Since the start of the 58’08 campaign last year the GLRL realised that although the introduction of equality at a federal level was going to accord new rights to tens of thousands of gay and lesbian Australians, we also knew it would also bring new responsibilities.
The Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Inquiry, undertaken by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2007, also grappled with the issue of impact.
In order to ascertain the community’s views on these issues, the inquiry undertook widespread consultations throughout regional, rural and metropolitan Australia. The outcome of those consultations was overwhelming support for the reforms, accompanied by the sentiment that new rights should come before new responsibilities.
Over the past few weeks some in our community have written to me concerned about the effects the reforms will have on social security laws. Since the beginning of the 58’08 campaign, the GLRL has worked with members of parliament and government agencies to ensure that the social security reforms are introduced in the fairest way possible. We are also part of a reference group, established specifically to deal with the impact of social security reforms.
The reference group includes representatives from the Welfare Rights Centre, ACON, Positive Life and People with Disabilities NSW, to name a few. We are working hard with this group to liaise with Centrelink and government to ensure that the changes are made with the least possible detrimental effects on our community. Some of the options discussed so far include: phasing in the reforms, and grandfathering the reforms so that people already in receipt of
social security do not have it taken away.
We are also working with the Welfare Rights Centre and other agencies to develop an education campaign for our community, so that people can prepare for the impact of the reforms, and so that people can assert their new rights and responsibilities with confidence.
While these reforms are the most significant for gay and lesbian equality in the history of the Australian Parliament, we will continue to work with the community, with other organisations and the Government to ensure that they are implemented with fairness and equity.