Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New approach to better support people into work

Legislation passed by the Parliament today will support people with disability to participate in the workforce wherever possible.

From 3 September people applying for the Disability Support Pension (DSP), other than people who have a severe disability or illness, will have to show they have tried to get help to find work or tried to get skills for work before they can be eligible for the disability pension.

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

Currently, people can 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.

There are more than 800,000 Australians of working age receiving the DSP with very few people returning to work once they start receiving it.

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.

The new requirements support for people who have some capacity for work into training and work 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.

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.

This is one of a series of reforms the Government is delivering to support people with disability to participate in the workforce and the community.

From 1 January next year eligibility for the DSP will be assessed using updated impairment tables to ensure the most up-to-date medical and rehabilitation practices are taken into account.

We are also introducing new participation requirements for young people on the DSP who have some capacity to work.

From 1 July next year people under 35 who have some capacity to work will be required to attend participation interviews with Centrelink and develop individualised participation plans. For the first time these people will be required to set goals to get new skills, participate in rehabilitation, volunteer or try work.

Over the last three years the Government has introduced a range of measures to build a fairer and effectively targeted income support system.

Today’s legislation also extends indexation pauses on higher income limits for a further two years until 30 June 2014 for a range of family payments, including Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B, Baby Bonus and Paid Parental Leave.

Pausing indexation of the upper income limits and higher income free area for family payments is not new and this legislation will only extend the freeze for two years.

In addition, the Family Tax Benefit end of year supplements will be held at their current levels for the next three years.

The age of eligibility for Family Tax Benefit Part A will now align with the age of independence for Youth Allowance.

The Government welcomed the Opposition’s support for this legislation in the Parliament.