Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson has joined the call for a review of the Disability Support Pension (DSP), describing its assessment and administration as “heartbreaking and demoralising” and “cruel and unfair”.


Speaking in Parliament on a committee report into the DSP, Ms Swanson said it was clear there were problems “that cause Australians no end of heartache”.


“It is not just the incredible amount of time it takes; it is the insurmountable hurdles that people have to jump to prove they are eligible,” Ms Swanson said. “And the apparent disregard for their welfare and for the medial expertise of their treating doctors.”


Ms Swanson said her office had been helping a number of people negotiate the DSP process, and told the story of Alex, a 62-year-old former bus driver who had endured five years of pain and disability because of botched knee replacements and subsequent infections, yet had been knocked back for the DSP twice.


“The assessors said his impairment had ‘not yet been fully treated and stabilised’. But his own doctor said it was  ‘ongoing and permanent’, that no further surgeries were planned, and that Alex was not fit to perform any sort of work,” Ms Swanson said.


“Most galling was the fact that the DSP assessor did a half-hour interview over the phone, and did not even examine him.”


The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit inquiry into the Auditor-General’s report Qualifying for the Disability Support Pension highlighted many problems with the Government’s DSP eligibility “review”, which Ms Swanson described as “a punitive scattergun approach”.


“But that has barely scratched the surface, and a complete review is needed,” Ms Swanson said.