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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Proposed review of Disability Support Pension

No broken promises - Get Real on Jobs for people with disability
People with Disability Australia (press release), 22nd April 2014
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) calls on the Abbott Government to honour its election promise to make no changes to pensions in the upcoming federal budget, including the Disability Support Pension (DSP).  We urge the Government to work in partnership with people with disability and their representative organisations to address the jobs crisis and the reality of poverty and disability.

Despite assurances by the Prime Minister that people on DSP would not be forced onto Newstart, the Government choose Easter to announce a move to retrospectively reassess thousands of people with disability who are on DSP.  This announcement has caused alarm among people with disability and their families. The reality is that for many people with disability, reassessment will mean being forced onto the lower Newstart payment which is around $160 less than the DSP. 

PWDA President, Craig Wallace says, "Moving people with disability onto Newstart and lower payments signals a move into poverty and only makes it more difficult for people with disability to engage in work, training and volunteering.  It means making invidious choices between paying rent, electricity, medication or food, or having to choose between essential disability support and equipment.”

"Describing 800,000 DSP recipients as out of control is simplistic and misleading," said Mr Wallace, "debate should focus on support for people with disability rather than portraying people on the DSP as malingerers.  Australia does not have a welfare crisis, it has a jobs crisis, with record low rates of employment of people with disability, including in the public sector."

"With the McClure Review on welfare still ongoing, this alarmist announcement is premature and appears to be simply a cost-cutting exercise which avoids the real jobs crisis," said Mr Wallace. "Addressing the great moral challenge that is poverty and disability means focusing on removing the structural and attitudinal barriers that keep people with disability out of the workforce, along with a comprehensive economic participation package designed to employ and retain people with disability in the workforce," said Mr Wallace.

"PWDA is ready to work in partnership with the Government to address the issue of economic participation for people with disability,” said Mr Wallace. “We want a fresh start on jobs using the ideas in PWDA’s Get Real on Jobs policy position, rather than attacks on people on the DSP."

Media articles:
Disability pension for under-35s comes under Coalition scrutiny
Bridie Jabour, The Guardian, 20th April 2014
Minister for social services, Kevin Andrews, may renege on promise not to make retrospective changes to DSP

AMA gives cautious support to disability support crackdown
David Wroe, Sydney Morning Herald, 20th April 2014
An Abbott government proposal to have disability support pensioners independently reviewed has won the cautious backing of the Australian Medical Association, which says it can be hard for doctors to reject patients' claims they cannot work.
Tested to breaking point
Craig Wallace, Ramp Up, 21st April 2014
The Federal Government is considering using independent doctors to reassess whether disability pensioners should continue to receive the Disability Support Pension. Craig Wallace says it is wrong to put vulnerable people with disability through yet more assessments without addressing greater issues around unemployment, discrimination and job training ...
Craig Wallace is the President of People with Disability Australia.

People on the DSP are not wasting money, unlike the politicians who stigmatise them
Michael Vandus, The Conversation, 22nd April 2014
... Like any rehabilitation physician, I would welcome new expenditure to help young disabled people into the workforce. If one starts from the assumption that all DSP recipients are bludgers and require them to ‘prove’ their disability on demand, only hostility and injustice will result. Much better to start from the assumption that extra resources applied in an evidence-based and consumer-friendly fashion will always be the most cost-effective solution ...

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