The Rudd Government will aim to avoid unnecessary and costly social security litigation and ensure greater transparency in decisions when considering whether to appeal cases.
The circumstances of income recipients will also be considered before appealing social security matters.
The Minister for Employment Participation, Brendan O’Connor, today welcomed a report into the handling of social security appeals and accepted the reports recommendations.
Mr O’Connor commissioned a review of the former Department of Employment and Workplace Relation’s (DEWR) administration of appeals following claims it was pursuing litigation against welfare recipients for minor errors in social security payments.
Secretary of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), Lisa Paul, chaired a steering committee that undertook the review.
The report makes six recommendations including:
- Establishing an on-going dialogue between DEEWR, Centrelink, National Legal Aid and National Welfare Rights Network about litigation cases;
- The introduction of four new Principles when determining whether to appeal decisions made under social security law including having regard to the circumstances of the recipient and providing a transparent and fair appeals process to guide DEEWR;
- Making the Principles publicly available in a bid to increase DEEWR’s transparency in decision making; and
- The steering committee to reflect on the experience of DEEWR’s litigation appeals six months following the report release.
The report found the former DEWR withdrew 62 per cent of cases appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal 2006-07.
Further investigation of withdrawn cases found that 80 per cent related to the Disability Support Pension.
The Minister for Human Services, Joe Ludwig, is currently undertaking a review of the Job Capacity Assessment processes to see how services can better meet the needs of people with barriers to work.
The review committee included representatives from the National Welfare Rights Network, National Legal Aid, the Attorney General’s Department and Centrelink.
The review examined the most effective way to guide future decisions about appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and Federal Court, while preserving incentives for participation in education and employment activities.
The full reportis available at www.workplace.gov.au/workplace/Publications/PolicyReviews