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Social security and stigma in Australia


Aurora Elmes, Jeremiah Brown, Gemma Carey, Batool Moussa


This report provides an analysis of the available evidence on how Australia’s social security system supports people who are unable to work (or unable to secure adequate income through work) due to their experience of mental ill-health, or caring for someone with mental ill-health.

Key findings:

– Clear and accessible information about available supports and application requirements is lacking for both people with mental ill-health and carers. This is particularly the case for
culturally and linguistically diverse people. This contributes to people missing out on support.
– People experience the social security system as complicated, and navigating the system successfully is challenging for people who are experiencing distress or mental ill-health.
– Recent reforms, including reforms to the Disability Support Pension (DSP) have limited input by people with lived experiences and focused on lowering costs to government.
– The available literature (both academic and grey literature) is extremely consistent in stating that the current rate of unemployment income support (JobSeeker Allowance) is inadequate, and
results in people being unable to meet their basic needs for decent housing, food, heating, healthcare, and social participation (The Senate Community Affairs References Committee, 2020).
– Improving employment service effectiveness, and employer willingness would help enable people who are able to and wish to work to access employment opportunities.

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