Calls for reform

New research reveals people on the disability support pension are spending $100 a week more on basic living costs than Australians without a disability.

People on the disability support pension spend $107 a week more on basic living costs than other Australians, new data shows.

The NATSEM report into the standard of living for people with disability is one of three new studies by Australian Universities launched at Parliament House on Tuesday.

It highlights the economic and health impacts of disability, particularly for Indigenous Australians.

“There are a lot of additional costs of living with disability including accessible housing, transport and access to health services,” Ross Joyce, chief executive of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations said.

“These costs are particularly acute for people with disability living in regional and remote areas of Australia.”

The report found two of every five Indigenous households relying on the DSP as their source of income ran out of money for basic living expenses in the last 12 months.

Report author, Professor Laurie Brown said income support provided through the DSP does not adequately provide these families with the same standard of living as households that are similar in every other way but who have no family member with disability.

“The gaps in standards of living are much higher for households where a family member with disability is on Newstart,” Professor Brown said.

Urgent reforms needed

Advocates are calling for an urgent review into the adequacy of the pension.

The AFDO is concerned eligibility thresholds are so tight that more than 200,000 people are now on the lower Newstart payment.

It estimates tens of thousands are not receiving any support out all, saying successive Governments have made meeting the eligibility threshold so difficult that many people with disability, who may have been eligible in the past, can no longer access the pension.

Mr Joyce said over the past two decades both the coalition and Labor put barriers in place for people with disabilities to access support payments, in order to save money.

“We need to wind-back those changes because they haven’t resulted in more people with disability working,” he said.

“Instead they’ve resigned more people with disability to poverty and financial insecurity and caused stress and heartache.”

Follow this link to media article (SBS News)

Share this