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Income support crackdown not the answer for alcohol related harm

The Australian Greens said today that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and alcohol related harm need to be addressed through community driven, holistic approaches, that include addressing their underlying causes, rather than a further crackdown on income support.

"FASD, alcohol and drug related harm are health and social issues and need to be addressed as part of a broader commitment to reduce the underlying causes of alcohol abuse. They cannot be used to try and prosecute the case for hard-line changes to income support, such as income management or the denial of support," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.

"The lack of adequate information about FASD is a clear sign that much more needs to be done to address it, but this cannot be used as a gateway into tough and unjustified measures targeting social security, which could easily compound the factors that are contributing to alcohol abuse.

"Australian governments should be working with communities, health and service providers to reduce alcohol and drug related harm. This includes re-thinking budget cuts that could take funding away from vital services. They also need to stand up to the alcohol industry and seriously consider measures such as alcohol supply measures for example floor pricing, takeaway free days and licencing restrictions.

"Toughening welfare regimes is not the responses to serious social problems and at-risk people, but unfortunately that is the direction policy may be heading, given the ongoing leaks about the recommendation of the McClure Review.

"Reports suggesting that income management should target at-risk people are very concerning, as it seems that once again, the most vulnerable will be targeted with unproven measures that even the panel members themselves appear to have concerns about.

"The Government don't seem to realise that they can take an investment-focused approach, that provides assistance to people up front, without linking this support to punitive measures like income management," Senator Siewert concluded.

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