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Friday, 16 May 2014

More news and commentary on the Federal Budget 2014 - 2015: specific effects on people with disability and carers

Disability in Budget 2014
El Gibbs, Ramp Up, 15th May 2014
... a summary of the impact of the 2014 Federal Budget on people with disability ...

We're damned by discrimination, not the DSP
Stella Young, Ramp Up, 14th May 2014
Making the Disability Support Pension harder to get isn't going to "entice" people with disabilities into the workforce. We're already enticed. Some of us are desperate to work ...

Carers face a tougher future under Budget changes
Carers Australia, 13th May 2014 
A second statement from Carers Australia, particularly focuses on the budget's impact on carer payment recipients and young carers.

Budget: disability groups furious that ABC Ramp Up website to go
Amanda Meade, The Guardian (online), 14th May 2014
... On top of the 1% cut to ABC funding, the first budget of the treasurer, Joe Hockey, discontinued funding for the popular disability website hosted by the ABC ...

One commissioner role cut from Human Rights Commission
Nance Haxton, ABC News, 14th May 2014
One of the less publicised aspects of the federal budget is the axing of one of the commissioner roles from the Human Rights Commission. The Disability Discrimination Commissioner has been axed, leaving six commissioners in other roles and the president. Current disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes, whose term ends in July, says the scrapping of the role will have dire consequences for the disability community in Australia, as it relies on the advocacy provided by a specific commissioner.

Commission to continue representing people with disability
Australian Human Rights Commission, 14th May 2014
... Pending a future appointment to be made by the Attorney-General, Professor Triggs will assume responsibility for continuing to meet the statutory obligations required under the Disability Discrimination Act ...

Parents of disabled children hit out at budget cuts
RN Breakfast (ABC Radio, 16th May 2014 (audio file 7m 18s)
... In 2013 the Coalition described current funding arrangements for these students as unfair and inequitable, and committed itself to increasing the amount of money they receive from 2015. But the Federal Budget contains no additional money for these students, and their parents say they feel betrayed ...

From the National Council on Intellectual Disability via Down Syndrome Australia, 14th May 2014:

NCID attended the 2014 - 2015 Budget lockup at Treasury. Below is an outline of what the Budget means for people with intellectual disability and their families.

The big issue for people with intellectual disability will be changes in the requirements to obtain and maintain receipt of the Disability Support Pension (DSP). There will be 'work-focused activity' requirements with 'sanctions for non- compliance'.

The missing piece is how the job outcome rate of disability employment providers can be increased to meet the expectation that people disability will get jobs. Without the right support people with disability will not be supported into employment no matter how many courses, training and/or work experiences they do. The current average employment outcome rate of approximately 29% is not good enough and means that out of every 100 students leaving school and having to undertake 'work- focused activities' only 29 will get a job. The other 71 will be on a roundabout of activities which lead nowhere, except to frustration and a sense of hopelessness.

The information is divided into sections with the final sections being 'surprises' and 'rumors that did not happen ...'

Disability Support Pension (DSP)
This is prefaced by the Government's statement that "this is the start of welfare reform, not the end of it"!

Along with all pensions the DSP indexation will be changed from 'average weekly male earnings' to CPI. This will mean a reduction in the amount of indexation each year, from 1st September 2017.

From the 1 July 2014, for certain DSP recipients aged under 35 years, those with an assessed work capacity of 8 hours or more per week and who have a participation plan, the Government will introduce compulsory work-focused activities, such as work experience or education and training. Sanctions for non-compliance will be introduced.

DSP recipients with a severe impairment and an assessed work capacity of less than 8 hours per week will be exempt.

A targeted review (over 5 years) will also be undertaken of DSP recipients aged under 35 years who originally accessed the payment under different rules between 2008 and 2011. Recipients will have their work capacity reassessed against the current impairment tables, and will be provided with support needed to allow them to develop their work capacity.

DSP recipients with a severe impairment and an assessed work capacity of less than 8 hours per week will be exempt.

Carer Payment
Along with all pensions the Carer Payment indexation will be changed from 'average weekly male earnings' to CPI. This will mean a reduction in the amount of indexation, from 1 September 2017.

Social Housing
Round 5 (last round) of the National Rental Affordability Scheme will not be proceeding, and the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness $115 million is for one year. Affordable housing is important for people with intellectual disability. New housing stock is vital if the NDIS is going to deliver choice and control.

National Disability Insurance Scheme
We are waiting on the review by the NDIS Board which is expected in June/July. Possible outcomes are to slow down the introduction of the NDIS and/or change eligibility; a wait and see!

Disability and Carers Industry Advisory Council
Disability and Carers Industry Advisory Council will be established "to provide innovative advice on how to improve the lives of people with disability and family members." We assume that this will replace the current Disability and Carers Council.

The Human Rights Commission will be reduced by one Commissioner, with one of the remaining Commissioners taking on a dual role. The next vacancy is the Disability Commissioner!

Rumours that did not happen, as far as we can tell ...
Disability Allowance Supplement - no change (it had been rumoured that it would be restricted to one payment per family)

DSP Impairment Tables - no review has been announced, though, the McClure Inquiry may recommend this.

National Secretariat Programme - no announcements yet, though we have been told that peak bodies will be notified soon, of future arrangements.

Fringe Benefit Tax - no changes to the current arrangements for Charities. 

Remaining questions
1. Education supplement for students with disability, Gonski funding, if and when will it begin
2. Medicare - will the $7 co-payment apply to enhanced Medicare items?
3. Abolition of COAG Reform Council, what are the implications?

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