Catherine Yeomans CEO Mission Australia, in response to Social Services Minister Christian Porter’s Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare announced today said:

“We welcome any initiatives that support unemployed people into work and to transition to independence. We are pleased young people are included in this modelling because they are our future and we must give them the best chance to overcome any barriers limiting their entry into work.

“We welcome a long-term model for funding and evaluating services. Assessing the potential costs of a lifetime of welfare dependency and then investing upfront in programs will have benefits to people in need and to taxpayers.

“But, we shouldn’t fall into the trap of relying solely on an actuarial model to assess whether programs are successful or which programs are funded.

“The government needs to take account of the other costs – like young people entering the justice system or being admitted to hospital. Mission Australia knows from our own research of homeless services that the biggest savings come from reducing these costs, not from reducing welfare payments. These costs should not just be shifted to the states.

“Interventions need to be tailored to the needs of these high risk groups including young people released from detention. Mission Australia has had demonstrated success with employment programs for these young people through UTurn (Tasmania) and WorkOut (Victoria).

“We know that to realise the best outcomes for clients there needs to be flexibility to the approach and an upfront commitment to long-term funding. Young people should also be involved in the program design and evaluation.

“We must also be wary of churning young people through the system in order to have short-term accounting wins. We need to have sustainable outcomes that improve the young person’s wellbeing by giving the skills and support for ongoing employment opportunities so the interventions improve lives as well as the bottom line.

“We’re looking forward to working with the government on this.”

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