Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Breaking down barriers for people with disability

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Bill Shorten MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services

A new report released today on disability support pensioners shows that under the Howard Government fewer than one-in-ten people on the Disability Support Pension were in any kind of paid work.

The report, Characteristics of Disability Support Pension Recipients, profiles the 714,156 people receiving the Disability Support Pension (DSP) at 30 June 2007.

Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs , Jenny Macklin, said: “Governments cannot afford to dismiss the contributions people with disability can make, both economically and socially.

“The report shows that the number of people receiving the disability pension had increased over the year to June 2007, but the percentage in work had dropped by 0.3 per cent to just 9.9 per cent.

“This Government is determined to change this situation by reducing the barriers that stop people with disability getting jobs.”

The report shows that 22.1 per cent of DSP earners reported earnings of less than $100 per fortnight and 19.5 per cent reported earnings of between $500 and $1000 per fortnight.

“DSP provides a safety net to ensure access to adequate income for people with disability, who are unable to participate in the workforce for 15 hours per week. Recipients are not required to look for work,” Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, said.

A report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development released in December 2007 – Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers: Australia, Luxembourg, Spain and the United Kingdom – emphasised the need to improve workforce participation for people with disability.

Benefits for employers include increased productivity, diversity and accessibility of workers, while benefits for employees with disability include improving skills, motivation and independence.

Characteristics of Disability Support Pension Recipients has been produced annually since 2001.