Vulnerable people have had their possessions sent to the tip, lost thousands of dollars in welfare entitlements and unwittingly paid other people’s fines because of “systemic” failures within State Trustees, the Victorian ombudsman has found.
New data from the social services department shows there were 199,907 Newstart recipients with “partial capacity to work” in December, an increase of 50% – or about 65,000 – over the past five years. The figure represents 26% of the 722,923 on the dole. Over the same period, the number of disability pensioners fell from 832,024 to 750,045, and the rate of successful disability support pension claims also declined markedly – from 69% in 2010-11 and 40.6% in 2013-14 to 29.8% in 2017-18.
Ombudsman Deborah Glass has begun investigating whether State Trustees is acting in the best interests of its vulnerable clients. Ms Glass said the investigation would examine State Trustees’ role as an administrator for people who are unable to manage their financial and legal affairs due to disability, illness or injury.
The former fruit picker and cleaner, who was injured at work in July 2016, is locked in a fight with Sunsuper, one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds. She has accused them of failing to properly pay out her permanent disability claim, and compensation lawyers say she is one of many being put under severe financial stress by the organisation.
Parents and immediate family members will often seek to provide financial assistance to help a disabled family member. One option can be to establish a Special Disability Trust (SDT).
Tougher compliance measures have led to a sharp decline in people accessing the Disability Support Pension, with the Department of Human Services revealing almost 75 per cent of claims for the scheme were rejected in 2016-17.