Senate inquiry confirms the need to review income support payments for young people with disability

    The Senate Community Affairs References Committee has recently released a key report examining the adequacy of Newstart and related payments in Australia. Last year, CYDA provided a submission to the Committee’s inquiry, highlighting the experiences of young people with disability seeking employment and accessing income support.

    We know young people with disability can struggle to find employment due to systemic barriers such as lower levels of educational attainment, lack of or inappropriate post-school transition support, discrimination in the workplace and lower expectations by employers and community in general as noted in our submission to the review of senior secondary pathways into work, further education and training.

    This inequality is reflected in the data – roughly one in two young people with disability aged 15 to 24 years rely on income support payments, compared with 14 per cent of people without disability, as outlined by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The restricted eligibility criteria for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) has forced many young people with disability to apply and live with the lower Newstart or Youth Allowance payments – which are well below the poverty line.

    As well as this, the COVID-19 situation has impacted the Australia economy and the unemployment rate will rise from 5.1 per cent to 10 per cent in the June quarter, according to Treasury figures. This also means that people who experience barriers and discrimination in seeking employment such as young people with disability are likely to remain longer recipients of income support payments as the job market has changed considerably. 

    CYDA was pleased to see a number of key recommendations in the recent report, that, if implemented, could have a positive impact on the experiences and outcomes for young people with disability:

    • Reviewing the Disability Support Pension eligibility criteria
    • Reviewing of the requirements of the mutual obligations in relation to job search activities for people who are unable to work due to a medical condition or a disability
    • Reviewing of the adequacy of youth allowance
    • Allocation of a caseworker to assist vulnerable young people with their applications for income support payments and connect them with the relevant services that can provide further assistance.

    CYDA is keen to see these recommendations implemented appropriately and in a reasonable timeframe by the Federal Government.

    The COVID-19 crisis means actions will need to be expedited so young people with disability are not disadvantaged in the ‘road out’.

    We will continue to advocate for better outcomes and support for young people with disability and their families and to ensure their voices are heard by the government on issues affecting them.

    May 2020