Abbott Government seeking to make it harder for people with disabilities

A proposed toughening of compliance and participation requirements for Disability Support Pension recipients could have significant adverse consequences for people with disability.

"It is very concerning that the Government is considering extending tough compliance and participation measures for people with disability. Taking this compliance driven approach to people with significant barriers to employment is flawed and could lead to a loss of income support," according to Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens disabilities spokesperson.

"Rather than genuinely focusing on employment or opportunity, this Government remains fixated on making it harder for people to access the support they need to avoid poverty, support themselves and find secure work.

"We found out during estimates that 143 people have been suspended from DSP since July for non-attendance of interviews, but when asked, the Department couldn't explain the reasons for non-attendance. That means that those people with disability had no support for that period of time.

"Tough compliance and participation requirements do not address the factors that can make it harder for people with disability to find secure employment, including a lack of accessibility or infrastructure in the workplace, discrimination and health or mental health issues. Extending the target age group to 40 or 45 also raises the issues of the barriers faced by older jobseekers, including age discrimination.

"Successive Governments have made it harder for people with disability to access adequate income support, and it is clear that our current Government has plans well beyond the budget cruelty we have seen this year.

"ACOSS has reported that 48% of households receiving the DSP are living in poverty, and making adequate payments harder to access will only make this situation worse. Living in poverty reduces your capacity to work and look for work, and it can compounding existing health and mental health conditions.

"The Government needs to get past this obsession with punishing people and actually work to address the needs of job seekers," Senator Siewert concluded.