RC into Disability Abuse Must Include Investigating Australian Government Organisations
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We, Australians with disability and without disability, call upon His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) to ensure that any Royal Commission into the Abuse of People with Disability must include the investigation of Government Agencies that are supposed to provide services to people with disability as well as the Ministers in charge of those agencies and their Ministerial directives (communications) to those agencies with regards to providing services for people with disability.
Under the current Coalition Government the Disability Support Pension (DSP) has been targeted incessantly for the purposes of ‘Budget repair’ and as a bank account for the Coalition Government to generate cuts in government revenue (i.e. tax cuts) from businesses and high-income earners alike - people who do not need assistance from the Government to live their basic day-to-day lives.
This inhumane targeting of people with disability and this basic support payment that is meant to give people with severe impairments a bit of financial security and stability has cost tens of thousands of Australians with disability their mental, physical and financial health. Many have battled time and time again - over several years - to have their medical conditions assessed for purposes of the Disability Support Pension only to be rejected time and time again by the Department of Human Services (i.e. Centrelink).
Scott Morrison deliberately removed the Treating Doctor’s Report from the claim pack for the Disability Support Pension on 1 July 2015 (https://formerministers.dss.gov.au/15788/disability-support-payment-rules-tighten/ He stated this was to stop people 'gaming' the system.
Page K.16 of Appendix K of the Productivity Commission's Inquiry Report into Disability Care and Support (2011) stated that "There have been relatively few cases of convictions for fraud involving the Disability Support Pension...that Centrelink has put in place increasingly sophisticated measures for detecting fraud and undisclosed changes of circumstances for all welfare benefits...".
The criteria for the Disability Support Pension are contained in no less than three (3) Commonwealth legislative instruments: The Social Security Act 1991 (11 pages of the relevant section), the Work-Related Impairment Tables (65 pages in total) and Active Participation for Disability Support Pension (11 pages in total). That is a total of 87 pages of Commonwealth legislation.
The Treating Doctor’s Report that Mr Morrison MP removed was replaced by a one page ‘Medical Evidence Checklist’, with 3 or 4 dot points under each of 4 categories (only 14 brief dot points in total).
Mr Morrison's change was not aimed at people WITHOUT disabilities trying to 'game' the system. How could his change be more sophisticated than Centrelink's interdepartmental data matching system?
For people with severe physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairments who acted on their Government's advice and followed this simplistic Government provided 'checklist', Mr Morrison's change would definitely stop them from being able to provide all medical evidence that is required in order for a person's medical condition and their impairments to be appropriately assessed for the purposes of the Disability Support Pension.
It has. This action by Mr Morrison MP has caused the rejection rate of DSP claims to skyrocket to over 70% for the last 3 financial years.
Over the past 5 years, the Department of Human Services has offered no assistance to people with a psychiatric, physical or intellectual disability applying for the Disability Support Pension - other than providing them with the form, or now directing them to the online portal that they can now use to begin a claim for the DSP.
In contrast, healthy fit business people are assigned their own case manager, who will travel up to 1,000 km a day in one direction, to assist those business people obtain any government assistance they need (even assistance they did not know they were entitled to) in a one-on-one interaction: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2004964302948385
Why are people with disability neglected by this Australian Government and turned into Budget savings measures instead of seen as Australian citizens every bit entitled to assistance by their Government as that they deliver to healthy private business owners?
The continuous actions of the Coalition Government aimed solely at the Disability Support Pension and the removal or reduction of benefits associated with the Disability Support Pension over the past five (5) years can only be seen as abuse and neglect of the actual needs of people with disability.
None of us asked for our disabilities. None of us wanted to be dependent upon the Australian Government for assistance - and many (if not all) of us are ashamed to be in such a position.
There are people with disabilities who can earn $200,000 plus, such as Senator Jordon Steele-John, however there are those of us whose disabilities compromise every second of our lives and we can barely move, let alone earn $1 in a year.
There is not one ‘type’ of disability. This is lost in the current discourse on disability in this country.
The Australian Coalition Government that has been in office since September 2013 is not one any Australian with a disability can be proud of.
It is a Government that has turned disability simply into a cost and savings balance sheet item – with no humane or moral 'accounting' for the lives of the Australians with disability, nor their families, that its Budget measures have harmed along the way.
Sadly, this Government continues to believe that more cuts to disability and disability benefits are ‘needed’ - they are not done with their abuse and mistreatment of Australians with disability.
An intelligent Government would realise that it needs to plan and Budget to provide safe guards and support those Australians with disability who do not possess the ability to work and ensure that those citizens’ lives are as safe and secure as that of an Australian citizen able to earn $200,000+ per annum.
This has not been what this Government has done at any point in its term.
Any person can acquire a life-altering disability in an instant.
The Budgeting for supporting people disabled by debilitating medical conditions should be increasing. Since June 2013 Australia's population has increased by an estimated 1.86 million people. Since June 2013, the population of people on the Disability Support Pension has fallen by 69,800 people - with 62,400 of that drop (90%) occurring since June 2015!
Therefore, any Royal Commission into the abuse of Australians with disability must include investigating the actions of the current Australian Government; the actions of its Ministers and Members of Parliament; and the actions of its daughter agencies such as the Department of Social Security and the Department of Human Services towards people with disability as a significant source of abuse and harm to Australians with disability - especially since September 2013.
Without the inclusion of the Australian Government, whose existence surely includes the role of PROTECTING its most vulnerable citizens including Australians with disability, this area of continual significant abuse and harm to Australians with disability by their own Government will continue unabated and there will be nothing to stop this Government (or any future Australian Government) from whatever end it has in mind for Australians with disability.
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