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Better support for sickness, invalid beneficiaries

Better support for sickness and invalid beneficiaries

A new $20 million initiative designed to enhance support for sickness and invalid beneficiaries back to work, has been welcomed by Minister for Disability Issues, Ruth Dyson.

“The new Sickness and Invalids Benefits Strategy is great news for people with disabilities who have faced significant barriers in fully participating in their community, including in the paid workforce,” Ruth Dyson said of the new initiative launched by Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey this evening.

"The strategy confirms this government's intention to treat people experiencing disability and ill health with dignity. At the end of the 1990s National created panic across the disability sector by announcing plans for compulsory work capacity testing. The strategy announced today is particularly welcome because it works alongside people as individuals, rather than lumping all sickness and invalids beneficiaries together and stigmatising them as work-shy.”

The $20 million package, with funding spread over three years, will provide a wider range of programmes and support services including access to health and rehabilitation services, new services to support employers, early intervention to keep people in employment wherever possible or keep the position until they are able to return to work, increased access to existing employment programmes and resources, and assistance to connect people to support where employment is not possible.

“This strategy offers a great way forward in terms of recognising the potential that people on sickness and invalids benefits can offer, rather than focussing on an individual’s incapacity.

“Most importantly this initiative recognises that people have different skills and different needs in order to return to work in a supported environment. It finally moves away from the ‘one-size fits all’ approach and offers solutions that are a better ‘fit’ for clients,” Ruth Dyson said.

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