Jan 12, 2004

Extra resources needed for DSP plan to work


Joint Media Release:
Anthony Albanese MP, Shadow Minister for Employment Services and Training, and
Wayne Swan MP, Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services

12 Januray 2004

In order to help people on disability pensions into work the Government must roll up its sleeves and allocate additional resources rather than siphon funds from the existing flawed Job Network funding model.

Reports today that people on Disability Support Pension may receive targeted assistance to help them find work is a welcome departure from the Howard Government’s previous plans to simply cut their pensions and push them onto dole queues.

However Labor will closely scrutinise the plans given the Job Network’s poor performance in helping long-term unemployed and the sinister possibility this latest proposal is merely another attempt to prop up cash strapped providers.

This plan as announced has all the hallmarks of a third Job Network bailout.

Simply pushing the people on DSP into an under-resourced job network will be a cruel hoax for those with disabilities who want to work.

For the plan to work the additional resources should be placed directly into the disabled person’s job seeker account to be spent of genuine assistance such as training and wage subsidy programs – not just used to improve Job Network member’s cash flow.

Labor has always argued that people with disabilities need genuine help, encouragement, and willing employers, rather than a big stick.

We do need to encourage and enable the participation of those who are currently on payments who have a capacity but are currently outside the workforce.

People with disabilities have been ignored for too long by the Howard Government.

In the last financial year just under 10% of people on DSP have employment related earnings – that is around 63,000 people out of a population of 673,000.

The poor outcomes are hardly a surprise given that less than 3,000 people last year had access to a wage subsidy and only 236 accessed Government-funded workplace modifications.

In terms of active rehabilitation and training assistance, the OECD has pointed out Australia offers fewer places than the total number of new entrants to the Disability Support Pension each year.

We must be prepared to work intensively to ensure there are genuine resources to help the disabled and there is a clear pathway to work if they are able to participate.