Showing posts with label education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label education. Show all posts

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Quotes of the Week


“We’re a middle-of-the-road country with ambitions for change caught in a political culture that’s come to see its mission as preventing the future.” [Columnist David Marr writing in The Guardian, 21 August 2017]

“In addition to the obvious social benefits of having a highly skilled population, maximising training and educational attainment should be an uncontroversial policy aim. Yet the government imposes cuts to trades training, is underfunding school education, ramping up university fees and forcing those who get a degree to pay for it more quickly.” [Research Fellow at Per Capita Stephen Koukoulas writing about unemployment in Australia in The Guardian, 11 September 2017]

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Australian Human Rights Commission 2017, "Change The Course: National report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities


Change The Course: National Report On Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment At Australian Univerities, 2017:
Executive summary
At the request of Australia’s 39 universities, the Australian Human Rights Commission has conducted a national, independent survey of university students to gain greater insight into the nature, prevalence and reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities.
The National university student survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment (the National Survey) also examined the effectiveness of university services and policies that address sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus.
The request to conduct this survey follows decades of advocacy on the topic of sexual assault and sexual harassment at universities both within Australia and overseas.
The National Survey is the first of its kind and the first attempt to examine in detail the scale and the nature of the problem in Australia.
This work builds on the Commission’s extensive experience leading projects of this nature, including the Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force and conducting national workplace sexual harassment surveys for the past 12 years.
The National Survey measured the experiences of over 30,000 students across all 39 universities and collected information about:
* prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment among Australian university students in 2015 and 2016
* characteristics of people who experienced sexual assault and sexual harassment
* characteristics of perpetrators of sexual assault and sexual harassment
* settings where students experienced sexual assault and sexual harassment at university
* reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and
* students’ recommendations for change.
In addition to the quantitative data gathered via the National Survey, a vast amount of qualitative data was gathered through written submissions. The Commission accepted written submissions from 23 August 2016 to 2 December 2016 and received 1849 submissions in total.
This report outlines the findings of the National Survey, provides an analysis of the qualitative information received through the submissions, and makes recommendations for areas of action and reform.
Warning: This report contains detailed accounts of sexual assault and sexual harassment, including personal accounts from survivors, which some readers may find distressing.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Unique International College Pty Ltd could face multi-million-dollar fines


Yet another example of the Australian Government’s failed vocational education privatisation policy ……..

On 12 February 2016 Unique International College Pty Ltd had its membership of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training terminated – this was challenged by the company and that matter is still before the Supreme Court,

On 18 April 2017 Unique International College’s VET Provider Approval  was revoked.

At that point students who had been enrolled under VET in the college’s  Diploma of Management,  Advanced Diploma of Management, Diploma of Salon Management and Diploma of Marketing were liable for individual debts of up to $25,000.

By the time this ‘college’ came to the attention of the Australian Consumer Affairs Commission in 2015 its annual income after tax had reached $33.7 million.


It was alleged that Unique had targeted particular locations for enrolment purposes. These towns and cities were said to be situated in areas where inhabitants were generally people of lower socio-economic means and/or were comprised of a higher percentage of indigenous persons than the average eastern Australian town or city. These locations were said to include: Bankstown, Boggabilla, Bourke, Brewarrina, Emerton, Moree, Taree, Toomelah, Walgett, Wagga Wagga and Granville. At these locations it is then said that Unique conducted marketing operations by, inter alia, calling on consumers at their homes for the purpose of conducting group marketing activities. At these group marketing events, it is alleged that Unique’s staff told the attendees that its courses were free or free until they reached a particular level of income following completion of their chosen course. At the same time, free laptops were allegedly handed out to those who signed up. It is also alleged that the staff were on remuneration arrangements which were based on the number of students whom they were able to convince to enrol.

The Federal Court judgment found that:

The Applicants’ case was that Unique had a ‘system of conduct or pattern of behaviour’ within the meaning of s 21(4)(b) of the ACL. The four features of the Applicants’ case on this which I have accepted are:

(a) the strategy of targeting disadvantaged people by reference to indigeneity, remoteness and social disadvantage (whether deliberate in its original conception or not);
(b) the use of gifts of laptops or iPads to students signing (or loan computers after 31 March 2015);
(c) the use of incentives to staff to encourage them to sign up students; and
(d) the holding of sign-up meetings…..

The effect of the system in (b) to (d) was to supercharge the exploitation of the disadvantaged group which was being targeted (and also Unique’s remarkable profits). The system was unconscionable within the meaning of s 21.

ABC News reported the matter on 30 June 2017:

A private college in Sydney breached consumer law when it signed up thousands of students to loans without them knowing, the Federal Court has ruled.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took action against the Unique International College in Granville.

It alleged the training college, owned by Amarjit Singh, misled up to 3,600 people when it enrolled them in courses, giving them free laptops and telling them the class was free when in fact they were incurring VET FEE-HELP loans of up to $25,000.

The debt would be payable if they earned more than $54,126 per annum……

Judge Nye Perram found the college made false representations and engaged in a pattern of behaviour that amounted to unconscionable conduct in breach of Australian Consumer Law.

Mr Sims said it was a significant victory and the college could face multi-million-dollar fines.

"Our focus is now on ensuring that the affected customers will not remain in debt because of Unique's exploitative behaviour," he said.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Airbrushing the ugly underbelly of special religious education classes in state public schools


Government reports that review policies which interface education, religion and political ideology can be slippery creatures......

The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September 2016:

The findings and recommendations of a controversial $300,000 review of special religious education and ethics classes in schools has been kept under wraps by the NSW government for up to nine months.
The review was a recommendation of a 2012 upper house inquiry into ethics classes in NSW schools, which found they should be retained as an option for students who do not want to take part in special religious education.
The inquiry recommended the Department of Education publish the number of students taking part in ethics (SEE) and special religious education (SRE) classes, or neither, and that both types of class be reviewed in 2014-15.
The review, by ARTD Consultants, cost $295,988. Submissions closed on July 31 last year and the review was due for delivery to the NSW government shortly after the contract period ended on December 31…..
A spokesman for Mr Piccoli confirmed the cost of the review.
But he would not say when the report was handed to the government, whether a draft was first provided to the minister, when it would be released or when the government would respond…
A new enrolment form was later introduced that removed a clear choice between ethics and scripture by omitting a box that could be ticked by parents who wanted to enrol their children in ethics classes.
It came after documents obtained under freedom of information laws revealed religious groups blamed the introduction of ethics classes for falling participation in special religious education classes for the 2015 school year.
The NSW government's review of scripture in public schools deleted a section of a 2015 draft report showing children were exposed to lessons on the conservative Christian concept of "headship" – where women "submit" to their husbands – and negative messages on homosexuality.
When the Department of Education released a final report in April, after a 17-month delay, sections of the draft report that validated scripture opponents' concerns about the growing and unacknowledged influence of evangelical Christian groups in state schools were deleted or paraphrased.
The deleted sections included a primary school principal's difficulty obtaining evidence of working with children clearances from a special religious education (SRE) or scripture provider, and examples of children exposed to messages on gender and homosexuality that breached department guidelines…..
The draft ARTD Consultants report found an unidentified major Christian publisher's lesson material taught "the concept of 'headship' and that women should submit to their husbands, abstinence only sex education, negative LGBTI messages and that sexual intimacy is only acceptable to God between a married man and woman".
The Department of Education deleted the sentence and replaced it with the words: "The text also contained messages about sex education, which is not appropriate or the role of SRE"…..
The department deleted a section of the draft stating the conservative Sydney Anglican Diocese-backed Generate Ministries "has become a very influential player" in the delivery of secondary school SRE. The organisation was founded by Sydney Anglican Youthworks, Presbyterian Youth NSW, NSW Baptist Churches and Scripture Union NSW.
The department also deleted that "parents (and schools) appear to be largely unaware of the links their high school SRE teacher might have with Generate Ministries", and that the "influence" of third party groups "such as Generate Ministries on the delivery of SRE is currently unacknowledged".
It replaced the section with a sentence noting that the roles of boards, committees and "third party groups doing their human resource functions may not always be known or clear to parents", and without identifying Generate Ministries. 
Generate Ministries is governed by its founding partners, has at least 110 SRE "boards" and received $4 million in government funds in 2016 to provide chaplains in more than 200 NSW schools. Its website values include seeking to "be dependent on God" and "model courageous, entrepreneurial, servant-hearted leadership". 
The final ARTD Consultants report released in April noted some NSW school principals reported feeling "undue pressure" from a scripture provider, but the Department of Education deleted the draft report's naming of it as an Anglican provider…..
The final report retained a section of the draft showing a large Christian publisher's workbook in 2015 contained material that was "age-inappropriate and insensitive to children's welfare", with "negative passages" including that "cancer is a consequence of our sin and a gift from God" and that "we should die for our faith if necessary".
The ARTD report found the level of complaints about SRE was low but they were most often about lesson content. Parents were less satisfied than principals and scripture providers that complaints were handled appropriately.

BACKGROUND

NSW Dept. of Education, website as of 19 June 2017:

Review of Special Religious Education and Special Education in Ethics in NSW government schools
The 2015 Review of Special Religious Education (SRE) and Special Education in Ethics (SEE) in NSW Government Schools was conducted by ARTD Consultants.
The report makes 56 recommendations. 22 of the recommendations will be considered in consultation with the NSW Consultative Committee for SRE and NSW Consultative Committee for SEE. The department has responded to the remaining 34 recommendations. These are provided as separate documents.
Full report (PDF 2.96MB) [airbrushed report, dated 23 March 2016]*

* My annotation

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Is the National Vocational Education and Training System an abject failure?


In 2011 the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act came into being. It is administered by the Dept. of  Education and Training whose current minister is the Liberal Senator for South Australia, Simon Birmingham.


It wasn't too long before government-owned Technical and Further Education (TAFE) colleges/institutes across Australia began to complain they were being starved of funding and courses in order to feed this new education strategy and private ‘colleges’ began to multiply swiftly.

Every so often one of these dodgy private colleges hits the headlines and commentators tut-tut furiously and futilely.

However, most private VET service providers don’t rate much of a mention in mainstream media so the scale of this system failure is not readily apparent, except perhaps to the many thousands of fee-paying students affected.

This is a short and incomplete list of some of the more recent private-sector failures to provide quality further education and vocational training:

ASA (Australian Sports Academy) Pty Ltd, terminated for providing incorrect information in the application.
Australian Vocational Training Academy Pty Ltd, terminated for: failure to provide compliant Training and Assessment Strategies, non-compliance with record keeping requirements; and failure to provide records and evidence to the Department upon request.
Careers Australia Education Institute Pty Ltd, terminated for: failure to properly train and assess students in accordance with training package requirements, non-compliance with record keeping and failure to provide records and evidence upon request.
Careers Australia Institute of Training Pty Ltd, terminated for: failure to properly train and assess students in accordance with training package requirements, non-compliance with record keeping and failure to provide records and evidence upon request. Careers Australia group now in voluntary administration
Industry Education and Training Services Pty Ltd, terminated for: providing incorrect information in the application.
Seluna Pty Ltd, terminated for: failure to comply with training and assessment requirements of the VET Quality Framework, and submitting training activity and receiving subsidies for learners where there was no evidence of commencement.
Western Institute of Technology Pty Ltd, terminated for: providing incorrect information in the application.
Wise Education Group Pty Ltd, terminated for: failure to meet Standards for RTOs 2015 and non-compliance with record keeping requirements.
Group314 Pty Ltd, terminated for: Termination of S and S due to previous termination of APL; and,
Donna Mere Morrell-Pullin, terminated for: providing incorrect information in the application. [my red annotation]

Conwal and Associates Pty Ltd, non-compliant with the requirements of the VET Quality Framework, registration cancelled
Online Courses Australia Pty Ltd, non-compliant with the requirements of the VET Quality Framework. registration cancelled
Australian Vocational Learning Institute, non-compliant with the requirements of the VET Quality Framework. registration cancelled
 Clover Educations trading as Cool Body Institute of Massage, not operated consistently with the applicable requirements of the VET Quality Framework, registration cancelled
AITE Pty Ltd Australian Institute of Technical Education, not operated consistently with the applicable requirements of the VET Quality Framework, registration cancelled
Get Qualified Australia-Adelaide Pty Ltd trading as Get Qualified Australia Trades Academy and Get Qualified Trades Academy, not operated consistently with the applicable requirements of the VET Quality Framework, registration cancelled
Get Qualified Australia-Canberra Pty Ltd trading as Get Qualified Australia College, not operated consistently with the applicable requirements of the VET Quality Framework, registration cancelled
Get Qualified Australia-Brisbane Pty Ltd trading as Get Qualified Australia Institute, not operated consistently with the applicable requirements of the VET Quality Framework, registration cancelled
CTM Training Solutions Pty Ltd, VET services registration cancelled
Green Pty Ltd trading as Green Training, VET services registration cancelled
Switch On Learning Pty Ltd trading as Australian Institute of Technology & Trade, VET services registration cancelled
Australian Tertiary Academy Pty Ltd, VET services registration cancelled
Equalis Pty Ltd trading as Equalis, VET services registration cancelled
Amana International Training Academy Pty Ltd trading as Zenith Education & Training, VET services registration cancelled
ASCET Institute of Technology, critically and systematically non-compliant with the requirements of the vocational education and training (VET) quality framework, registration cancelled
5 Star Training Institute Pty Ltd, VET services registration cancelled
AJK Image Pty Ltd as trustee for The Nicole Kratzmann Family Trust trading as AKISS (Advanced Knowledge in Skin Science), VET services registration cancelled
Australia-Wide Business Training Pty Ltd, VET services registration cancelled
Childs Training Pty Ltd as the trustee for the Childs Family Trust trading as Quality Unlimited, VET services registration cancelled
Clear Fountain Pty Ltd trading as NITE School and Nationwide Instructors, Trainers and Educators, VET services registration cancelled
DJ Howle Pty Ltd trading as Onsite Training Services, VET services registration cancelled
Entertrain Institute of Technology Pty Ltd trading as Entertain Interactive Pty Ltd, VET services registration cancelled
Excellent Training Institute Pty Ltd, VET services registration cancelled
June Dally-Watkins Pty Ltd, VET services registration cancelled
Master Group (Aust.) Pty Ltd trading as Master Group, VET services registration cancelled
Optimal Progression Pty Ltd, VET services registration cancelled
Todd Rutherford trading as Drilling Skills Australia, VET services registration cancelled
Aus-Com Training Services Pty Ltd trading as Aus-Com Training Services, VET services registration cancelled
Ausietech Investments Pty Ltd trading as Australian College of Management & Technology)
Professional Training College Pty Ltd, VET services registration cancelled
Nailtech Training Pty Ltd, VET services registration cancelled
Project Management Partners Pty Ltd, VET services registration cancelled
[See latest regulatory decisions of Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)

Gurkhas Institute of Technology Pty Ltd, registration cancelled
DIY Training Services Pty Ltd, registration cancelled
Get Qualified Australia-Adelaide Pty Ltd trading as Get Qualified Australia Trades Academy and Get Qualified Trades Academy, registration cancelled
Sage Academy Training Pty Ltd, registration cancelled
Premier Training Institute Pty Ltd, registration cancelled
Safety and First Aid Education Pty Ltd, registration cancelled

Full list of Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) decisions.

And Australia wonders why it has a skills shortage?


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A university education and a highly paid job the road to home ownership in Australia for the masses?


The Turnbull Government’s tin ear was on full display in The Sydney Morning  Herald on 21 February 2017:

The Coalition MP tasked with tackling Australia's housing affordability problems has said a "highly paid job" is the "first step" to owning a home.

The federal Victorian MP Michael Sukkar, who is the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer and has been charged with finding solutions to the country's housing affordability woes, also pointed to his own experience in purchasing two properties by the age of 35 as an example to struggling homebuyers. 

"We're also enabling young people to get highly paid jobs which is the first step to buying a house, it's not the only answer but it's the first step," Mr Sukkar told Sky News on Monday night.

"I want to see young people like me, leave university, I was a terrible university student but I left university because the economy was so good, I got a great start and I was able to forge a career," he said.

The Liberal MP for Deakin since September 2013 and Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, 35 year-old Michael Sven Sukkar LLB, BComm (Deakin), LLM (Melb), who apparently walked straight into well-paying employment at PricewaterhouseCoopers after leaving university and eleven years later owns his own home in Blackburn and a residence in Canberra after selling a second investment property in Fitzroy.

Conveniently the Australian taxpayer is assisting Mr. Sukkar with the mortgage on the possibly negatively geared Canberra property by supplying him with $273.00 for every night he stays in his own residence while parliament is sitting – an est. $11,466 for the 2017 calendar year alone.

Even at a stretch, married to a professionally qualified wife with a business partnership in a multinational firm, Michael Sukkar’s economic progress though life is hardly typical of a couple seeking to buy their first home.

However, typically of a member of the Liberal Party he assumes almost everyone can be fortunate enough to have small business owners as parents, a good education and a well-paying job before securing a parliamentary seat with an excellent superannuation plan.

According to They Vote For You during his almost three and a half years in the Australian Parliament Michael Sukkar has voted for:


And voted against:


Friday, 10 February 2017

Not content with last year's omnibus bill, Turnbull unleashed his inner b@stard on the poor again in 2017


Pick a paragraph, almost any paragraph - if you are from a working class family someone you care about is likely to find themselves affected.

The First Omnibus Bill……

Turnbull Government, Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016 as passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate on 15 September 2016, assented to 16 September 2016:

Summary
Amends:
the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to establish a minimum repayment threshold for HELP debts of two per cent when a person’s income reaches $51 957 from the 2018-19 financial year; and replace the Higher Education Grants Index with the consumer price index for the purposes of indexing all grants and regulated student contribution amounts; the Higher Education Support Act 2003 and Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to discontinue the HECS-HELP benefit from 1 July 2017;
the Social Security Act 1991Social Security (Administration) Act 1999Farm Household Support Act 2014 and Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to discontinue the job commitment bonus;
the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011 to reduce the agency’s available appropriation;
the Private Health Insurance Act 2007 to pause the income thresholds for the Medicare levy surcharge and the government rebate on private health insurance for a further three years from 1 July 2018;
the National Health Reform Act 2011 to abolish the National Health Performance Authority; the Aged Care Act 1997 to: increase the secretary’s compliance powers in relation to reviews of care recipient appraisals submitted by aged care providers to receive Commonwealth subsidies;
abolish adviser and administrator panel arrangements; and require approved providers to notify the secretary of certain changes to any key personnel in certain circumstances;
the Age Discrimination Act 2004Dental Benefits Act 2008 and Human Services (Medicare) Act 1973 to close the Child Dental Benefits Schedule from 31 December 2016 and establish the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme from 1 January 2017;
the Social Security Act 1991Social Security Legislation Amendment (Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Periods and Other Measures) Act 1997 and Farm Household Support Act 2014 to remove the exemption from the 104 week newly arrived resident’s waiting period for new migrants who are family members of Australian citizens or long-term permanent residents;
the Social Security Act 1991Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 and Student Assistance Act 1973 to cease the student start-up scholarship payment from 1 July 2017;
five Acts to apply an interest charge to outstanding debts owed by former recipients of social welfare payments who have failed to enter into, or have not complied with, an acceptable repayment arrangement;
five Acts to enable the making of departure prohibition orders to prevent certain social welfare debtors from leaving the country;
the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999Paid Parental Leave Act 2010Social Security Act 1991 and Student Assistance Act 1973 to remove the six-year limit on welfare debt recovery; the Social Security Act 1991 and Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 to provide that parental leave payments and dad and partner pay payments are included in the income test for income support payments;
the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 and Social Security Act 1991 to change the way fringe benefits are treated under the income tests for family assistance and youth income support payments and for related purposes; the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 to align carer allowance and carer payment start day provisions;
the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 and Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 to pause indexation for family tax benefit (FTB) Part A, the primary earner income limit for FTB Part B and the Paid Parental Leave income limit for a further three years from 1 July 2017;
the Social Security Act 1991 and Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 to remove the pension income and assets test exemptions currently available to pensioners in aged care who rent out their former home and pay their aged care accommodation costs by periodic payments;
the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 and Social Security Act 1991 to remove the exemption from the income test for FTB Part A recipients and the exemption from the parental income test for certain dependent young people receiving youth allowance and ABSTUDY living allowance;
the Social Security Act 1991 to provide that certain persons cannot be paid social security payments when they are in psychiatric confinement because they have been charged with a serious offence;
six Acts to prevent new recipients of welfare payments or concession cards from being paid the energy supplement from 20 March 2017;
the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to reduce the refundable and non-refundable rates of the tax offset available under the research and development tax incentive for the first $100 million of eligible expenditure;
six Acts to require larger entities to provide payroll and superannuation information at the time it is created through the single touch payroll reporting framework; and
the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 to create a single appeal path for the review of original determinations made by the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.

The Second Omnibus Bill……

Turnbull Government, Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017, presented in the House of Representatives, 8 February 2017:

A Bill for an Act to amend the law relating to family assistance, social security, paid parental leave, veterans’ entitlements, military rehabilitation and compensation and farm household support, and for related purposes


This bill contains the following Schedules:
1. Payment rates
The family tax benefit Part A standard fortnightly rate will be increased by $20.02 for each FTB child in the family aged up to 19. An equivalent rate increase, of around $19.37 per fortnight, will apply to youth allowance and disability support pension recipients aged under 18 and living at home. These increases will apply from 1 July 2018.
2. Family tax benefits Part B rate
From 1 July 2017, the Bill will introduce a reform to family tax benefit Part B that removes entitlement to FTB Part B for single parent families who are not single parents aged 60 or more or grandparents or great-grandparents, from 1 January of the calendar year their youngest child turns 17.
3. Family tax benefit supplements
This Schedule will phase out the family tax benefit Part A supplement for families with an adjusted taxable income of $80,000 a year or less by reducing it to $602.25 a year from 1 July 2016, and to $302.95 a year from 1 July 2017. It will then be withdrawn from 1 July 2018. The family tax benefit Part A supplement has already been withdrawn for families with an adjusted taxable income over $80,000 a year under the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Act 2016. The family tax benefit Part B supplement will also be phased out. It will be reduced to $302.95 a year from 1 July 2016, and to $153.30 a year from 1 July 2017. It will then be withdrawn from 1 July 2018.
4. Jobs for Families Child Care Package
The purpose of Schedule 4 is to introduce key aspects of the Jobs for Families Child Care Package, as announced in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 Budget. The Schedule will, through the introduction of a new Child Care Subsidy and other enhancements, deliver a simpler, more affordable, more flexible and more accessible child care system for families.
5. Proportional payments of pensions outside Australia
This Schedule reduces from 26 weeks to six weeks the period during which age pension, and a small number of other payments with unlimited portability, can be paid outside Australia at the basic means-tested rate. 4 After six weeks, payment will be adjusted according to the length of the pensioner’s Australian working life residence.
6. Pensioner education supplement
This Schedule ceases pensioner education supplement from the first 1 January or 1 July after the day the Act receives Royal Assent.
7. Education entry payment
This measure ceases the education entry payment from the first 1 January or 1 July after the Act receives Royal Assent.
8. Indexation
This Schedule implements the following changes to Australian Government payments:
· maintain at level for three years from 1 July of the first financial year beginning on or after the day this Act receives Royal Assent the income free areas for all working age allowances (other than student payments) and for parenting payment single; and
· maintain at level for three years from 1 January of the first calendar year beginning on or after the day this Act receives Royal Assent the income free areas and other means test thresholds for student payments, including the student income bank limits.
9. Close the energy supplement to new welfare recipients
This Schedule ceases, from 20 September 2017, payment of the energy supplement to recipients who were not receiving a welfare payment on 19 September 2016 and closes the energy supplement to new welfare recipients from 20 September 2017.
10.Stopping the payment of pension supplement after six weeks overseas
This Schedule will stop the payment of pension supplement after six weeks temporary absence overseas and immediately for permanent departures.
11.Automation of income stream review processes
This Schedule will allow for the automation of the regular income stream review process by enabling the Secretary to require income stream providers to transfer a dataset to the Department of Human Services (DHS) on a regular basis. 5
12.Seasonal horticultural work income exemption
Schedule 12 to the Bill provides a social security income test incentive aimed at increasing the number of job seekers who undertake specified seasonal horticultural work, such as fruit picking.
13.Ordinary waiting periods
This Schedule makes amendments to extend and simplify the ordinary waiting period for working age payments.
14.Age requirements for various Commonwealth payments
This Schedule provides that young unemployed people aged 22 to 24 would no longer be eligible for newstart allowance or sickness allowance until they turn 25 years of age and would, instead, be able to claim and qualify for youth allowance. To enable this, youth allowance for all types of people who can satisfy the activity test, will be available to people who have not yet reached 25.
15.Income support waiting periods
This Schedule introduces a four-week waiting period, for job ready young people who are looking for work, to receive income support payments. During this fourweek period, job seekers under 25 years of age who have been classified as job ready (Stream A) by the Job Seeker Classification Instrument will also be required to complete assigned activities, through a new program, RapidConnect Plus, that will help them prepare for and find work.
16.Other waiting period amendments (Rapid Activation of young job seekers)
This Schedule implements the Rapid Activation of young job seekers 2015-16 Budget measure.
17.Adjustments for Primary Carer Pay
This and the following Schedule introduce the revised arrangements for the Paid Parental Leave scheme announced in the 2015-16 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook and previously introduced in the Fairer Paid Parental Leave Bill 2016, which will now be withdrawn. The measure is changed in that the maximum PPL period for which a person may be paid parental leave pay is increased from the current 18 weeks to 20 weeks. The measure will commence on the first 1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 October that is 9 months after the date the Act receives royal assent, with an earliest commencement date of 1 January 2018.
18.Employer Opt-In (PPL) Schedule
18 removes the employer paymaster role in administering the Paid Parental Leave scheme.

Australian Financial Review graphic, 9 February 2017:


A Plea to see reason……

Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), media release, 8 February 2017:

ACOSS urges Parliament to reject latest attempt to cut incomes of poorest in new Omnibus Bill

ACOSS today urged the Federal Parliament to stand firm against measures in the new Government Omnibus Bill that will cut the incomes of some of the poorest people, including families, to fund child care reforms.

“This is the latest attempt by the Government to push through harsh cuts that will rip $7 billion from the social security budget. It includes previously rejected ‘zombie’ measures, such as the five-week wait for unemployment payments, further cuts to family payments, and abolition of the energy supplement, which will slash the incomes of two million future recipients of income support,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“The so-called concessions the Government has made will be wiped out by other changes in the Bill, leaving many low-income people worse off.

“Of course we all want greater support for families to get better quality childcare but it cannot be funded on the backs of some of the most disadvantaged people in our country.

“This is not the way to build a strong community – caring for each other through all stages of our lives has served our nation well. This new bill risks weakening our social fabric.

“The increase to the Family Tax Benefit Part A for families with children by $10 a week does not make up for cuts to the supplements. A sole parent with two children aged 13 and 15 will still lose between $14 and $20 per week, or around $1,000 a year.

“Although this is less of a hit than under the previous proposal, it will still severely impact single parents, most of whom are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and feed their children as well as provide for them in the new school year.

“We are concerned the new Bill also includes unfair measures previously and repeatedly rejected by Federal Parliament and the broader community, such as making young people who become unemployed wait five weeks to receive income support.  This measure will not create jobs and merely punishes people who lose one.

“Abolishing the energy supplement will cut between $4-$7 a week from people on the lowest incomes, including pensioners, students, families, and people locked out of paid work.

“We have been consistent in our opposition to any watering down of paid parental leave and oppose any weakening of the current system, which currently ranks second to last in the OECD.

“This zombie Bill would only serve to increase poverty and inequality in Australia and Parliament must reject it,” Dr Goldie said.

More information on ‘zombie’ measures: