Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Special Disability Trusts

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers

The Australian Government today introduced legislation to change the rules surrounding Special Disability Trusts to give families and carers of people with severe disability more flexibility in how their investment in trusts will benefit their loved one.

The Government expects that the Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Budget and Other Measures) Bill 2010, introduced into Parliament today, will encourage more families to establish Special Disability Trusts.

From 1 January next year reforms will be introduced so that:

  • People with disability will be able to work up to seven hours a week in the open labour market and still qualify as a beneficiary of a Trust;
  • The Trust will be able to pay for the beneficiary’s medical expenses, including membership costs for private health funds, and the maintenance expenses of assets and properties; and
  • The Trust will be able to spend up to $10,000 in a financial year on discretionary items not related to care and accommodation needs of the beneficiary to support social and community participation of the beneficiary.

Special Disability Trusts were introduced by the previous Government in 2006 however initial take up was slow due to the restrictive and inflexible policy design.

In 2008 the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs found that take-up of Special Disability Trusts had been lower than expected and made recommendations to address this.

This legislation responds to those recommendations and the Government expects more families and carers will now establish trusts as a result of these changes.

Special Disability Trusts give families and carers peace of mind about the care of their loved one with a severe disability. The trusts also attract generous social security means test concessions for the beneficiary and eligible contributors.

The Australian Government is delivering on its commitment to support people with disability, their families and carers, and make government services more accessible.