Unconditionally: How Covid Response Points The Way To Unconditional Welfare

Unconditionally: How Covid Response Points The Way To Unconditional Welfare

Can we imagine a future where income support payments in Australia are permanently made unconditional? The Covid response helps us do so – and it’s a brighter future!

Webinar: 8pm AEDT, Wednesday 27 October 2021

When the Covid pandemic sent Australia into lockdown in 2020, the Federal Government was pushed by advocates and circumstance into an extraordinary step that changed lives and changed politics. Not only did they effectively double income support payments, but they suspended all so-called “mutual obligations” – the flaming hoops that people excluded in various ways from the mainstream labour market are forced to jump through in order to receive these below-poverty-level payments.

It is no exaggeration to say that the suspension of these “mutual obligation” conditions, alongside the higher payments, saved countless lives. People were able to isolate safely, pay off debts, and plan for the future with some confidence. The positive impact on the physical and mental health of tens of thousands of people is hard to overstate.

As NSW, Victoria and the ACT emerge from 2021’s lockdowns – lockdowns that saw MOs suspended again, but payments kept below the poverty line – it’s time for a serious conversation about making unconditional income support permanent in Australia.

Over the last generation, governments have introduced a proliferation of surveillance-based conditions – whether it’s “workfare” or requirements to apply for numerous jobs, the paternalistic “Parents Next” and cashless welfare cards, or simply the demand to show up for meetings regardless of other commitments. They’ve been introduced along with a punitive approach that sees already meagre payments suspended for even minor breaches of these conditions. This approach helps no one except the private companies that profit from the process.

Unconditional income support helps people find their feet. It helps people live their lives with enough confidence to plan for the future, and work out how they can best participate and contribute. It cultivates trust in our society by demonstrating trust in each other. And it shows basic human decency.

To help us imagine a future of unconditional income support, the Green Institute is delighted to bring you a webinar conversation with four leading figures in the space in Australia: Dr Elise Klein OAM from ANU’s Crawford School, Dr Shelley Bielefeld from Griffith University Law School, Maiy Azize, Deputy Director of Anglicare Australia, and Kristin O’Connell from the Anti Poverty Centre.

The webinar will expand on and discuss their contributions to the Green Institute’s forthcoming paper, “Unconditionally”.

Register below to join us at 8pm AEDT, Wednesday 27 October 2021

Full bursaries are available. Email event organiser (email listed below) with your request.

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