Review of Australia’s Welfare System

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The Australian Government released the Final Report into the review of Australia’s welfare system, A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes on 25 February 2015. The review’s purpose has been to identify how to make Australia’s welfare system fairer, more effective, coherent and sustainable and encourage people to work.

A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes Final Report is available at:

Minister’s Media Release

About the review

The Australian Government makes a range of payments to individuals and families to provide support at times when individuals cannot support themselves or to assist with certain costs, such as those of raising children.

Over the past decade Australia’s welfare system has grown relentlessly and become unsustainable.

In December 2013, the Australian Government commissioned a review by an independent Reference Group, comprising Mr Patrick McClure AO (Chair), Ms Sally Sinclair and Mr Wesley Aird.

The Reference Group was asked to advise the Australian Government on how Australia’s welfare system can:

  • provide incentives to work for those who are able to work
  • adequately support those who are genuinely not able to work
  • support social and economic participation through measures that build individual and family capability
  • be affordable and sustainable both now and in the future and across economic cycles
  • be easy to access and understand, and able to be delivered efficiently and effectively.

The Reference Group looked at the broad range of payments and services available for people of working age, and considered whether they support people to participate in work in line with their capacity.

While the focus has been on payments for working age people, the Reference Group considered issues that affect all payments, such as indexation. The Reference Group also considered how possible changes to payments within scope may impact on other payments.

The Reference Group’s Interim Report - A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes was released on 29 June 2014.

The Interim Report documents are available to view and download.

The Interim Report proposes four pillars of reform.

  • Simpler and sustainable income support system
  • Strengthening individual and family capability
  • Engaging with employers
  • Building community capacity.

The Reference Group sought feedback on its Interim Report to help inform the development of its Final Report to the Minister for Social Services.

The Reference Group undertook a six week period of public consultation which included a call for public submissions and online comments and the hosting of roundtables with key stakeholders in capital cities on the future directions and questions identified in the Interim Report.

The Reference Group received a total of 271 public submissions from individuals and organisations. The Reference Group also received a total of 231 public comments (of up to 500 words) from individuals.

Thirteen individual roundtables were held with a total of 175 representatives from key stakeholder organisations in all capital cities and in Cairns during July and August 2014. For a list of these organisations and representatives, visit the stakeholder consultation page.

Five individual customer roundtables were also held with a range of over 50 income support payment customers in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne during August 2014.  The five customer groups were: sole parents; jobseekers; carers; students; and people with a disability.

Subsequently, the Final Report – A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes was released on 25 February 2015.

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