ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie is concerned with welfare measures in the federal budget.Migrants could be forced to wait up to four years before accessing a raft of welfare benefits, under a federal budget measure expected to net more than $200 million in savings.
The Turnbull government already has legislation before parliament to push the waiting period for various payments out to three years.
Migrant and community groups pushed back hard against the move, fearing it could force some new arrivals into destitution and poverty.
But now the government is proposing to stretch the wait time for migrants wanting to access Newstart and Youth Allowance – as well as various parenting and family benefits – out to four years, from July 1.
It expects this will save $202.5 million over five years.
Cassandra Goldie, from the n Council of Social Services, singled out the measure for a brutal dressing down.
“The harshest change in this budget affects some of the most vulnerable people in the community: new migrants lacking paid work, who will be left without income support for the first four years,” Dr Goldie said.
“This is not the way to welcome people to this country and help them contribute to its future prosperity.”
Exemptions for vulnerable groups and humanitarian entrants will continue to apply, while hardship provisions will also remain in place.
The budget includes $5 million for community organisations to assist newly-arrived migrants integrate.
Meanwhile, time limits for migrants aged under 18 to extend their English tuition classes will also be removed from July 1.
Newly-arrived migrants are offered up to 510 hours of free English language tuition to help them to participate in n life.
The budget also confirms religious organisations will be excused from chipping into a Skilled ns Fund – a levy for employers who seek out foreign skilled workers to fill temporary shortages.