The amendments to the Social Services Legislation Bill will increase waiting periods for new migrants accessing the following income support payments in the following ways:
- Carer payment, parental leave pay (PLP) and dad and partner pay (DaPP), from two years to four years
- Carer allowance and family tax benefit (FTB) part A, from one year to four years
- Low-income health care card and Commonwealth seniors health card, from two years to four years and;
- Family tax benefit part B, a new four-year waiting period.
QCOSS does not support the proposed amendments to the Bill.
We disagree with the assessment that four years is a reasonable period to expect migrants to support themselves and their families before accessing most Australian welfare payments. We also disagree with the portrayal of these amendments as beneficial to new migrants, or that implementing them would make the system ‘simpler’ or ‘easier’. The Bill will only serve to increase hardship and poverty for migrants by creating additional barriers to accessing support.
- These amendments be rejected as they will increase hardship and undermine economic security and development outcomes for the most vulnerable groups of migrants, especially women, children and carers.
- The government does not apply a narrow fiscal and budget savings lens to a complex policy issue. This approach will damage long-term economic and social outcomes for migrants and their families, while increasing expenses on emergency relief and support programs provided by the government.
- The government recognise these amendments treat migrants as ‘less than’ even though migrants should enjoy the same human rights protections as all Australians and they make valuable contributions to the economy and society.
- The federal government reduce the current waiting period required of migrant households to access all benefits to six months, considering most migrants already live and work in Australia for several years before they are eligible to access support. This will ensure that the system is made simpler, fairer, and easier to understand.