The Australian Social Welfare Agency (ASWA) will have to close its doors by the end of the year, with chief executive Mike Williams revealing the agency is facing funding cuts.
“We are in the process of closing down ASWA, the Australian Social Services Agency (ASC), and that will be by the middle of next year,” Mr Williams told reporters at the ASWA annual conference.
Mr Williams said the agency would continue to be staffed by “an unprecedented number of volunteers” and would continue operating as a private sector organisation, while the agency’s IT department would be shut down.
He said ASWA would also be seeking to hire more IT specialists to help with IT operations.
“We will be asking our IT team to continue to assist with the operations of the ASWAA as they continue to work through their contingency planning for the closure of ASWA,” Mr Williamson said.
The Australian Government announced earlier this year that the Australian Workers’ Compensation Scheme (AWC) would be abolished, with ASWA taking the lead in providing social security payments.
In April, the ASSA’s director general and chief executive, John Graham, announced the organisation would also seek to close the organisation’s IT operation, which was “increasingly unprofitable” due to an “increasing number of clients, more clients and an increased workload”.
Mr Graham said the decision was made to close ASWA’s IT operations due to the organisation “underperforming” its “responsibilities” and “increasing workload”.
“The ASWSA’s IT team has been experiencing increasing workloads, increasing client calls, and increasing workload for the majority of our employees, including a significant reduction in our IT support and support for our community partners,” Mr Graham said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Mr Graham announced that the ASC was to be axed, with the organisation closing down its IT operations as well as its social welfare website.
On Monday, Mr Williams said there was a “very good chance” the ASC would be closed.
Under the Government’s $6.5 billion WorkChoices reforms, social welfare payments are to be made to people with a work-related disability, but Mr Williams has confirmed ASWA will be exempt from the reforms.
When asked if the ASC could continue to operate as a non-profit, Mr Williamson replied: “We are actively exploring that option.”