Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Supporting people with disability to try work

From today people applying for the Disability Support Pension (DSP), other than people with a severe disability or illness, will have to show they have tried to get help to find work before they can be eligible for the disability pension.

Previously people could apply for the DSP without having to demonstrate that they have looked for work.

Almost half of new applicants apply for the DSP without having sought assistance from employment or rehabilitation services that could help them get a job.

People with severe disability or illness who are clearly unable to work will be fast-tracked to ensure they receive support quickly.

This reform was announced in 2010-11 Budget and is aimed at helping people with disabilities return to the workforce wherever possible by focusing on their ability, rather than their disability. In this year’s Budget, implementation of this reform was fast tracked, from 1 January 2012 to 3 September 2011.

To satisfy these new requirements, most people applying for the DSP will have to provide evidence that they have been unable to obtain employment through an open employment service, a disability employment service or vocational rehabilitation.

Under these new rules people whose claim for the DSP is rejected will be supported to build their skills and capacity, and to look for work.

To assist people with disability to get help to find work the Government is investing more than $3 billion over the next four years to uncap access to Disability Employment Services.

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

The Government is committed to ensuring people with disability can access these opportunities wherever possible.

While the DSP will continue to be an important part of our social safety net, the Government believes we can do better than a lifetime spent on income support for Australians who have some capacity to work.

This builds on reforms to the DSP introduced over the last three years. We have introduced more thorough assessments of claims for the DSP, other than in cases which are clear cut.

Eligibility for the DSP is now assessed by experienced Senior Job Capacity Assessors using updated guidelines. Since these reforms began on 1 July 2010 the rate at which disability pension claims are granted has fallen from 63.3 per cent to 55.6 per cent at 1 July 2011 – a drop of more than 7 percentage points.

Of course we know that more needs to be done. That’s why we are also updating the Impairment Tables used to assess eligibility for the Disability Support Pension so that people applying will be assessed based on what they can do and not what they can’t do.

The new tables will apply to people applying for the Disability Support Pension from 1 January next year.