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Concern over timing of Disability Discrimination Commissioner cuts

The Australian Greens said today that the abolition of the specific position of Disability Discrimination Commissioner would undermine efforts to address discrimination, particularly against people with disability entering the workforce.

"The government will soon start dumping people with disability onto Newstart, and they're getting rid of the position of Disability Discrimination Commissioner just as people are even more likely to be exposed to discrimination," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on disabilities said today.

"This budget will see some people with disability aged under 35 subject to reassessments of their Disability Support Pension (DSP), as the government seeks to force them onto Newstart, under the guise of ‘helping' people into work.

"Newstart is more than $160 per week lower than the DSP when pension supplements are taken into account. This is a substantial drop in income and forces people to live on just $36 per day as they look for work. On top of this, we know that job services are woefully inadequate when it comes to helping people with disability find and maintain employment opportunities.

"Discrimination is a serious issue when it comes to employing people with disability, and the role of the Disability Discrimination Commissioner is fundamental to addressing this.

"It is alarming to think that as the government is preparing to put more pressure on people with disability to find work, it is also cutting indexation of the DSP and is undertaking the rollout of the NDIS without a Disability Discrimination Commissioner in place.

"I'm particularly concerned that the Government is pushing people off DSP just as the role of the Commissioner is being reduced. People who should not be moved off DSP may well need the help of the Disability Commissioner to look into these matters.

"Tony Abbott would rather silence important social advocates than ask mining companies to pay a fair amount of tax or a fair price for their fuel," Senator Siewert concluded.


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