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The Australian government has announced changes to the disability support pension (DSP) that mean disaster for my younger brother, Robert, who has a permanent brain injury that has left him unable to work and support his family and himself. Tell the Abbott government not to cut the disability support pension and leave thousands of Australians who cannot work destitute, isolated and impoverished!
A few years ago, my brother was exposed to 415 volts while at his job cutting sheet metal -- to so much electricity that he was essentially dead. He was resuscitated three times but left with a terrible and permanent brain injury that has severely affected his short-term memory. He is alive but can no longer work in the industry he trained in.
Ten years ago, Robert tried to work at other jobs but, due to his memory loss, was fired after only a few days. Doctors put him on a disability support pension as he was simply unable to work.
Robert's disability has adversely affected all aspects of his life. He needs to be constantly reminded to do things and even has difficulty recognizing family. He has lost his first and second wives.
The Abbott government has introduced new rules for people under 35 who receive the DSP and is also considering other changes -- and I am terrified for Robert's future. Despite the severity of his brain injury, we have learned that it is possible that the government could consider Robert able to work, based on his efforts to do so ten years ago. That is, under government’s new criteria, Robert could be considered no longer eligible for the DSP and lose his pension. If this happens to Robert, he will be left penniless and with no way of supporting himself.
It is thanks to the DSP that Robert and thousands of others with physical, psychiatric or intellectual conditions are able to survive. I can attest that Robert would prefer to work if he could and is deeply streseed knowing that he cannot.
We the people need to support the continued security of the most vulnerable Australians. These people are our family members, brothers, sisters, parents, cousins and friends and they are in need of our assistance.
Tell the Australian government to leave the Disability Support Pension alone!