Disability pension claimants must be treated with dignity, rights commissioner says

Ben Gauntlett told the Senate inquiry into the object, intent and adequacy of the DSP on Monday that there was a need to “actively consider” whether the eligibility requirements and payment amount were “suitable for the goal”.

Over the past few months, the Inquiry has heard a series of long-standing concerns about payment administration,

and accusations that the process was intentionally difficult to navigate.

DSP requests have been rejected at much higher rates than other government payments in recent years, with


The inquiry also heard concerns that candidates are being pushed into poverty with much lower payments with job search requirements, being forced to drain their superannuation to survive financially and that departments don’t understand not the complex nature of the disability.


Dr Gauntlett said on Monday there needed to be an “appreciation of respect for the human rights” of DSP candidates, especially those from certain population cohorts.

“[We need to make] ensure that testing is non-discriminatory in nature and takes into account factors such as whether people are culturally and linguistically diverse or come from remote areas… and that provision is made for people with psychosocial disabilities or underlying intellectual disability are treated with dignity and respect throughout the process,” he said.

The DSP pays up to $868.30 per fortnight to a person if “a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric deficiency” prevents him from working more than 15 hours per week.

Applicants must collect many pages of medical evidence, which can be onerous and expensive, and prove that their condition is “fully diagnosed, treated and stabilized” – a prerequisite that



Department of Social Services spokesman Troy Sloan told Monday’s hearing that he understood that those found ineligible for DSP would likely be frustrated with the system.

“But there has to be a process to determine eligibility. We try to make it as simple as possible, but it still has to be very rigorous,” he said.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said last week that there were “further provisions” in the welfare system to support people who do not meet DSP requirements.

“Six Magical Tongues”

Advocates for culturally and linguistically diverse people with disabilities have told hearing people from multicultural backgrounds that navigating the system can be particularly difficult.

“It is very difficult for our people with disabilities from diverse cultures and languages ​​to apply for DSP because they may not understand the type of doctor’s report and the information they need to collect,” said Siyat Abdi, lawyer in Kin, formerly the Ethnic Disabled Advocacy Center.

Residency requirements also affect people with CALD backgrounds, according to the survey.

To qualify for the DSP, applicants must have been Australian residents for at least 10 consecutive years, or a total of 10 years with no break in residency for five of those years.


Dr Abdi said Kin would like to see this aspect changed, “so as not to expose [migrants] vulnerability and financial hardship.

“It has actually been a very serious situation during COVID where migrants who have to wait 10 years have not been given any consideration. We see this as an aspect of discrimination.

Under another residency rule, a DSP beneficiary’s payments will stop if they leave Australia for more than four weeks.

“You can only go away for a certain number of weeks, you can’t live abroad and there are other issues that get in the way of CALD people in terms of maintaining close and meaningful relationships within their family and their extended family,” National said. Dwayne Cranfield, CEO of the Ethnic Disability Alliance.

Mr Cranfeld also told the hearing that NEDA was concerned about the lack of data and awareness for emerging CALD communities in Australia, given the “overreliance” on resources in the “six magic languages ​​that government departments want make”.


“There will be Greek, Spanish and Vietnamese… but the reality is that a lot of people who needed Greek translations, they all speak English now,” he said.

“We have to do things in Farsi. We have to do things in Urdu. This is what we need to examine. Diversity has changed in this country.

Services Australia spokesman Brendan Moon said the language services provided by the origin were “pretty decent”.

“We have a pretty strong network of interpreters available in the organization,” he said. “In terms of consumer translation, it’s a really solid, mature and well-established service. I understand that there are less common languages ​​which can be somewhat difficult.

Mr Moon said Services Australia captures a range of CALD-related information from applicants, including whether someone needs an interpreter, their preferred spoken and written languages, country of birth, citizenship and other countries in which he has lived.

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