Evidence mounts against Government’s flawed changes to disability support

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Evidence is continuing to mount against the Government’s flawed approach to legislation which alters disability support pension eligibility rules.

Australian Greens disabilities spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert today described the Government’s consultation process around the legislation as woefully inadequate.

“The evidence presented to today’s Senate Committee hearing into the changes to the Disability Support Pension Impairment Tables makes it clear that the Government’s consultation and trial process was fundamentally flawed,” Senator Siewert said.

“I was astounded to hear that some of these impairment tables have been tested on just two people – despite the fact the Government plans to introduce the changes nationally at the beginning of next year.

“This is a piece of legislation which will see as many as many as 40% of new disability support payment (DSP) applicants placed on the lower Newstart Allowance payment, compounding existing financial hardship without taking any meaningful steps towards improving employment outcomes.

“While the Government continues with plans to move people off the DSP and on to Newstart, not enough is being done to remove the existing barriers to securing long term employment opportunities.

“It emerged during today’s hearing that only 16% of disability support pension recipients find sustainable employment through job service providers. This is a clear sign of the challenges faced by jobseekers and employers.

“These changes are being made under the guise of helping people transition to the workforce, but in reality people are being moved to a lower payment as a cost saving measure and 84% of them will stay there for the foreseeable future.

“I have no doubt that as a result of this legislation many people moved to Newstart will experience financial hardship.

“In November last year, the Organisation for Economic Co‐operation and Development stated that the rate of Newstart Allowance had fallen below the poverty line.

“This is effectively punishing people for being disabled, rather than offering them assistance to find an appropriate job and improve their personal circumstances.

“We must examine effective mechanisms to adequately support people in finding secure, long term employment. Not simply penalising them, as this legislation does,” Senator Siewert concluded.