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No broken promises!
  Thursday 24 April 2014
Get Real on Jobs for people with disability
 
Dear ,
 
On 22 April 2014, People with Disability Australia (PWDA) called 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).

During the Easter holidays, the Government announced a plan to retrospectively reassess thousands of people with disability who are on the DSP. If the Government goes ahead with this plan, then it would mean that many people with disability on the DSP would have
   A wheelchair is lit from the right by a light which casts a shadow in the form of a dollar sign.
to be reassessed by an independent doctor to see if they are still eligible.  Reassessment would not apply to everyone on the DSP, but would be targeted to people who have been assessed as eligible over the past couple of years.  It is still unclear to what year the reassessments would be backdated.

We know this announcement has caused alarm among people with disability and their families, and many members and supporters are contacting PWDA about their concerns. For many people with disability in receipt of the DSP, reassessment will mean being forced onto the lower Newstart payment which is around $160 less.

PWDA is strongly opposed to reassessments of people who have already been assessed as eligible for the DSP, and believes that no one should be forced off the DSP and onto Newstart.  As PWDA President, Craig Wallace has stated, "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 stabilise their lives and engage in work, training and volunteering.  It means making impossible choices between paying rent, electricity, medication or food, or having to choose between essential disability support and equipment.  We note that people with psychosocial and episodic disability will be especially vulnerable to these changes.”

PWDA calls for an open and transparent welfare reform process. "It is a worry to me," said Mr Wallace, "that the Government seems to be conducting reform discussions around the DSP in an ad hoc way, which is the opposite of the approach people with disability were promised after the September election.  The McClure Review on welfare is still ongoing and there is yet to be a public consultation or public submission process. There needs to be a more evidence based discussion that includes public hearings and forums for people who are on the DSP to participate in the debate."

PWDA conducted its own member and supporters consultation on income support on 8 February 2014, which was provided to the McClure Review Panel.  The views expressed in this forum underpin our position on meaningful employment, poverty eradication and the retention of a fair safety net for people with disability.

The Government says that its plan to reassess people who are already on the pension aims to encourage people who can work to be able to get jobs. PWDA disagrees. 

We seek to work in partnership with the Government to address the issue of economic participation for people with disability. “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," says Mr Wallace.

What you can do!
The Federal budget will be handed down on Tuesday 13 May 2014. We need the government to keep their promise not to make changes to the DSP.  Many people with disability have asked PWDA what they can do.

There are a number of different actions people with disability and our supporters can take to speak up and speak out about the adverse impact if government breaks their election promises in the budget.
  • Talk to your local Member for Parliament (MP) and tell them how it will affect you if you or your family members/friends are reassessed and forced onto Newstart.

  • Write or email the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Kevin Andrews and/or the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott and tell them not to break their promise that there will be no changes to pensions, and to commit to a transparent and open welfare reform process.

  • If you have social media accounts (facebook and twitter), please share your stories and concerns.

  • Phone into talkback radio and speak out about the need for a real jobs plan for people with disability, to get people into sustainable employment starting with the public sector. Government must focus on transitioning people who are on the DSP into secure paid employment, while ensuring those with significant barriers to work are still provided adequate support.

  • Write into Letters to the Editor to local, State/Territory and national papers and say that people with disability are not rorting the system. Who wants to live on less than $20,000 a year? Stress the reality that workers with disability make good employees who by and large take less sick leave and have better attendance than employees without disability if an accessible working environment is provided.

  • Become a member of the disability rights movement by joining PWDA and show your support for a socially just and inclusive society!
If you take action, please let us know at pwd@pwd.org.au
 
 
Further Reading
 
Avoid DSP changes that are likely to further exacerbate mental illness
20 Apr 2014, ACOSS Media Release
 
Cutting Costs
20 Apr 2014, Channel 10 Eyewitness News
 
Govt hoses down fears around disability pension cuts
20 Apr 2014, SBS News
 
Dropping a holiday bombshell on people with disability shows poor judgment
21 Apr 2014, Craig Wallace in The Guardian
 
Tested to breaking point
21 Apr 2014, Craig Wallace in ABC Ramp Up
 
Disability consultation urged
22 Apr 2014, The Examiner
 
People on the DSP are not wasting money, unlike the politicians who stigmatise them
22 Apr 2014, The Conversation
 
No broken promises: Get Real on Jobs for people with disability
23 April 2014, PWDA Media Release
 
Signs low income and vulnerable to bear brunt of Budget repair
24 Apr 2014, ACOSS Media Release

 
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People with Disability Australia (PWDA)
www.pwd.org.au (02) 9370 3100 1800 422 015