UnitingCare Australia responds to the Intergenerational Report

“Today’s release of the Intergenerational Report (IGR) provides an opportunity for us to think about the policy decisions we face. It should focus us on ensuring all Australians can participate and contribute,” said Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director of UnitingCare Australia.

“The forecasts in the report don’t tell us the future, but they do give us a sense of the significant demographic shifts that are likely to occur. The IGR provides an opportunity for us to make plans now, to ensure we have a reliable safety net and can provide opportunities for people in the future.”

“A strong safety net should not be seen as a barrier to a good future, but as a central plank for a good society now and in the years ahead.”

“With government currently spending more than it collects in revenue it is clear that some changes are needed. We should be giving less government assistance to people who don’t need it and more assistance to those who do.”

“Reform to superannuation will also be important to secure the government’s long-term revenue stream and ensure retired Australians can meet the costs of their ageing.”

“The IGR shows that the proportion of people on the aged pension is falling. This suggests that superannuation is achieving its goals, but more could be done to make it more effective. Superannuation functions well as a compulsory savings tool, but not as a vehicle for providing a steady income stream in retirement,” said Lin.

“The IGR should also focus us to pay particular attention to the issue of youth unemployment. 14 percent of 15 to 24 year olds are unemployed. With a larger proportion of our population likely to be outside of working age in the years ahead, it is important that we support people—particularly young people—into the workforce. This challenge is even more pressing given that GDP growth has slowed.”

“This requires early investment of additional support, for long-term gains. If we can break cycles of intergenerational unemployment, if we can enable young people to grow in their skills, their confidence and their aspiration, and if we can support older people who lose their jobs to re-enter the workforce later in life—we will position ourselves well for the challenges ahead,” said Lin.

“Significant work is already underway to prepare for some of the demographic changes Australia will face. For example, changes in aged care policy are already occurring to enable more people to be cared for in the community. This will give older Australian’s a chance to be cared for within the community and will also save money. These sorts of initiatives need to continue.”

“We must remember that society in the years ahead will not be shaped solely by forces we have no control over, but largely by the things we value and the decisions we prioritise today. The IGR is an opportunity for us to look at the context we are in and the challenges we face, and then to decide what sort of future we want to gift to our children and grandchildren.”

 

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