Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Four Month Extension of Current Disability Agreement

The current Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement is due to expire on 30 June 2002.

The Commonwealth is presently in negotiations with the States and Territories to formulate the next agreement and within that to settle on new transparent accountability measures so that the public, including people with disabilities, can clearly see where the money goes.

In this year’s Budget, the Commonwealth announced a comprehensive package of measures to provide increased assistance and services to people with the highest support needs in our community.

The reforms to eligibility of the Disability Support Pension are vital because they underpin the long term fiscal sustainability of the increased Commonwealth assistance announced in the Budget.

These reforms will affect new applicants from 1 July next year. We expect the reforms will, each year, affect only 3% of the people with the lowest levels of disability currently on the DSP.

We hope the States and Territories will support our reforms that will direct increased funds to the services that they provide for people with disabilities.

In order to ensure that the sector and people with disabilities are not distressed while these negotiations are finalised, the Commonwealth is offering to the States and Territories a rollover of the current Agreement for four months.