AUSTRALIA - The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is urging the Federal government to maintain the current assessment process for the Disability Support Pension amid talk of a crackdown.
ACOSS outlined ten “myths and facts” gleaned from recent research, that it says aim to “counter misinformation in public debate”.
The council is concerned the government may try to reintroduce the 2002 legislation defeated in the Senate that would limit people’s access to the disability pension.
“Many arguments used to justify a crackdown on disability pensions are false or misleading,” said ACOSS president Andrew McCallum.
“It’s not true that ‘it’s easy to get the DSP’ or that ‘governments put people on DSP to hide unemployment’. This research outlines the facts of who is on the DSP and why.”
According to ACOSS: most Australians do not support a tough approach to people on DSP; recipients must have a serious medical condition independently assessed by doctors and vocational experts in order to receive the pension; the doubling of the number of recipients of the pension over the last 15 years is due to increased recognition of disabilities in society, the closure of payments and pensions to older women, the decline in number of low-skilled full time jobs and lack of employer support for people with disabilities.
Other “facts” set out by ACOSS included that 33% of people on DSP have musculo-skeletal disabilities, 25% have psychological and psychiatric conditions, 11% have intellectual and learning disabilities, 5% circulatory system problems and 21% other conditions.
ACOSS said a recent survey found that half of Australians felt it was reasonable to ask DSP recipients to retrain, participate in their community or improve their literacy skills but two thirds did not support requirements for people with disabilities to look for work. In addition, 75% of those surveyed did not support requirements for people with disabilities to participate in Work for the Dole.
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