Disability pension pushes Indigenous Australians into poverty


Two in five Indigenous households that rely on the Disability Support pension have run out of money for basic items such as food and fuel in the past year, a new study finds, prompting advocates disabled people to ask the government to urgently review the program.

The research is one of three new studies highlighting the economic and health impacts of disability, especially for aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, officially launched on Tuesday by the Australian Federation of Disabled People’s Organizations (AFDO).

The research found that Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders were two and a half times more likely to receive disability pension than their non-Aboriginal counterparts due to greater exposure to disadvantage, and were more likely to face obstacles when accessing help.

Associate Professor Karen Soldactic, senior author of a report examining the difficulties faced by Indigenous people in accessing DSP, said the extensive evidence required to prove that a person had a permanent disability was often a difficult and expensive exercise.

“For indigenous Australians living in regional and remote areas, it may be impossible to meet medical evidence requirements as well as access treatment due to the lack of readily available specialists and medical services,” Soldactic said. at Pro Bono News.

“There are also very serious implications around their personal time and the resources they must invest in, in order to gather this evidence, to travel long distances to and from appointments to obtain the required medical evidence that is not not funded. “

Applicants also needed significant support and assistance in defending their PSD eligibility, understanding documents and attending appointments.

In many cases, family members, non-medical service providers and doctors have played an advocacy role.

“Informal caregivers then have to take time off work and run out of pay,” Soldactic said.

People with disabilities were found to spend $ 107 more per week on basic living expenses such as transportation and health care than people without disabilities and because of successive government crackdowns on the criteria. program eligibility, many of those who might have been eligible in the past did not have access to the CSP.

The pool of disabled retirees increased from 824,470 in 2014 to 750,045 in 2018.

In 2010-2011, 69% of requests were accepted. Today, only 29.8 percent of applicants are approved.

More than 200,000 people with disabilities were now receiving the lower Newstart Benefit (NSA) and tens of thousands of people were not receiving any assistance.

The report found that more than 13 percent of Indigenous DSP recipients could not afford meals, 23 percent sought financial assistance from welfare groups, and 34 percent went. to family and friends for money.

AFDO CEO Ross Joyce said the financial cost of living with a disability and declining access to PSD caused significant economic, social and psychological stress and unnecessary hardship for people with disabilities.

“Living with a disability comes with many additional costs, including accessible housing, transportation and access to health services. These costs are particularly important for people with disabilities living in regional and remote areas of Australia, ”said Joyce.

AFDO and the authors of the report said the government should immediately review the adequacy of the PSD to ensure that the eligibility process does not lead to additional financial hardship and is fair to all participants.

Joyce said barriers put in place by Labor and coalition governments for people accessing PSD over the past two decades must be removed.

“These changes have not allowed more people with disabilities to work,” he said.

“Instead, they resigned more people with disabilities to poverty and financial insecurity and caused stress and grief.”


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