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Submission by the Whitlam Institute for the Inquiry into the purpose, intent and adequacy of the Disability Support Pension

Disability employment Pensions People with disability Unemployment Australia

Since 2006 there have been significant changes made to the eligibility criteria for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) by various Australian Federal Governments. The changes have resulted in a tightening of access to the DSP and an increasingly complex and layered claims process. As a result, many people with disability are found to be ineligible for the DSP.

Given the central role that employment has for those on the JobSeeker Payment and those with participation plans on the DSP:

  • The first focus area of this submission is on employment prospects and incentives for people with disability on the JobSeeker Payment. This section speaks to the broader context and structure of employment in Australia and the opportunities available and barriers to employment experienced by people with disability. This is relevant for policies placing obligations and requirements on people with disability on JobSeeker to apply for employment opportunities and for considering employment for people on the DSP.
  • The second focus area of the submission is on the eligibility criteria for the DSP, identifying some of the barriers of the claims process.
  • The third focus area is on how the DSP, as it is currently structured, can undermine the economic goals and aspirations of people with disability on the DSP and their transition to employment.
  • The final focus area is the unique situation of people with psychiatric or psychosocial impairment/s.

The submission is based on evidence collected as part of the E. G. Whitlam Fellowship undertaken by Dr St Guillaume in 2019, and presented to the Inquiry into the Adequacy of Newstart Allowance by the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs in 2019. The evidence is based on 16 in depth interviews conducted between July and December 2019 with people with disability on the JobSeeker Payment (formerly NSA) who had attempted to apply for the DSP and who were living in Western Sydney (see Appendix 1 for Fellowship report). As such, it seeks to use objective criteria to support an ethical decision to vary a key element of current social policy.

Related Information

Newstart, poverty, disability and the National Disability Insurance Scheme https://apo.org.au/node/313262

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