12 March 2007

University of Queensland research is trying to uncover the true cost of the Federal Government’s Welfare to Work policy.

A team of researchers from the Social Policy Unit, School of Social Work and Applied Human Sciences are studying the impact the welfare reforms will have on state governments.

“What we are seeing since the Federal Government introduced the Welfare to Work initiative is a cost shifting to the States and non government organisations,” Director of the Social Policy Unit Dr Greg Marston said.

“These groups are expected to pick up any shortfall from people who experience an income drop because of the reforms and what we are trying to measure is what impact that will have on organisations and the Queensland population.”

Dr Marston said people who were most vulnerable under the reforms were those with an undiagnosed mental illness; people who lose their Centrelink payment for eight weeks for failing to comply with the new rules and requirements; and those needing housing assistance and emergency relief .

He said initially the research would concentrate on Queensland as the project was supported by the Queensland Government, but interest was coming from unexpected quarters.

“We had a meeting with the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Work & Pensions recently who was very interested in this type of research,” he said.

“And we are sure the other state governments around Australia will like to see the results.

“Queensland will be one of the most affected states though, considering we have the highest rate of single parents in the country and the second highest rate of people on the disabled pension.

“We really want to highlight the unforseen and unanticipated effects of this policy and how it will affect the service policy options of the States.”

Media inquiries: Dr Greg Marston (3365 3024) or Andrew Dunne at UQ Communications (3365 2802 or 0433 364 181).