Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Assisting jobseekers and people with disability return to work

Joint Media Release with:

  • Julia Gillard MP, Deputy Prime Minister Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
    Senator Mark Arbib, Minister for Employment Participation
    Bill Shorten MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services

The Rudd Government will improve assessments for disadvantaged jobseekers and people with disabilities to ensure that appropriate employment services and income support are provided.

New Disability Support Pension (DSP) assessments will help people with disabilities return to the workforce by focusing on their ability, rather than their disability.

The DSP is an essential feature of Australia’s social safety net but it is imperative it reaches the people who need it most.

The Government is committed to giving those people with a disability who may be able to work the encouragement and support they need to get and keep a job.

These reforms will provide faster, more sustainable support for people with severe disabilities, while referring others with the potential to work to employment services including Job Services Australia and Disability Employment Services.

While the eligibility for the DSP will not change, applicants will be required to provide sufficient evidence that they are unable to work independently, even with assistance and support.

To satisfy this requirement, most applicants will have to provide evidence that they have been unable to obtain employment through an open employment service or vocational rehabilitation.

Currently, people can apply for DSP without having to demonstrate that they have investigated alternative employment options.

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

The changes will be introduced to coincide with the implementation of the revised DSP Impairment Tables from 1 January 2012.

The Impairment Tables were last reviewed in 1993 and contain anomalies and inconsistencies which have distorted the assessment process.

They are now being updated to make them consistent with contemporary medical and rehabilitation practice.

The reforms build on the Better and Fairer Assessment initiatives announced in the last Federal Budget including the establishment of a new Health Professional Advice Unit within Centrelink.

This unit provides DSP assessors with independent advice on what might be suitable treatment to help someone return to work and medical opinion on more thorough assessments of borderline claims.

Disadvantaged job seekers will benefit from new assessments to refer them to the most appropriate employment services and to identify levels of support to match their needs.

From 1 July 2011 all job capacity assessments of job seekers and DSP claimants will all be completed by Centrelink, with the assistance of CRS Australia.

This will provide greater consistency in determining the needs of disadvantaged jobseekers and people with disability.

It is estimated these reforms will deliver a saving to Australian taxpayers of $383.4 million over four years to 2014.