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Social Services Legislation Amendment (Encouraging Self-sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants) Bill 2018

The submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee in relation to its inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Encouraging Self-sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants) Bill 2018 was prepared by the Law Council. The Law Council is grateful for the assistance of the Law Institute of Victoria in the preparation of this submission.

The Bill proposes to introduce the following measures:

(a) increase existing newly arrived resident’s waiting periods and introduce a newly arrived resident’s waiting period for carer allowance, bereavement allowance, widow allowance and parenting payment;
(b) increase existing newly arrived resident’s waiting periods for farm household allowance;
(c) introduce a newly arrived resident’s waiting period for family tax benefit; and
(d) introduce a newly arrived resident’s waiting period for parental leave pay and dad and partner pay.

Under the proposed scheme, the waiting period for each of the above payment schemes will be 156 weeks. In the case of some benefits, this is an increase from an existing 104 week waiting period, in others this will be a newly introduced waiting period.

The proposed measures contain various exemptions from the prospective waiting periods, including exemptions for humanitarian entrants and their families and exemptions for newly arrived migrants that have experienced a change in circumstances after becoming an Australian resident and are no longer able to support themselves as intended.

It is submitted that these are significant changes, with the potential to impact on the financial circumstances of many newly arrived migrants in Australia. With this in mind, the Law Council is concerned with the short timeframe the Committee has been provided in which to consider the Bill, noting that stakeholders have been provided minimal time in which to provide input to the proposed measures.

Upon review of the Bill, the Law Council has several concerns with the proposals contained in the Bill. These can be summarised as follows:

(a) the consistency between the stated objectives of the Bill and the likely effects of the proposed measures;
(b) the compatibility of the proposed measures with a range of human rights obligations; and
(c) the impact of the reforms on the newly arrived migrant population.

You can read the full submission below.

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