People with Disability Australia (PWDA) calls on the Abbott Government to honour its election promise to make no changes to pensions in the upcoming federal budget, including the Disability Support Pension (DSP). We urge the Government to work in partnership with people with disability and their representative organisations to address the jobs crisis and the reality of poverty and disability.
Despite assurances by the Prime Minister that people on DSP would not be forced onto Newstart, the Government choose Easter to announce a move to retrospectively reassess thousands of people with disability who are on DSP. This announcement has caused alarm among people with disability and their families. The reality is that for many people with disability, reassessment will mean being forced onto the lower Newstart payment which is around $160 less than the DSP.
PWDA President, Craig Wallace says, “Moving people with disability onto Newstart and lower payments signals a move into poverty and only makes it more difficult for people with disability to engage in work, training and volunteering. It means making invidious choices between paying rent, electricity, medication or food, or having to choose between essential disability support and equipment.”
“Describing 800,000 DSP recipients as out of control is simplistic and misleading,” said Mr Wallace, “debate should focus on support for people with disability rather than portraying people on the DSP as malingerers. Australia does not have a welfare crisis, it has a jobs crisis, with record low rates of employment of people with disability, including in the public sector.”
“With the McClure Review on welfare still ongoing, this alarmist announcement is premature and appears to be simply a cost-cutting exercise which avoids the real jobs crisis,” said Mr Wallace. “Addressing the great moral challenge that is poverty and disability means focusing on removing the structural and attitudinal barriers that keep people with disability out of the workforce, along with a comprehensive economic participation package designed to employ and retain people with disability in the workforce,” said Mr Wallace.
“PWDA is ready to work in partnership with the Government to address the issue of economic participation for people with disability,” said Mr Wallace. “We want a fresh start on jobs using the ideas in PWDA’s Get Real on Jobs policy position, rather than attacks on people on the DSP.”
MEDIA: Craig Wallace 0413 135 731
People with Disability Australia Incorporated (PWDA) is a national disability rights and advocacy, non-profit, non-government organisation. We have a cross-disability focus, representing the interests of people with all kinds of disability and our membership is made up of people with disability and organisations mainly constituted by people with disability.
Our vision is of a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, citizenship, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are respected and celebrated.