The experiences of people trying to access the Disability Support Pension (DSP) are set to be examined as part of a Senate inquiry into the payment’s eligibility criteria and review processes.
The inquiry will look into the purpose, intent and adequacy of the DSP, with the expectation of releasing a final report by the end of November. The upper house agreed to Greens Senator Rachel Siewert's motion last Thursday, putting the inquiry in place.
Senator Siewert hopes the senate committee findings will inform a review to the DSP impairment tables, expected to come into place next year, to ensure people with disability were receiving appropriate financial assistance.
"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," Senator Siewert says.
"Since then, there has been a sharp decline in people applying for and being approved for the DSP.”
Senator Siewert says forcing people to connect with the federal government’s employment services systems, including JobActive and the Disability Employment Services system, appears to also increasingly prevent people living with disability from finding meaningful and stable work.
“Labour force participation rates for disabled people have remained static for the past 20 years despite Disability Employment Services receiving significant levels of funding,” Senator Siewert says.
“This is an issue that causes a great deal of concern to disabled people.”
The inquiry’s broad terms of reference include probing whether the pension can support a disabled person's ability to find long-term, sustainable and appropriate employment.
Senators will also look at whether the payments allow people to maintain an acceptable standard of living in line with community expectations.
“We’re hoping to hear from people with disability and people who’ve been trying to get DSP or have been rejected.
“We want to hear about people’s lived experience and how they’ve gone with the program of support.
“Is it meeting the needs of people with disability?
“And how many [people with disability] are living on another payment because they couldn’t get DSP?
“It’s caused people a great deal of distress.”
The senate will begin calling for submissions into the inquiry in the coming weeks, with hearings to be announced later this year and submissions due 25 June 2021.
The final report will be handed down on 30 November 2021.