Advocates have expressed concern about the ceasing of the current Mobility Allowance, paid through Centrelink, and the impact it will have on people living with disability.
The decision to end the Mobility Allowance, with transport costs now funded through individual National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plans, has created an uncertain future for people with disability, says El Gibbs, Director, Media and Communications at People with Disability Australia (PWDA).
“We are disappointed that the mobility allowance is being removed, while the future of transport funding for people with disability is still unclear. We know that many people with disability, including those who are not eligible for the NDIS, face barriers to accessing transport, including public transport, which can increase their regular expenses.
“In particular, the new social distancing requirements for public transport during COVID-19 increase these barriers for many people with disability and make the mobility allowance even more important,” Ms Gibbs says.
Mobility Allowance is currently paid directly to a recipient over the age of 16 via Centrelink, to help those who cannot use public transport travel to and from home so they can attend activities like work, study, training or job search.
A tentative closing date of July 1, 2020, was announced as a part of the 2016–2017 Budget. However, according to a Department of Social Services spokesperson, there is no current legislation to enact the change.
“This matter is now under review, and there is no legislation currently before the Parliament to enact this change.
“The original decision to close Mobility Allowance to new applicants from July 1, 2020, was announced in the 2016-17 Budget in the context of the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.”
Maggie Rutjens, Program Manager at Disability Advocacy and Complaints Service of South Australia Inc (DACSSA), says that the ability to access transport and mobility is a human right and needs to be made accessible to people with disability.
“The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities discusses how important community accessibility is for people with disabilities in order to access their physical environment on the same basis as others.
“It’s DACSSA’s belief through understanding the lived experience of our clients, that both state and federal governments have an obligation to ensure transport is available and accessible to people with disability.”
With the transition to the NDIS continuing across the country, PWDA is calling for an extension to the current Mobility Allowance to ensure people who are not eligible for the NDIS are able to access transport.
Ms Gibbs says, “PWDA calls on Minister [Anne] Ruston to extend the mobility allowance further, until other measures have been put in place, particularly for people with disability who are not eligible for the NDIS.”
Ms Rutjens says that DACSSA has already received concerns about the ceasing of Mobility Allowance.
“DACSSA has received concerns from NDIS participants whose MOB (Mobility Allowance) has ceased. In these matters, participants are often concerned that the NDIS transport support is far less than what the MOB was, meaning they are not able to access transport in the same way.
“Additionally, there are people with disability who do not meet access criteria for the NDIS, who will not be able to receive MOB to lessen the impact of their disability on transport and community access.”
With the transition to the NDIS, supports are not guaranteed when it comes to accessing transport options, says Ms Rutjens.
“Supports are deemed eligible per legislative criteria, mostly annually, at planning meetings. It is not able to be guaranteed that a person's transport support funding will be provided each year, and this brings about concerns for continuity and goal planning for participants.”
According to the Department of Social Services, the Australian Government will provide Continuity of Support (CoS) arrangements for existing Mobility Allowance recipients who are ineligible for the NDIS.
Now that the NDIS rollout has been completed in most states any existing Mobility Allowance recipients, who are ineligible for the NDIS, will be ‘grandfathered’ and continue to receive their payment until they no longer meet the eligibility criteria or exit the program.
How will the closing of Mobility Allowance impact you? Tell us in the comments below or send an email to [email protected].