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New govt plan to break welfare cycle

AAP logoAAP 19/09/2016 Rashida Yosufzai

A new fund to help young people break the cycle of welfare dependency will be up and running by next year.

The federal government is pouring $96 million into a program targeting thousands of young carers, students and parents to ensure they're not on welfare for the rest of their lives.

Armed with a new report and statistics on the impact of welfare reliance, Social Services Minister Christian Porter is calling for a revolution in the system.

He's worried generations of youth are being trapped into a life on welfare - from young mothers who have had parents on benefits to students graduating and unable to shake off reliance on unemployment payments.

For too many people, the money flows, nothing changes and lives don't improve.

"The human cost of lost opportunities, of lost potential, is a terrible result of the system that we have in place at the moment," the minister said.

The government will give community groups and NGOs the money but it will be up to the services to "BYO the ideas".

Mr Porter expects it to be running by next year.

Besides the fund, targeted youth could also have to abide by new rules to ensure they're working for their payments under stricter mutual obligation controls.

The community sector isn't happy with the "modest" amount of the fund saying it recently lost $1.5 billion to provide such services anyway.

The Australian Council of Social Service is also worried about the shift to self reliance, because it could mean people relying on charity if they've just given up seeking government help.

Chief executive Cassandra Goldie pointed to the experience of New Zealand, which the report is modelled on, amid concerns Kiwis are falling through the cracks.

"The end result has often been that people are no longer in a position to comply and they fall away," she told reporters in Canberra.

Labor is suspicious the data will be used for further welfare cuts, pointing to controversial policies such as the one-month wait for the dole for youth.

"The government is talking this up but their actions fall a long way short," opposition social services spokeswoman Jenny Macklin told ABC radio.

The Greens said there were barriers to employment that the government should be focusing on fixing.

"A half-baked version of the New Zealand approach that fails to broadly address poverty and disadvantage will leave us worse off than when we started," community services spokeswoman Rachel Siewert said.

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