The Government and Coalition have united in supporting changes to the Social Security Act that are likely to lead to deeply unjust outcomes for vulnerable people.
The changes, contained in two Social Security Legislation Amendment Bills, will see the implementation of new disability impairment tables which change the eligibility criteria for the disability support pension and also introduce compulsory participation plans for teenage parents.
Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Family and Community Services spokesperson said today that despite Government claims both pieces of legislation were designed to increase participation, both could have significant negative impacts on income support recipients.
“The Greens absolutely support efforts to assist people into the workforce. However, we remain opposed to measures which take a punitive approach to income support,” Senator Siewert said today.
“Changes to the disability support payment eligibility will see increasingly large numbers of people with disabilities receiving Newstart allowance instead of the Disability Support Payment. Newstart is $131 dollars a week below the DSP.
“As well as less financial assistance, people will be forced to meet stricter activity requirements in a deeply inhospitable labour market.
“The introduction of participation plans for young parents and teenager mothers is also concerning, with the prospect their parenting payments may be suspended if they do not comply.
"As well as being ineffective, payment suspensions of this nature will hurt children.
"Rather than taking these punitive pathways, we need to help people overcome the obstacles they face to participation or finding work- including a lack of child care and poor access to public transport. Positive measures, such as case management are far more effective than these negative policies.
"It is very concerning that the Government and Coalition continue to pursue policies that deny important assistance to vulnerable people,” Senator Siewert concluded.