Please note that the National Welfare Rights Network has changed its name to the National Social Security Rights Network. We will update the website as soon as possible.
The National Welfare Rights Network (NWRN) is a network of community legal centres throughout Australia which specialise in Social Security law and its administration by the Department of Human Services (DHS). The National Welfare Rights Network comprises a National Secretariat, 14 member centres and two affiliate members. Member Centres provide free information, legal advice, community education and casework assistance to vulnerable clients about social security and family assistance problems. Clients of member centres are frequently living in poverty and include: homeless, indigenous, migrants, people with disability, carers, single parents, youth, and aged. Associate members are also legal services running welfare rights outreach programs. Through casework, Member Centres identify systemic problems and policy or service delivery gaps that cause people to “fall through the gaps”. The Network Secretariat’s activities aim to reduce poverty, hardship and inequality in Australia by collecting and analysing the experiences of the people assisted by its member centres, identifying changes needed to address gaps in our social security safety net, and engaging with government to raise awareness of issues and work co-operatively to achieve change. The Network provides expert feedback to Government on new and proposed changes to welfare law and policy and the secretariat is funded by Government to co-ordinate the Network’s activities to this end. The network also engages with the welfare sector raising awareness of social security issues to help inform the work of the sector in advancing public welfare. In addition to co-ordinating the Network’s policy, law reform, government engagement, sector engagement and media activities, the Secretariat resources and supports the Member Centres and Affiliate Members and facilitates pathways for communication between Member Centres and the Department of Human Services to facilitate advocacy in individual cases and feedback to Government. A targeted, well-functioning social security framework is essential to public welfare in Australia. The National Welfare Rights Network plays a critical role in collecting, analysing and informing Government of problems with the social security and family assistance systems and works co-operatively to achieve advances and improvements to the social safety net.