Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has accused the Government and Centrelink of deliberately setting out to demonise people with disabilities, after it emerged that videos of income support recipients are routinely sent to media outlets.
Earlier this year, Centrelink released videos of people on disability support who had been charged with fraud. It coincided with legislation making punitive changes to the Disability Support Pension (DSP) and the release of the latest data on the disability support pension.
"I don't think this is a coincidence", Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens Spokesperson for Disability Services said today.
"The Government is trying to sway public opinion by publicly demonising people with disabilities and justify their punitive approach to those on disability support.
"If Centrelink is allowed to release videos of the public, are other departments responsible for public services allowed to do it as well? This is slippery slope.
"I'm sure there's fraud in our health system, so why not release videos of patients coming out of GP clinics and hospitals? What about our education system? I'm sure there are lots of naughty children wasting tax payers' money. Where does this name and shame culture end?
"Centrelink should not use the media to shame people on income support. All it does is demonise people who really need the help and financial support. They are vulnerable already. They don't need to be vilified for needing government assistance.
"It makes me wonder what Centrelink's motive is. Perhaps they think releasing videos will cut costs, so that people will think twice before applying for income support. If this is the case, using the media is a very strange way for a government agency to cut costs.
"What happened to good old-fashioned strong governance, management and accountability in the public sector?" concluded Senator Siewert.