Senate Rejects Changes to Disability Support Pension
Tuesday, 27th June 2017 at 8:39 am
Australia’s peak body for social services has welcomed the senate’s rejection of a proposal to deny people with a serious substance addiction access to the Disability Support Pension.
The federal government proposal, outlined in the 2017 budget, would have stripped the disability support payment for recipients who had a disability as a result of substance abuse.
In light of the proposals the medical community and some of the nation’s biggest charities implored the senate to reject the “mean” and “punitive measure”.
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council CEO Dr John Falzon said the reforms were a “cruel and vindictive attack on a small but extremely disadvantaged group of people who struggle with chronic substance abuse”.
“Targeting people in this way will simply push those who are battling addictions further to the margins of society,” Falzon said.
The Royal Australian College of Physicians said the proposal was “flawed” and could have caused more harm than good.
“It wouldn’t encourage people with drug and alcohol problems to seek the support or treatment they need from drug and alcohol treatment services,” they said.
The Labor backed motion to reject the reforms was supported by the Greens, Nick Xenophon Team, Jacqui Lambie and Derryn Hinch.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said the senate’s block was a “win”.
“If someone has an ongoing limited capacity to work, regardless of whether they have an addiction or not, they should have access to the pension,” Goldie said.
In a statement Labor shadow minister for families and social services Jenny Macklin said people with a serious and permanent disability as a consequence of substance addiction should not be stripped of their pensions.
“People with disability who are eligible for DSP under Impairment Table 6 have been determined by a specialist doctor that they are unable to work again because of the effects of their substance addiction,” Macklin said.
“In order to be assessed against the impairment tables, a doctor needs to have confirmed that a person’s condition is fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised – this means that an individual’s impairment is permanent.
“If the government’s changes had proceeded, vulnerable people who are already in a desperate situation would have been pushed into poverty, homelessness and potentially crime.”