House debates

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014, Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014; Consideration in Detail

9:38 pm

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I wish to ask the minister a question at the end of this because, with my experience of the Minister for Social Services, I realise he is a man of great empathy and compassion. Why do I say that? Because I know the Minister for Social Services does not see victims in our society and our community, as members on the other side would lead us to believe; he sees that every person in our community has potential and he wants every person in our community to have a great chance of having the best life they can. He does not want them to believe they are a victim and that they need saving. He wants them to see themselves as people with unlimited potential, and that is what so many of the elements of this bill are about.

I would like to share with you and the chamber a story that just happened to me in the last few months. I had a group of people come to me in February and March, asking me to be the ambassador for a program which was going to find 75 jobs in a month. We were going to find 75 jobs in 30 days for people with a disability. We sat down and talked with some of the key stakeholders in my community, and we said: 'We do not want it to be a failure. If we get 10 people with a disability a job in the month of March that would be a success, so why don't we say the aim of the program is to get 50 jobs?'

Do know how many jobs we found in the month of March? It was not 50—it was not what we put the figure at. It was not 75, which was the initial target we thought we would set. It was 115. It was 115 because, again, we did not see anybody as a victim. We did not see the shortcomings in anyone. We saw everyone with the potential to have a job and a lifestyle that was going to be more suitable to their enjoyment.

The changes that come into effect for the disability support pension on 1 July will help support young people with a disability to enter the workforce if they are able to do so. One of the people I came into contact with while I was ambassador for this program was two-time Paralympics gold medallist Tracy Barell, who launched what we called the Page disability jobs search. Tracy was born without legs and with only one arm. She is independent; she gets around on a skateboard. She has two children and has won two gold medals but she told the jobs drive launch the hardest thing she has ever had to do was get a job. She said:

People sometimes talk to me like I'm deaf. I say, "I'm missing my legs, not my ears."

She went on to say:

We've got dreams and hopes and aspirations that we want to have our own homes and holidays and be able to buy cars. And we want to be able to work to achieve this.

Like Tracy, this bill recognises that people with a disability who are able to participant in the workforce will have better long-term outcomes if they can engage in the workforce. Tracy is confident, but many people on the disability support pension are not, because we have told them in the past they do not have the ability to work—that they have nothing to contribute to society.

That is plain wrong. Instead of rejecting the many skills and abilities people with a disability have, we should embrace and encourage them. Whether it is compulsory work focused activities such as work experience, education or training, the social, economic and health benefits of active participation for disability support pension recipients under 35 years cannot be overstated. So my question to the minister is: what measures are contained in this bill that will encourage greater workforce participation among people living with a disability?


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