Most Disability Support Payment (DSP) recipients live under draconian Welfare to Work legislation introduced by the Howard government in 2006. These provisions force people with disabilities and other disadvantaged income support recipients to search for work, without adequately addressing the disadvantages people with disabilities experience in finding and keeping meaningful jobs with liveable wages.
In addition people with disabilities are subjected to Supported Wages clauses, written into industrial awards, which allow employers to underpay workers with disabilities (see separate policy).
We believe calls for a National Disability Insurance Scheme are just one step in the right direction. Socialists believe in putting people’s needs before profits — we can afford to adequately address the needs of people with disabilities and pay them fair and liveable wages. In so doing, people with disabilities will escape the poverty trap and have the opportunity to contribute and give back to society.
The Socialist Alliance says:
- We call for the removal of the Supported Wages System clauses from all industrial awards.
- Support all community efforts to repeal the draconian federal Welfare to Work legislation• Call for the extension of long standing Blind Pension entitlements to all current DSP recipients - free public transport and end the means testing of DSP payments. Allow all people with disabilities to access the DSP to offset the costs and inconveniences associated with living with a disability.
- Support increasing educational opportunities and job training programs for people with disabilities of all ages, particularly those who missed out on educational opportunities through past and present discrimination.
- Ensure that Government publicises the equipment support schemes to prospective employers to encourage them to recruit more people with disabilities.
- Call for disability-friendly workplaces — we demand that employers make provision for workers with health conditions and disabilities, including conditions of an episodic nature, to take time out from work to look after themselves with no threat to their job security. Employers should make all efforts to re-adjust work schedules around workers’ medical needs.
- Call for the provision of accessible public transport, community education, stronger anti-discrimination legislation, affirmative action policies and accessible building codes which can remove all barriers to employment for people with disabilities.
- Call for the extension of TAC or ex-military service levels of personal care, domestic assistance and income support to all people who acquire disabilities regardless of the circumstances that caused them to become disabled. End the discrepancies between the more realistic level of support given to people who become disabled in car accidents or fighting US-Australian sponsored wars, as compared to the paltry level of support given to people who become disabled through other mishaps, health issues, age related issues or who are disabled from birth. We know the comparatively good level of support governments give to ex-service personnel and car accident victims is designed to deflect criticisms of our car and military dependent societies rather than to support people with disabilities. Nonetheless TAC benefits and military pensions provide a useful yardstick by which to measure the support most people with disabilities could be receiving.
- Call for a living wage for all workers in sheltered workshops. Give workers in sheltered workshops the right to access programs aimed at relocating them to open employment, and meet these workers’ social and physical needs within mainstream workplaces so that they can keep their jobs and feel happy and well accepted at work.
- Support the right of workers in sheltered workshops to the union representation of their choice.
- Outlaw bullying “dwarf throwing” competitions and, as a matter of urgency, provide meaningful jobs for all people whose only difference is height. We strive to end all exploitative industries that abuse, trivialise and mystify short-statured people and take advantage of their difficulties in obtaining employment. Therefore we demand all short-statured people be given first pick of all public service jobs for which they are qualified. All discrimination cases involving short statured people should be heard without delay.
The Socialist Alliance advocates setting targets for the employment of people with disabilities as a step to overcoming discrimination: Initially a target of 10% of jobs within the public sector will be set; of those 50% must be allocated to women with disability, 30% to people from NESB or culturally diverse backgrounds, and 10% to ATSI people. The initial target for the private sectors will be 5% with the same breakdown of targets for women, people from NESB and culturally diverse backgrounds and ATSI people.