“Unconditionally” – Covid Response And The Future Of Welfare

By Tim Hollo October 15, 2021

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!

On the evening of October 27, I’m excited to bring you a discussion about this big idea with some of Australia’s leading thinkers, researchers and advocates in the space.

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.

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.

These four brilliant speakers will expand on and discuss their thoughts that will be published in the Green Institute’s forthcoming paper, Unconditionally, that will examine the massive experiment with a kind of Unconditional Basic Income that Australia undertook last year, the changes it made to people’s lives, and the possibilities it opens up to work for a permanent UBI.

Register to join our conversation on October 27 at 8pm AEDT, here.

Yours unconditionally,

Tim

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