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Eight Thousand Young Australians Kicked Off Disability Support Pension

Friday 29 January 2016


From ABC's The World Today:


The World Today

Eight thousand young people kicked off disability support pension

Angela Lavoipierre reported this story on Thursday, January 28, 2016

Download audio (MP3, 1.63 MB)


KIM LANDERS: The Federal Government claims its crackdown on the Disability Support Pension (DSP) is working, with 8,000 people kicked off the payment in the final half of last year.

On top of that, the number of first time applicants being rejected for the DSP has risen dramatically.

The Social Services Minister, Christian Porter, expects those measures will save $1.2 billion, but disability advocates are worried the Government has gone too far.

Angela Lavoipierre reports.

ANGELA LAVOIPIERRE: More than 800,000 Australians rely on the disability support pension, which pays recipients a maximum of $788 per fortnight.

Consecutive federal governments have been working to get that number down and now the Coalition is claiming it's had some success.

The Social Services Minister Christian Porter.

CHRISTIAN PORTER: That represented a quite astonishing figure of about one in 20 people of working age in Australia.

Now the view that we took was that was not particularly sustainable in terms of the growth in the system and it was jeopardising the ability of the government, through the goodwill of the taxpayer, to support people with genuine disabilities who genuinely couldn't work therefore genuinely needed a payment.

ANGELA LAVOIPIERRE: In order to bring the figures down, the Government tightened the rules, reviewing DSP recipients under 35, and introducing a rule that all new applicants must be approved by a Commonwealth doctor.

CHRISTIAN PORTER: What that did ultimately was decrease the number of people both in terms of those who are coming onto the system but we also identified a whole range of people who were on DSP who on medical basis just shouldn't have been there.

ANGELA LAVOIPIERRE: More than 8,000 people were kicked off the disability support pension in the final half of last year. That's about one in seven young people who were claiming the payment.

Mary Mallett from the Disability Advocacy Network Australia warns those cut off from the DSP may not have gone back to work.

MARY MALLETT: Some of them, it's likely will have moved from the DSP onto Newstart. That's a huge difference in income. So a lot of people still have some kind of disability but they have to survive on a really, really low income. So basically what it does for the people who don't find work, it puts them immediately into poverty.

ANGELA LAVOIPIERRE: Christian Porter says it's the first time the number of people on the DSP has dropped and it'll save the budget more than a billion dollars.

CHRISTIAN PORTER: It's those kinds of savings that are creating room for us to help make the funding gap for the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) possible.

ANGELA LAVOIPIERRE: The Government is staring down a $5.2 billion funding gap in the NDIS.

Christian Porter insists the Government is committed to meeting that.

CHRISTIAN PORTER: The NDIS is the first dollar that has to be spent by Government and that is just a watertight commitment from the Government so it will be delivered.

ANGELA LAVOIPIERRE: Mary Mallett from the Disability Advocacy Network supports strong guidelines to determine who's eligible for the DSP. But she's not convinced that a crackdown is the best way to get people back to work.

MARY MALLETT: Rather than just using the stick rather than the carrot, chopping people off their welfare income support, it's not necessarily a long term solution if there aren't jobs for those people.

Some of them will end up on a lower level of welfare payment, again that they make it even harder for them to find a job.

ANGELA LAVOIPIERRE: Mary Mallett is concerned that rushing people off the DSP without a job to go to could leave some with a legitimate disability living in poverty.

MARY MALLETT: There are people who will genuinely, who deserve and are entitled to be on the DSP, if they're found to be not eligible and they don't, you know, understand the appeals process or know how to work their way through it, really they are just condemned to poverty in effect.

KIM LANDERS: Mary Mallett from the Disability Advocacy Network Australia ending that report from Angela Lavoipierre.

©2010 ABC


The above originally appeared here.


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