Media Release: Great NDIS and Job Support Wins, But Harsh Welfare Measures for People with Disability

WWDA and Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) welcomes some big wins for people with disability in tonight’s Federal Government Budget, but is very concerned by the punitive approach to welfare support that will make life harder for those doing it tough, including people with disability.

“We are extremely pleased to hear that an increase in the Medicare levy will fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme and finally guarantee the support needs of people with disability”, said Ms Therese Sands, Director, DPO Australia. “The NDIS is a critical investment in our social infrastructure, an investment for all Australians, now and into the future”.

“Although we need to see more of the detail, we also welcome the establishment of the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission, which will go a long way to protecting NDIS eligible people with disability from violence and abuse, and providing quality NDIS services.”

“The disability employment service system needs to far better meet the needs of people with disability. We are very pleased to see measures in the budget that will increase flexibility for people with disability to choose and change providers, and a greater onus on providers to deliver jobs, including those with significant employment barriers. Young people with disability will also greatly benefit in their transition to employment with a measure to trial disability employment support to a broader group of school leavers. We look forward to continuing our work with the Federal Government on the details of this package of reforms.”

“We are pleased to see the strong commitment from the Federal Government to funding the Redress Scheme for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, including people with disability, who have given evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse. The funding will go towards establishing the Redress Scheme and will also meet ongoing needs for support services for survivors. DPO Australia will work with the Government to ensure that people with disability have equal access to the scheme.”

“The increases in mutual obligations and the introduction of a demerit system for people with disability that use our social security system are harsh and unfair. Many people with disability want to work, but they face significant barriers in accessibility, support and discrimination. Creating further complex, difficult regimes to access income support for people who are unable to secure work will do nothing to address these barriers.”

“We are particularly concerned about the introduction of drug testing for new welfare recipients and the statement in the Budget Speech that income support would be denied for ‘a disability caused solely by their own substance abuse’”.

“We believe that income management and the use of the cashless welfare card, should not apply to anyone, but particularly people with disability. It is an ineffective and expensive policy measure that should be abandoned, instead of expanded. People with disability who receive income support payments deserve the dignity of being able to manage their funds without this patronising and controlling measure.”

“We are concerned that trialling the Cashless Welfare Card at a time when funding for community programs is being reduced will result in perverse outcomes. Increased funding is needed for diversionary and early intervention programs, otherwise the implementation of the card has the potential to exacerbate negative behaviour.”

“We have scored some great wins in this budget, but concern remains for those on income support who will be affected by punitive changes.”

Media contact:

El Gibbs 0408 682 867