Early intervention is the key to breaking the cycle of inter-generational welfare dependency, Warrnambool Salvation Army corps officer Major Peter Wood says.
Mr Wood’s comments come after the federal government announced on Tuesday “revolutionary changes” were needed to reduce long-term welfare dependency.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the new approach aimed to identify and target groups most at risk.
Mr Wood said any measures which enabled people to “step out” of the welfare cycle were “extremely helpful”.
“We’re seeing people who have grown up in generational welfare. Where you’ve seen people break out of it, it has benefited them and the community,” he said.
Youth were modelling their lives on their upbringing and the challenge was to encourage them to “step outside” by providing appropriate housing, education, training and other support, he said.
“It’s enabling people to do that – not just helping them out with handouts. They’ have to be determined to do it… to get education or be in a program that supports employment or education and training,” Mr Wood said.
The Baseline Valuation Report used data from various sources to provide evidence about welfare recipients’ futures.
“For the first time in history through the Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare, we have a clear, transparent and detailed profile of the welfare system,” Mr Porter said.
He said it helped identify what happened to those with the highest risks of long-term dependency and analysed the impacts of policy designed to help break the cycle.
“Revolutionary change is required, but required in stages which shifts the focus on to real people for whom the mere passive receipt of welfare is failing, sometimes spectacularly, to actually make their lives better,” Mr Porter said.
The outcomes highlighted were particularly concerning for young carers, parents and students identified.
“Nobody wants to see a life spent in the welfare system from a very young age,” he said.
He said the key to creating better policy would be the $96 million Try, Test and Learn Fund, which would open by the end of the year.
It enables organisations to pitch ideas to create a path out of the welfare system.