Calls to extend coronavirus supplement to DSP recipients
24 March 2020 at 5:03 pm
Advocates say people with disability need extra support to get through the COVID-19 pandemic
The Morrison government is being urged to extend its coronavirus supplement to the Disability Support Pension, after recipients were excluded from this latest stimulus measure.
This coronavirus supplement – a $550 fortnightly increase to unemployment payments for six months – will be paid to both new and existing recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.
On Monday night, the government agreed to extend the supplement to students and apprentices, but there was no reprieve for Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients.
People on the DSP will instead be given two separate $750 payments over the coming months.
People With Disability Australia CEO Jeff Smith said the coronavirus supplement was needed to keep people on the DSP safe and healthy.
“While we are very pleased to finally see an increase in JobSeeker Payments, which will benefit the many people with disability and chronic illness who are living in extreme poverty, we know that all people with disability are doing it tough in the current crisis,” Smith told Pro Bono News.
“People with disability are overwhelmingly telling us how much they need this extra money to cope with this public health emergency. Many services we rely on are being closed or withdrawn, adding to the expenses we already face.”
PWDA is also calling for all mutual obligation requirements to be suspended, a halt to any expansion of the cashless welfare card, and an end to robodebt.
The Australian Unemployed Workers Union and Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) are among the other organisations demanding DSP recipients are included in the coronavirus supplement.
YACVic CEO Katherine Ellis said young people with a disability needed extra relief.
“The disruption of support workers, services and supplies that are essential to their health and wellbeing means it is crucial that young disabled people have the means to access additional support,” Ellis said.
The Greens have vowed to continue fighting for DSP recipients to be included, but Social Services Minister Anne Ruston indicated on Monday that the government had no plans to extend the payment.
However an amendment to stimulus legislation on Monday gives the minister the power to expand eligibility for the supplement any time over the next six months.
We will keep working to make sure that people on disability support pension and carer support payments are also included https://t.co/u1N8SgvqwF
— Janet Rice (@janet_rice) March 23, 2020
In the meantime, the coronavirus supplement means the JobSeeker Payment will temporarily be higher than the DSP.
But PWDA said DSP recipients considering changing to another jobseeker allowance should first seek advice around this, as they may not qualify to return to the DSP after the supplement is no longer available.
New NDIS measures
Meanwhile, the government has announced extra measures to support National Disability Insurance Scheme recipients throughout the pandemic.
NDIS plans will be extended by up to 24 months, face-to-face planning will be mainly shifted to telephone meetings, and there will be a proactive outreach approach to high-risk participants and data sharing with states and territories to ensure continuity of support.
Providers will also be given financial assistance so they can keep employing their staff.
NDIS Minister Stuart Robert said the government could and would make further changes as needed.
“We have been consulting with NDIS, disability and health stakeholders to understand what actions we need to take to minimise the impact that COVID-19 may have on people with disability, their families, and the network of providers and workers that support them,” Robert said.
“We have a concerted and responsive plan of action to ensure that people with disability can continue to receive the support they need, and that providers have what they need to continue delivering their essential services in these extraordinary circumstances.”