DSP changes must include increase in unemployment benefit

30 July 2011

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie today said that ACOSS is broadly supportive of the Government’s attempt to give more people living on the Disability Support Pension an opportunity to be involved in paid work.

“However hand in hand with this the Government will need to provide more incentives for employers to provide real job opportunities to people with various degrees of disabilities. And crucially the Government will need to increase unemployment allowances, especially Newstart and Sole Parenting allowances.

“People on Newstart receive $128 per week less than those on DSP or Aged Pension, that’s just $34 a day for all their living expenses like rent, food, transport and bills, which simply is not enough to live on.

“Unless there is a dramatic improvement in the job prospects of people with disabilities, all the tightening of access to DSP will achieve is to leave people with disabilities $128 per week poorer.

“There are already 100,000 people with disabilities languishing on Newstart Allowance, which is $238pw for a single adult because they cannot find a job. Employers, including the Government, will need to ensure they do their part, tackling discrimination and providing the right supports.

“People with disabilities usually face extra costs, whether it be medications or higher transport costs. It is impossible for anyone to live with dignity on Newstart let alone people with disability.

“We call on the government to finally and urgently increase this payment and reduce the gap between DSP and Newstart (as proposed by the Henry Review) that discourages many people with disabilities from trying their hand at employment.

“We must ensure that any changes to the rules do not just result in pushing more people onto these lower paying allowances – and unless they are increased we face the very real prospect of more people falling into poverty,” Dr Goldie said.

Media contact: Fernando de Freitas – ACOSS – 0419 626 155