Reform should focus on getting people with disability into ongoing jobs

Mon 6 January 2014

An opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald says that the government's proposed overhaul of the Disability Support Pension should change its focus from moving people off the disability pension, to getting people into ongoing employment.

The opinion piece - by the leaders of each of Australian Council of Social Services, People with Disability Australia and the National Welfare Rights Network - challenges media reports that suggest that there are too many people on the payment who are not entitled to it.

The authors say that the rise in disability pension recipients over the past decade is due to a combination of: “our ageing and increasing population, the rise in the age pension eligibility age for women, improved survival rates following traumatic health conditions, better disclosure of people who have a mental illness, the closing off of other payments such as the widows' allowance, and crucially, sadly, a significant reduction in the employment rates of people with disability partly due to structural changes in the labour market.”

In response to the government’s proposed review of the disability support pension, the opinion piece authors say that the focus of reform should be on getting people into ongoing employment while ensuring those unable to get paid work can lead a decent dignified life with adequate income support.

Read full opinion piece.

Australian Network on Disability supports a balanced long-term approach to boosting the employment of people with disability in Australia that involves collaboration between employers, government funded employment services and government systems. The current employment programmes give little consideration to employers and the need for good job matching.  As a result, a high proportion of people with disability who commence employment do not reach the 26 week retention mark – the Department of Employment’s current definition of success.

In working towards the re-development of employment services 2015, a high priority needs to be given to genuine engagement with employers and the significant role they can play in assisting unemployed Australians with disability to shift from poverty to sharing in Australia’s prosperity.


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