Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Andrew Forrest in Sydney for the official hand over of Creating Parity: The Forrest Review at Marist Youth Centre, Friday, August. 1, 2014.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Andrew Forrest in Sydney for the official hand over of Creating Parity: The Forrest Review at Marist Youth Centre, Friday, August. 1, 2014. AAP Image - Nikki Short

Forrest's welfare report calls for sanctions against states

STATE and territory governments could face "sanctions" if they don't make children go to school, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Friday.

Mr Abbott made the comment while releasing miner Andrew Forrest's review of indigenous jobs and training policies in Melbourne this week.

While many of his proposals were welcomed by business and social sector groups, Mr Forrest's controversial pitch to put almost all welfare recipients into a cashless economy is unlikely to eventuate.

Mr Abbott again described the pitch as "ahead of public opinion" and "ambitious", in a clear sign such a policy was unlikely to be made reality before the next election.

But Mr Abbott also went further than Forrest's recommendation that families who fail to meet unspecified school attendance targets lose their family tax benefits.

He said he was "absolutely determined" to have sanctions in place for children who fail to go to school, saying if the states did not impose such penalties, his government would.

Mr Forrest's report also called for case management of vulnerable young children, and that training for adult indigenous Australians should only go ahead if it directly related to a job.

The Fortescue Metals chairman also wanted teachers in remote schools with less than 80% attendance rates to get a 5% pay rise and scholarships to help them teach.

He also wanted the government to help implement an "explicit instruction" model to teach indigenous children English and numeracy.

While Mr Abbott said the government would consider all the proposals, Mr Forrest said there should be a national agreement for all his recommendations to be acted on together.

He said the report would now be available for public consultation for six weeks before the government decided its position.


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