Submission to the Senate on Adequacy of Newstart and related payments and alternative mechanisms to determine the level of income support payments in Australia

People with disability face significant barriers to accessing employment. People with disability rely on income support payments to meet basic living costs as well as disability-related costs.

PWDA has significant concerns about the level of income support for both Newstart and related payments such as the Disability Support Pension (DSP) due to the following structural reasons:

  1. We face barriers to employment
  2. We face barriers to accessing mainstream education and training
  3. We have higher living costs

Even if we are employed, 61% of us believe our income is not enough to support our basic needs for housing, food and transport. For those of us relying solely on income support payments, that feeling of insecurity is greatly exacerbated.

In addition, people with disability incur higher costs of living than those without disability. We also have disability support costs that we need to meet, unlike those without disability.

When we are not funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) then these cost pressures are worse. As a result, the financial insecurity we experience limits our choices to live in the community, preventing the full realisation our social, political and economic rights.

People with disability need an income support system that recognises and supports us. This submission comments on the following:

a) consideration of what constitutes an acceptable standard of living in Australia

b) the labour market, unemployment and under-employment in Australia, including the structural causes of long-term unemployment and long-term reliance on Newstart

c) the appropriateness of current arrangements for supporting those experiencing insecure employment, inconsistent employment and precarious hours in the workforce

d) the current approach to setting income support payments in Australia

e) the impact of the current approach to setting income support payments on people with disability, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and people living in regional and remote areas

f) the adequacy of income support payments in Australia and whether they allow people to maintain an acceptable standard of living in line with community expectations and fulfil job search activities and secure employment and training

g) the relative merits of alternative investments in health, education, housing and other programs to improve outcomes

h) The need to increase Rent Assistance.

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