A PLANNED federal government review of the disability pensions system should not necessarily be cause for alarm, according to two Orange disability service providers, CareWest and Wangarang Industries.
Wangarang Industries general manager Kevin McGuire and CareWest chief executive officer Tim Curran said any review of the system that would enable disability support to be sustainable in the future, and provide more opportunities for people with a disability to be employed, would be positive for the sector.
Federal Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews announced yesterday his department would focus on a recently-completed review he ordered late last year, which showed the system for disability pensions and Newstart allowances was financially unsustainable.
“I have heard Kevin Andrews quite a few times on this issue and I don’t believe he is coming at this purely from a cost-cutting perspective,” Mr Curran said.
He has confidence Mr Andrews is motivated in his desire for an overhaul of the system to see as many disabled people as possible seek gainful employment.
“Many people out there have been forgotten and I think there is time for a well-targeted review,” he said.
Mr McGuire says at this early stage he is quietly confident Mr Andrews will advocate for people with a disability.
“Of course we all have the carrot dangling in front of us of the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which has been shown in the Newcastle trial to cost far more than originally anticipated by the Gillard government,” Mr McGuire said.
“I have been to a few talks given by the minister and he is passionate about disability services.”
However, he said extensive consultation with the disability sector was crucial to the implementation of any recommendations.
Mr McGuire says the number of people on a disability pension who cannot work because of depression, anxiety or mental illness has grown enormously in the last 20 years, contributing to data that shows an increase in disability payments.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows Australia has a low rate of unemployment of people with a disability compared to many other countries in the world including the United States, United Kingdom and Mexico.