Rachel’s Story

Rachel’s Story

Disability Advocacy Network Australia CEO Mary Mallett said the shift towards Newstart is a “huge concern” because there is a significant financial difference between the DSP and Newstart.

The basic rate for Newstart is $555 per fortnight, whereas the DSP is about $370 more, at $926 per fortnight including supplements.

“Many of [the recipients] have additional costs just because they have a disability,” Ms Mallet said.

Rachel Park knows all about those additional costs, after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of MS in 2017.

Her symptoms include severe fatigue, muscle pain, blurry vision, memory loss and partial paralysis on the left side of her body.

Like Ms Hunwick, the 24-year-old also thought it would be straightforward when she submitted her DSP application to Centrelink.

“I kind of assumed that they were going to be medical professionals. But they are not,” she said.

Her application was rejected last spring and she was put on Newstart.

“I have to go see Disability Employment Services every fortnight and I have to do a job plan and apply for a certain amount of jobs per month,” she said.

To meet her Newstart requirements, she sends online inquiries to employers and said she rarely gets a response.

Ms Park said her neurologist and doctor advised her not to work.

“When it comes to MS, you really just have to focus on your health… if I get too emotional one day, or I’m too stressed, my left side dies and I’ll be limping around,” she said.

For Ms Park, receiving Newstart instead of the DSP has had a big impact, and she’s now moved back to Brisbane from Sydney to live with her parents.

Her additional expenses including medicine, specialist appointments and therapy to slow her muscle wastage, which can add up to $500 per month.

“[The DSP] would be a huge difference because I wouldn’t have to rely so much on my parents,” she said.

Follow this link to original media story (by Norman Hermant, ABC News)

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