Daily News - Tuesday 10 March 2015

Posted 10 March 2015 4:07pm
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Welfare systems face $1bn upgrade

Phillip Hudson & Joe Kelly - The Australian

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison has declared there would be near-immediate savings and more effective service delivery arising from the replacement of an antediluvian 1980s era Centrelink computer that poses a new impediment to welfare reform.

Federal cabinet is currently considering replacing the system in a move estimated to cost about $1bn with The Australian revealing today that changing a letter for social security payments takes 100 public servants six months at a cost of $500,000.

Centrelink’s “Income Security Integrated System” which handles $100bn worth of payments each year runs on a Model 204 mainframe considered to be too cumbersome to cope with the overhaul of the payments system proposed by welfare reformer Patrick McClure.

Mr Morrison and Human Services Minister Marise Payne are pushing for funding in the May budget to replace the outdated system.

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Volunteer NFPs Target Morrison

Pro Bono Australia

Angry volunteer organisations have sent strong letters of complaint to Federal Social Services Minister Scott Morrison demanding answers on recent grant funding processes, claiming serious long term impacts on the sector.

Peak body, Volunteering Victoria, wrote to Minister Morrison saying it was extremely disappointed with the recent tender process, in which grants for the volunteering sector were limited to Volunteering Australia and did not include state peak services, small-scale volunteer support services or one-off grants for innovative projects.

“We have serious concerns about the process and outcomes to date, and the long term impact on the volunteering sector, people experiencing disadvantage, the broader community, and the NFP organisations that support those people and the community,” Chief Executive Officer Sue Noble said.

It is understood that Whittlesea Community Connections and Volunteer Service Network have sent similar letters to the Federal Minister.

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Indigenous services plead with federal government to rethink cuts

The Guardian

The social services sector is pleading with the federal government to stop the cuts to Indigenous organisations as frontline services continue to reel at the extent of funding losses through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

The Indigenous affairs minister, Nigel Scullion, announced last week that more than $680m in grants had been assigned to 964 organisations to run 1,297 programs under the strategy. The IAS is the result of more than half a billion dollars in cuts in the 2014 budget, and consolidates more than 150 Indigenous affairs programs and policies into five broad areas.

Guardian Australia has spoken with numerous organisations who have lost all funding, had their usual annual budgets cut or had their budgets renewed at the same levels for 12 to 18 months.

The chief adviser on Indigenous affairs, Warren Mundine, told the ABC there were $8bn worth of applications so he was “not surprised” that many missed out.

Wendy Morton, executive director of the Northern Territory Council of Social Services, said the sector was “probably the most uncertain it has ever been” during her 10 years at the council.

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Australia should think twice before adopting NZ welfare model

Michael Fletcher - The Conversation

The McClure review of Australia’s welfare system, whose final report the federal government recently released, proposed an “investment approach” to welfare. This approach was taken explicitly from reforms in New Zealand that were introduced in 2012 and 2013.

The aim of the investment approach is to estimate likely lifetime benefit costs for everyone on welfare – the so-called “future liability” – and then target resources at those groups who represent the highest future liability.

The review’s chair, Patrick McClure, enthusiastically promoted the New Zealand approach:

We also talk about and recommend an investment approach. This is based on a New Zealand model that’s been very successful – one, in getting people into jobs, but also in making considerable savings over the longer term.
However, the claim that the NZ investment approach has been “very successful” is at best unproven. Arguably, it is plain wrong.

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