B. Implementation of certain Australians Working Together Measures
28 April 2003 and ongoing – Working Credit (delayed from 20 September 2002)
1 July 2003 – Community Business Engagement funding for the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership (delayed from 1 July 2002)
1 July 2003 to 30 June 2005 – Interim evaluation of the AWT package (delayed from July 2002)
1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004 – Additional Communication and Consultation
1 September 2003 to June 2005 – Improved Information Technology (delayed from September 2002)
The Government has rescheduled the implementation of a small number of 2001–02 Budget measures in the Australians Working Together (AWT) package to better ensure their successful implementation and effectiveness. All other AWT measures will be implemented at the times originally announced.
The Working Credit will be deferred to 28 April 2003. The deferral is part of a wider strategy to ensure people understand the measure and are able to take full advantage of it.
The deferral of Improved Information Technology (IT) will ensure an appropriate level of service that will improve participation opportunities for people on income support. Deferred introduction will also ensure a more comprehensive assessment of customer need and the impact on existing IT support systems.
Reprofiling the funding for the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership will better integrate the work of the partnership with other developing business and community initiatives.
Better aligning the timing of evaluation activities with the implementation of the AWT package will ensure the evaluation captures the full impact of the measures and will allow for more community input to the evaluation.
Additional funds are being provided for communication and consultation to ensure appropriate community input to the evaluation of AWT and to ensure better understanding of Working Credit.
The AWT package is the first step in the long-term process of welfare reform.
Community consultations on AWT, conducted last year, provided the Government with sound advice about ensuring there is a smooth implementation of AWT. The consultations found that:
- Working Credit is a very popular measure, but many customers expressed concerns that it is difficult for some people to understand. Working Credit will now start on 28 April 2003. This will allow a trial of the technology and provide sufficient time for customers to learn more about how the change will affect them so customers accurately report their earnings when they need to;
- deferral of Improved Information Technology allows a greater opportunity to conduct a more comprehensive study of what is required to improve available and relevant interventions for customers. The deferral will ensure that an effective information exchange mechanism is implemented, which reflects the needs of all stakeholders in the new system (ie customers, service providers and Government);
- many people wanted business to play a bigger role in welfare reform. A broader strategy is now being developed to encourage business engagement – in addition to the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership. The Department of Family and Community Services will be undertaking further work on triple bottom line (economic, social and environmental) reporting, reviewing employer incentives and facilitating disability employer forums; and
- the evaluation of AWT needs to be properly conducted. The AWT interim evaluation has been rescheduled to allow more time after initial implementation to assess how well the AWT measures are working. Ongoing community participation in evaluating AWT will also be adopted – and additional funds have been provided for that.