Invest in the vulnerable
I AM outraged to discover that the Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, who earns $ 341,000 per year, was able to charge the taxpayers $ 811,857 for expenses last year.
Meanwhile the Abbott government makes changes to the Disability Support Pension ( DSP) that is shifting people with a disability to Newstart. I am finding it hard to see how this does not reek of a double standard; I thought that the “age of entitlement” was over. Clearly this government is only focused on punishing the most vulnerable in our community.
I recently read an article from the Gold Coast Bulletin where Centrelink has cut the DSP of a Gold Coast resident who has been left in a wheelchair after a car accident.
He has been told to get a job despite his doctor advising that he is “unemployable”.
Stephen Terrasi, 36, suffered severe injuries to his legs and face in the accident a few years ago but is trying to get his life back on track. He is working hard to overcome his daily seizures and is now studying digital interactive media so he can get a job that doesn’t require him to drive or walk.
To be eligible for the DSP, Stephen has to be deemed capable of being able to work only eight hours per week, a decrease from the current 15 hours per week.
The tragic assumption and myth being peddled by the Abbott government is that all people on the DSP are lazy, don’t want to work and must be punished.
There are a couple of factors in this story that cause me great concern. Firstly, if this young man is not eligible for the DSP and his condition will not get better in time, will he be eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme ( NDIS), now that he has been shifted from the DSP to Newstart? What does his long term future look like in terms of support to live a good life?
Secondly, where are all of the jobs for people like Stephen? By his doctor’s admission he is not fit for work, in fact he has stated that he is “unemployable”. Added to his physical issues, it would seem that he is now suffering severe emotional distress as a result of this decision, how exactly is that helping him to get a job?
Let me be very clear, I am not writing a bleeding hearts letter, I am a firm believer that wherever possible people should have the right to a job, but there are some instances when working is not possible. Surely as a society we can see our way clear to respect a person’s human right to be treated with dignity and that includes a welfare system to support the vulnerable in our community.
The other interesting point that is never raised or discussed is the fact that low income families and people on the pension spend every cent that they have on a weekly basis in order to survive and in a community the size of Townsville that adds up to a significant contribution to our economy.
When will the Abbott government understand that punishing the vulnerable is not the answer to creating a strong economy, but investing in job creation and looking after the vulnerable is?
TRAGIC: Stephen Terrasi is being badly treated.