The adequacy and targeting of income support – and the impact of conditions imposed on people who receive it – are key topics in working for an Australia free of poverty.
Australia’s current social security system is ill equipped to respond to the technological, demographic, environmental and geopolitical challenges we face.
It is time to reclaim the right to social security. We propose five principles to guide and underpin our social security system so that it contributes to a just, fair and compassionate society.
A strong, fair and supportive system of social protection is the precondition for a just and compassionate society, and the foundation of every open, inclusive and stable democracy. A principled approach to social security is also a precondition for economic productivity and social mobility.
To tackle the intersecting issues of economic insecurity, the changing nature of work, technological change, environmental crisis and the loss of trust in institutions requires a principled approach.
Principles to guide social security – We propose five interrelated and indivisible principles:
- Adequacy: Economic security is a human right and a precondition for wellbeing (International Labour Organization 2012).
- Dignity and autonomy: Individual dignity and autonomy are fundamental to human rights.
- Equity: An equitable system is fair and impartial.
- Accountability: Accountability is reciprocal. For too long, the concept of reciprocity has focused on the obligations of those receiving income support payments, rather than also recognising the obligations of government.
- Solidarity: Social security provides a safety net for all of us.
SOURCE: Dina Bowman, Danielle Thornton and Shelley Mallett . “Reclaiming social security for a just future: a principled approach to reform.” Research & Policy Centre. Brotherhood of St Laurence, 2019.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia