Keeping the Dole Low Will Increase Hardship, Not Employment – Disability Groups
Thursday, 12th January 2012 at 10:42 am
People with Disability Australia (PWD) and the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (ADFO) have expressed disappointment about comments made by Federal Employment Minister Bill Shorten ruling out increases to the Newstart Allowance.
AFDO and PWD call on Shorten and the Federal Government to rethink this statement and to consider implementing the modest increases to the Newstart Allowance which were recommended in the Henry Report of 2010.
The Minister’s comments came during an interview with Tim Webster on 2UE Mornings.
“Mr Shorten’s statement appears to ignore widespread calls from the business sector, welfare groups, unions and the community to bring the allowance up to more liveable levels,” says Jan Daisley, PWD President.
“Keeping Newstart at this extremely low level does nothing to increase a persons’ capacity to access long-term employment. Ultimately, people find it harder to pay the costs associated with looking for work and miss out on community participation in the meantime,” says Daisley.
In their 2010 Economic Survey of Australia, the OECD argued that the large gap between Newstart and DSP benefits has reduced the incentive to work, because people experiencing unemployment have an incentive to apply for the DSP instead of Newstart.
“People with disability and their representative organisations support incentives which enable people with disability to get into the workforce, yet ensure that the needs of people who are totally reliant on the DSP or Newstart Allowance are fully met,” says Daisley.
Leslie Hall, CEO of AFDO, points to the difficulty that people with disability receiving the Newstart Allowance have in making ends meet.
“Mr Shorten has rightly highlighted the additional costs of living faced by people with disability, and some changes have been made in recent years to the Disability Support pension (DSP) to address these. But the disparity of $131 per week between the rate of Newstart and the DSP directly affects the one in seven Newstart recipients who have a disability which limits the amount or types of work they can do. For these people, meeting the costs of disability and having the things critical to finding work – such as access to public transport or specialised equipment – is often impossible,” says Hall.
“The continued tightening of DSP eligibility requirements are forcing even more people with disability onto the Newstart allowance, whilst they wait for their opportunity to gain employment. We cannot see how this will help improve the shocking statistic that forty-five per cent of people with disability in Australia live in or near poverty, the worst result amongst all the OECD countries,” says Hall.