To: Jenny Macklin MP for FaHCSIA and Disability Reform; Senator Jan McLucas Secretary for Disabilities and Carers; Mitch Fifield Shadow Minister for Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary sector
PROBLEM: From the 1st of July 2012, Paid Parental Leave was increased to $606.50 a week, to keep in line with the National Minimum Wage. At the same time, the full Disability Support Pension (and therefore Carer Payment) remain at $695.30 a fortnight, a measly 57% of current minimum wage!
In addition to the above inequality, unless an individual is Blind or Vision Impaired (BVI) a person living with any other Permanent and Severely Restrictive Disability – like an individual confined to a wheelchair, are only “allowed” to earn (a maximum of) $150 per fortnight, before their pension is adversely affected.
SOLUTION: Remove the “means test” for all Australian’s living with Permanent, Severe and Profound Disabilities, not just for those Blind or Vision Impaired. This will enable equality for people living with ‘other’ lifelong disabilities by removing the current discrimination while providing new and empowering opportunities for those that are able to enter the workforce.
For more detailed specifics and examples, read the Introduction and Disability Report available at www.melleckie.com
Why is this important?
Living with a Permanent, Profound and Severe Disability is not cheap. The page addressed below gives a detailed account of such, but you only need to glance at the first sentence to understand how ‘Disabling’ the Disability Support Pension really is :o(
Having a disability for life is currently physically; financially; socially; emotionally; and psychologically taxing – and not just for the person living with disabilities, but many of these challenges and demands are passed on to their family, friends, carer(s) and colleagues too.
As Senator Fifield stated at the 2012 National Disability Services Conference:
“I think part of the reason why many people on the disability support pension find it a real struggle is because the DSP, we’re looking at it to do more things than it was intended to do. The DSP is meant to be an income support but because there isn’t proper support for people with disability, people have to use that DSP money to seek to purchase forms of support which they aren’t receiving. So we’re expecting it to be income support but we’re also expecting it to do far more than that. Part of the answer is an NDIS so that people don’t have to try and make the DSP do things that it was never designed to do.”
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is long overdue and will provide a lifeline to the families that need it most. The downside is the number of years it will take to get such a vital and revolutionary system running successfully across Australia.
For those living with permanent disabilities that may be able to work: Whether full time, part time, casual or intermittent; enabling people to enter the workforce without discrimination or any loss of necessary support would not only assist each individual by enhancing their personal goals and aspirations, it would also educate the general public and remove much of the stigma that engulfs many people currently living with lifelong disabilities.
As well as giving those living with ongoing disabilities the opportunity to contribute to society and local communities to the best of their ability, another advantage of removing the income/assets tests for people with permanent disabilities (to receive full DSP), could also include reducing excessive waiting lists and the ongoing financial strain that currently exists in all Federal, State and Non-Government Organisations (NGO’s) that support people with disabilities.
For Example, If a (relatively independent) wheelchair bound individual was empowered and able to work and earn an income (pay taxes) and still receive the disability support pension as those Blind or Vision Impaired have always been able to do: They would be able to use their pension to cover the ongoing and extensive medical costs (appointments, prescriptions, catheters etc.) live a functional and meaningful life and potentially (income dependent) purchase their own future equipment (wheelchair), house and necessary home modifications without having to rely on the State’s Disability Services and indefinite waiting times to fund all of the above!