A4 sent the following message to the Prime Minister in response to the usual media attacks on people with disability.
Dear Prime Minister Abbott
I write hoping to head off yet another round of Government vilifying people with disability.
In recent times, both the Howard and Gillard Governments decided to dramatically reduce the number of people receiving Disability Support Pension (DSP). The record shows that Governments (politicians and bureaucrats) believe a substantial proportion (over 40%) of people who get DSP are indolent bludgers. Governments' repeated Welfare to Work schemes aim to push people off DSP onto the pittance called NewStart … perhaps believing (despite substantial evidence to the contrary) that this will ensure people on the DSP will just stand up and walk into all the jobs waiting for them.
The extra attention in these minimally resourced, poorly planned and incompletely executed Welfare to Work schemes helped a tiny percentage of people with disability into jobs … but for every person who got into a (probably short-term) job, two others from among the nation's most defenceless citizens had their already inadequate funding cut even further and their self-esteem annihilated. This is an abysmal outcome.
The Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, says people with disability have difficulty asking for help. The political rhetoric Governments attach to Welfare to Work each time they drag it out makes it even harder for people with disability to ask for help.
These Welfare to Work schemes are popular with the media: the media cover panders to intolerance, allegedly promotes a “tough on welfare” image for Government and diverts attention from the inadequate contribution of big business in Australia to the community.
The early rounds of this process started very soon after your Government came to power. The Australian published its lies in ‘Fix disability support pension to get people back to work’ The Australian (5 October 2013), http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/fix-disability-support-.... A more factual presentation is available from http://www.disabilitydirectory.net.au/oecd-economist-actually-say-equali....
Please recognise that without affirmative action to increase real employment places for people with disability, Australian employers will continue to exclude people with disability from the workforce. Without much better political leadership on education and employment for people with a disability, Australia will continue to be the OECD country with by far the worst poverty for people with disability. And people with autism in Australia will continue to experience utterly disgraceful education and employment/labour force participation outcomes (see http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4428.0 and follow the links to “Autism and Education” and “Labour Force Participation”). Please note, the outcomes that people with autism experience are substantially worse outcomes than people with disability more generally experience.
If you have any doubts about the claims/assertions in the above or want any additional information, please contact A4 via email or phone ...
Bob Buckley, A4 Convenor