Leading Disability Advocacy Groups Join ACOSS in Urging Government to Act on Senate DSP Inquiry Report
While the report contains welcome recommendations, we urge the government to take responsibility for taking action to address the level of need and distress that people with disabilities experience while trying to survive on income assistance.
Australia is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Article 28 clearly states that people with disabilities have the right to an adequate standard of living and social conditions.
We welcome the Committee’s recommendations to:
- Remove people’s mutual obligations during the claims process and make the support program voluntary, “drop punitive compliance measures” and make employment services more efficient.
- Increase funding for disability advocacy, community legal services and First Nations organizations to support DSP claimants in their claims process and improve links between Service Australia and First Nations organizations.
- Establish principles in the administration of social security, including proactively helping people access assistance; treat people with respect.
- Make adjustments to service delivery to meet individual needs.
More urgent need:
We are concerned that a number of major flaws in the current system are recommended for ‘further consideration’, ‘investigation’ or ‘review’ when the evidence of harm or ineffectiveness is clear. This includes:
- The recommendation to “study” ways to better support DSP recipients at risk of poverty, particularly those in the private rental market, and to ensure that they can cover their own living costs, while failing to recommend an increase in rental assistance.
- The recommendation to “study” the impact of the requirement that a condition must be “fully diagnosed, treated and stabilized” to be eligible for DSP. This currently excludes many seriously ill people, including those being treated for cancer, who find themselves in an intolerable position. Urgent action to reform this requirement is needed.
- The recommendation to “consider” reforming the rigid 20-point system to allow points to be accumulated across depreciation tables. Review of impairment tables should be imperative, as the narrow criteria imposed by impairment tables do not take into account concurrent disabilities. Access to DSP must consider the person as a whole.
- The recommendation to “consider” reintroducing the attending physicians’ report.
People with disabilities have waited long enough, especially during the current pandemic. The pandemic has disproportionately affected people with disabilities with additional and unreasonable costs imposed to stay safe. Lack of access to affordable housing, a failing NDIS and supply chain
problems are the additional costs for people with disabilities, who already live in poverty.
Now is not the time to “examine further” or “investigate” the PSD issues that formed the basis of this investigation in the first place. People with disabilities need urgent action.
We urge the next government to form a Ministerial or Departmental DSS Advisory Group led by agencies representing persons with disabilities and urgently implement the recommendations of the review as soon as possible.
Gaps in recommendations:
The recommendations are sadly silent on the urgent need to increase Jobseeker’s Allowance for all recipients, including people with disabilities, and on the lack of a meaningful recommendation to directly address the additional cost of disability.
We call on the Minister to act quickly to implement the recommendations of the inquiry and to do everything possible to end the cruelty suffered by people with disabilities and serious illnesses when they try to access the DSP .
Collectively, we have heard many stories of incredible stress and trauma experienced by DSP applicants, such as Bianca and Kerry, who stated this in their survey submissions:
“I helped my dad apply for DSP following his stroke/acquired brain injury and being fired from his 23 year job because of it. The process was incredibly stressful, and he had needed me, his social work qualified daughter, to complete the whole process for him. After taking hours to complete the initial application, it was rejected. The appeal process was slow, painful and inefficient. My dad was blessed with educated supports around him but the process made me feel for those who don’t and have to navigate it on their own Support services weren’t helpful and the app is not suitable for people with disabilities.” Bianca Steinbock
“Applying for a DSP is extremely difficult because there are so many forms and documents involved. Sometimes these may have to be resubmitted, making the application process almost impossible. Plus, having to deal with different people on the phone each time also means starting from scratch, which sometimes makes the process too overwhelming. There are so many hurdles in place, especially when the financial constraints of JobSeeker hardship are so high, that it’s just too impossible to apply again and again. Kerry O’Hara
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“ACOSS hears every day from people caught up in this cruel and unfair system and we cannot emphasize how much it hurts people in our community. We know that approximately 30% of people receiving income support payments are expected to be on DSP, including people with terminal illnesses,
and due to inflexible and flawed eligibility rules, they are forced to survive on payments from job seekers and exposed to onerous mutual obligations.
“Furthermore, the eligibility assessment has operated in a vacuum away from the expertise of the treating physicians and the whole process has been undertaken in a bureaucratic and heartless manner, which creates great stress and frustration. anxiety for people already dealing with the impact of serious health conditions.
“The social security system should provide sufficient income to enable people with disabilities to cover basic expenses and the additional costs of disability. It should help those who want to seek employment to do so, and it should treat people with disabilities with respect and dignity at all stages of the process.
The PWDA board said:
PWDA Board Director Nicole Lee: “The system is punitive. It is not enough to have to guard against one’s bets and to have to choose which handicap will be most likely to be taken into consideration when applying for DSP. We must take into account the person as a whole and urgently resolve the issues with the tables of deficiency. »
Clare Gibellini, Director of the Board of PWDA: “It is no secret that before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, people with disabilities were disproportionately disadvantaged by the systems that were supposed to protect us. We have been excluded from many of the additional payments provided to support people during COVID. During the pandemic, we have seen the gap widen significantly for people who rely on income support. It is no longer a gap, it is a chasm that continues to widen.
AFDO CEO Ross Joyce said:
“We believe that people with disabilities face institutional abuse and neglect when they come into contact with the Disability Support Pension eligibility and review processes. AFDO wants the Department and Services Australia to adopt the social model of disability in framing access to the Disability Support Pension to address these human rights concerns and ensure the participation and representation of people with disabilities in the social inclusion mechanism that is Disability Support. Pension.”
“AFDO believes that the Australian Department of Social and Services should be transparent and, as a matter of urgency, hold a departmental briefing on social and disability rights.
agencies on how they intend to respond to the PSD Senate investigation report.
CYDA CEO Mary Sayers said:
“Young people with disabilities find it difficult to gain access to Disability Support Pension when they need it and are forced to access the lower level of funding of Jobseeker’s Allowance or allowance for young people with partial work capacity. While this review contains welcome measures to reduce administrative barriers, it does not address the “sufficiency” of PSD, which forces people with disabilities, including young people, to live in poverty. »
NEDA CEO Dwayne Cranfield said:
“We thank ACOSS for once again being the voice of reason on issues of inequality and poverty, we salute its position on the rights of our indigenous community and express our concern for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD). Australia is a nation built on migration with over 25% of the population identifying as CaLD, we believe that in an equitable society everyone should have access to culturally sensitive outreach support services.