Rev Dr Gordon Moyes The Superintendent Writes
A weekly column by Rev Dr Gordon Moyes, Superintendent of Wesley Mission.
2nd April, 2000

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1999 Superintendent Writes
Sunday, January 30th, 2000
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Sunday, March 26th, 2000

The “Interim Report”of the Welfare Reform Reference Group delivered this week is a good start to the restructuring of the Australian Social Welfare System. Wesley Mission welcomes many of the recommendations and have appointed a Task Force to respond to the “Interim Report”. This Task Force is headed by Dr. Keith Suter. Interested members of the parish may contact Dr. Suter about meeting times if they would like to make a personal submission.

The Welfare Reforms are aimed at enabling all Australians to participate fully in Australia’s social and economic life. This is a good country in which to live and we must ensure that all citizens have access to our benefits. For those who suffer from illness, infirmity, advanced age, disabilities and so on, there must be an appropriate safety net with income provisions that enables such people to live comfortably. Those who are dependent upon others by accident, illness or circumstance need to be supported at higher rates of pensions and benefits.

Over the last 35 years we have seen another group of people using the welfare system for their own benefit. These choose to live on government benefits, even though they do not belong to any disadvantaged group. They are often young, fit and healthy, but who choose to remain dependent upon the taxes paid by the rest of us. They develop a dependency mentality and they make little or no contribution to the common good. After a while they become so demotivated and desocialised that they are permanently dependent. The percentage of people totally dependent upon welfare has risen during this time from 5% to 22% of the total population.

Consequently the reforms are aimed at getting many of those people to choose to become independent rather than dependent. This will give them greater opportunities, higher self-esteem, bigger income and the satisfaction of knowing they are contributing to the common wealth. This will be done by incentives, planning programs, help with employment and skilling of people. However, some will remain recalcitrant and refuse to participate. They demand more benefits but reject any obligation to contribute to society. The reforms envisage these people will not have their demands met and will have their present support reduced to make them respond. There is no Christian reason why this should not happen. On the contrary, the Bible encourages personal participation, expects individual growth and contribution from all in society, unless they suffer from such disabilities that prevent participation. Wesley Mission welcome in its broadest terms the direction of the “Interim Report”.