only “bad” parents will have their payments quarantined, whereas the NT welfare measures will apply to all Aboriginal parents in a targeted community, regardless of their abilities. The plan relies on Centrelink getting accurate data from stategovernments on school attendance. The first parents to be targeted will be those already identified by State Child Protection systems where there is a risk to the child but the child remains with their family.