Australia mulls new plan to get unemployed youths out of welfare cycle

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CANBERRA, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) — Unemployed Australian teenagers could be given a government “welfare card” instead of cash payments in order to help them break out of the welfare cycle, the nation’s Human Services Minister said today.

Following last week’s government announcement of a radical overhaul of the nation’s welfare system, Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said the government would consider a new program for those who are on welfare and are under 18 years of age, which would involve a welfare debit card and informative budgeting courses.

The welfare cards would have less accessible money compared with traditional cash payments, and would pay bills such as rent, power and water directly.

Currently, Australian youths on welfare receive up to USD335 fortnightly, but there is no guarantee it is spent on vital bills. Under the welfare card plan, the money would be locked away and debited directly, leaving a smaller amount for personal use.

Tudge said the New Zealand-style welfare cards, budgeting courses and further government incentives to enter the full-time workforce would also be offered, in an effort to get young Australians off welfare earlier in their lives.

“It is an interesting model which we will explore further,” Tudge told News Corp today.

“New Zealand’s card has a different purpose to the objective of our cashless debit card, but it appears to be working.”

Tudge said that young people on welfare have often not been taught how to budget their money properly, and he said a financial management course would give young people the skills to live successfully without government assistance.

“If a person is under 18 and already on welfare payments, the chances of them needing assistance to help manage their finances is likely to be high,” he said.

“The New Zealand card is aimed at helping young unemployed people to get their lives on track and provide an additional encouragement to work.”

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