The horrific death toll is revealed by Figures released by the Department of human services. Around 100 people per month have been dying, shortly after being ruled well enough to take a job.
There are many thousands more who have been forced into a situation that is having some form of detrimental effect on their health. This is a scandal too.
Some critics are demanding an inquiry. The controversial assessment process is being blamed. It is based on a table that lists a number of possible disabilities that might show a degree of incapacity to work. This is further refined through a number of sub-categories that carry with them a given weight in points. Then the person involved has to reach a minimum of 20 points to be considered for disability support.
On face value it may seem to some that this is a fair enough approach. It is not. In the first place, it is far too restrictive. At the bottom, it is heavily weighted towards visible physical disability. Many disabilities are not readily visible. Even those that are, generally have aspects that are not visible. Many do not fall neatly into the categories and sub-categories. Thus people not fit for work are assessed as fit for work.
This is no accident. It is clear from government policies and Centrelink procedures that there is an overriding to reduce the number of people receiving disability support. One just has to look at the increasing number of hoops and the introduction of activity agreements where the disabled already receiving benefits are compelled to move towards employment. The pressure is to join the ranks of a rising cheap labour force.
An assessment problem that primarily works as a means to minimise the number accepted, rather than placing health needs in first place, fits in well with the existing punitive policy.
In this case an inquiry is not really needed. There needs to be a change in policy. The present assessment procedure needs to be scrapped and replaced with one that puts the needs of the person being assessed in the first place. Is this too much to ask?