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Senate supports inquiry into Disability Support Pension 

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 17 May 2021

The Senate has supported a Greens referral to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee to conduct a Senate inquiry into the purpose, intent and adequacy of the Disability Support Pension (DSP). 
There have been a series of changes and cost-saving measures over recent years that have reduced the number of people able to access the Disability Support Program. Since then, there has been a sharp decline in people applying for and being approved for the DSP. 
These changes have also seen a significant increase in sick and disabled people on other payments and having to deal with the JobActive and Disability Employment Services system. These changes also mean that many people must complete a so called Program of Support.
Labour force participation rates for disabled people have remained static for the past 20 years despite Disability Employment Services receiving significant levels of funding. This is an issue that causes a great deal of concern to disabled people.
The inquiry will shine a light on these serious issues and give disabled people and community members an opportunity to make submissions on programs and policies that have such significant impact on their lives.
Terms of reference:
That the following matter be referred to the Community Affairs References Committee, for inquiry and report by Tuesday 30 November 2021:

The purpose, intent and adequacy of the Disability Support Pension, with specific reference to:

a. the purpose of the Disability Support Pension;

b. the Disability Support Pension eligibility criteria, assessment and determination, including the need for health assessments and medical evidence and the right to review and appeal;

c. the impact of geography, age and other characteristics on the number of people receiving the Disability Support Pension; 

d. the impact of the Disability Support Pension on a disabled person’s ability to find long term, sustainable and appropriate, employment within the open labour market;

e. the capacity of the Disability Support Pension to support persons with disabilities, chronic conditions and ill health, including its capacity to facilitate and support labour market participation where appropriate;

f. discrimination within the labour market and its impact on employment, unemployment and underemployment of persons with disabilities and their support networks;

g. the adequacy of the Disability Support Pension and whether it allows people to maintain an acceptable standard of living in line with community expectations; 

h. the appropriateness of current arrangements for supporting disabled people experiencing insecure employment, inconsistent employment, precarious hours in the workforce; and inequitable workplace practices;

i. the economic benefits of improved income support payments and supports for persons with disabilities, their immediate households and broader support services and networks;

j. the relative merits of alternative investments in other programs to improve the standard of living of persons with disabilities; 

k. any related matters. 

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