Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

Supporting people with disability into work

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform

Australians with disability will receive greater support to help them into work where possible under legislation introduced into Parliament today.

The Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Disability Support Pension Participation Reforms) Bill 2012 introduces new participation requirements for Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients who have some capacity to work.

The Bill also introduces more generous rules to allow DSP recipients to work up to 30 hours a week and continue to receive a part-pension, subject to income and assets testing.

From 1 July this year:

  • For the first time DSP recipients aged under 35 years with some capacity to work will be required to attend regular participation interviews with Centrelink to develop participation plans, to help build their capacity and overcome barriers to work; and
  • All DSP recipients will be able to work up to 30 hours a week without their payment being suspended or cancelled, subject to the income test. Currently DSP recipients granted after 11 May 2005 can only work up to 15 hours a week before their payment is suspended or cancelled. These people find it difficult to find work that is limited to only 15 hours a week and many want to work more hours. This important change will give people with disability the security they need to test their ability to work more hours, without worrying about losing qualification for the disability pension. This will encourage about an estimated 4,000 DSP recipients to take up work, and an estimated 3,900 DSP recipients who are already employed to work extra hours.

The Government believes we can do better than a lifetime spent on income support for Australians who have some capacity to work.

A job provides more than just a pay packet—it gives people dignity and purpose, provides security for the future and connects people to their community.

That’s why this Labor Government is taking steps to make it easier for people on the disability support pension to get and keep a job.

In addition to these changes to the DSP, the Government is delivering extra support for people with disability, including more employment services and new financial incentives for employers to take on more people with disability.

The Government will also ensure the DSP continues to be an essential safety net for Australians who are unable to work.

The Bill also introduces new, more generous rules from 1 July this year that allow DSP recipients who have a severe and permanent disability and no future work capacity to travel overseas for more than 13 weeks while retaining access to their pension.

Today the Government also introduced the Family Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 to deliver on changes announced in the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook to strengthen incentives for immunisation, by linking the Family Tax Benefit part A supplement to immunisations from 1 July 2012.

The Bill also helps make sure the family payment system is sustainable into the future, by resetting the baby bonus to $5000 from 1 September this year. The baby bonus has increased by 67 per cent since it was introduced in 2004, and this measure will provide a saving to the Budget of $358 million over four years.

This Bill will also deliver on commitments under the Australian Government’s National Carers Strategy, announced in August last year.

Carers play a critical role in the community, often combining paid work with their caring responsibilities.

The Bills are expected to be debated in the coming weeks.