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Volunteering Australia have provided a response to the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Payment Integrity) Bill 2017.
Volunteering Australia’s submission focuses on Schedule 1 and 2 of the Bill, which seek to enhance the residency criteria for the Age Pension and Disability Support Pension (DSP), and stop the payment of the pension supplement after six weeks overseas.
This bill currently before the Australian Parliament aims to amend the current Social Security Act 1991 for residency requirements for the age pension and the disability support pension by changing certain timeframes which need to be met before claims will be deemed payable to eligible recipients; and increase the maximum liquid assets waiting period for youth allowance, austudy, newstart allowance and sick allowance from 13 weeks to 26 weeks; Social Security Act 1991 and Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 to cease payment of the pension supplement after six weeks temporary absence overseas and immediately for permanent departures; and A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 to align the income test taper rates so that all income above the higher income free area is treated equally when calculating an individual’s rate of family tax benefit Part A.
Summary of recommendations by Volunteering Australia:
- Schedule 1 (Enhanced residency requirements for pensioners) is not be passed
- The Committee does not pass Schedule 2 (Stopping payment of pension supplement after six weeks overseas), given the detrimental effects that ceasing payments will have on welfare recipients
- The Committee recognise the value of Australia's voluntary contributions (social, economic, and cultural) in providing a reasonable connection to the country, and ensure that this contribution is valued equally with that of paid workers
- The Committee does not pass this Bill in it's current form.
Volunteering Australia thanks the Committee for the opportunity to provide comment on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Payment Integrity) Bill 2017. They reiterate our opposition to Schedule 1 and 2 of this Bill, and recommends to the Committee that it should not be passed, given the profound effect it will have on the target group. We suggest that the Committee contemplate the value of volunteering when considering whether to pass these Schedules. They are committed to working with the relevant agencies to promote the economic, social, and cultural value of volunteering in the community. Volunteering extends to every sector in society, including the arts, education, emergency services, sports, environment, health, aged care, disability, and community welfare. It has woven itself into the fabric of everyday life, and Australian society is increasingly dependent on volunteering activities and programs.
Volunteering Australia would welcome further opportunity to consult or expand on any recommendations raised in this response.