Older Aussies receiving welfare more likely to have poor health

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People receiving the Federal Government’s main unemployment and disability benefits are more likely to have multiple health conditions and be hospitalised, according to a major national study.

The report, released by Monash researchers on Monday, is the first national snapshot of the health, and the health service use, of people receiving Newstart and the disability support pension.

The study, led by Professor Alex Collie, suggests that a focus on improving the health of these people could increase their ability to find and keep work.

Researchers analysed National Health Survey data of more than 9000 people, including 638 disability pension recipients and 442 Newstart recipients.

People receiving the Centrelink benefits were more likely than workers to have many problems, and more likely to have multiple problems and diseases. They were more likely to be hospitalised, were heavy users of healthcare services and were higher users of medications.

The rate of mental health conditions was much higher among people receiving the benefits, with 69 per cent of disability pensioners and 49 per cent of Newstart recipients reporting psychological or behavioural problems, compared with 21 per cent of workers.

“It’s hard to work when you’re sick,” said Prof. Collie. “We found large disparities between the health of people receiving Centrelink benefits and wage earners.

“Some of the findings are quite concerning, particularly the high rates of mental health problems experienced by benefit recipients. We also found that disability pensioners had more than double the rate of hospital admissions compared to wage earners. People on Newstart were three times more likely to report having at least 10 health conditions.

“Our study suggests that efforts to improve health in these groups should be a priority for government. Improving health can help people find and keep work.”

The chief executive of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO), Ross Joyce, said: “This study gives us new insight into the health of people with disability who receive income support through the DSP and Newstart, some of whom are the most vulnerable people in our community.

“Over the past decade, successive governments have made it more difficult for people to apply for the DSP. We now have 200,000 people with disability who have been taken off the Disability Support Pension and placed on Newstart, many of whom have had their obligations under Newstart waived because of their disability.

“AFDO believes this traps people with disability into poverty and results in poor health outcomes. We need to urgently address the health of these people and provide them with targeted access to health services,” Mr Joyce said.

The Monash research team is also launching a study that aims to understand the experiences of people on the DSP and their interactions with Centrelink.

“One thing we know is that bureaucratic processes can be bad for health, particularly mental health,” Prof. Collie said.

“Our new study aims to explore the links between people’s interactions with Centrelink and their health.”

People applying for the DSP, or receiving the DSP, can take part in the study by visiting www.dspstudy.com.

Do you receive Newstart or the DSP? Would you prefer to work but have a health condition that prevents you joining the workforce?

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Written by Ben

21 Comments

Total Comments: 21
  1. 0
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    my gp sent me to an orthopedic surgeon at a large public hospital, i never saw him/her , the ortho sent me to see a physio I had one session ( assessment ) and i couldnt get there after that due to god only knows what issues with my neck and back. why i cant see an ortho at a closer to home public hospital i dont know. until i do i deal with it all as best I can , not able to get help for it until I can prove what is wrong and have a specialist say that how it affects me

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      You can tisme, just go in through emergency and they will refer you to theirs. You may have to wait but as least you will get answers.

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      Pull the plug and get carried in on a door by the ambulance people – that way you get treatment… collapse in the shopping square and cry out “I can’t feel my legs!” .. but keep a firm grip on your wallet and shoes… especially at Bankstown (Bankistan) Square..

      Anyone see the thing on Four Corners last night? If that bloke with the heart problems had been brought in an ambulance he’d be first in, not sitting in the waiting room until a student got to him and made a mistake…

      That student should be discontinued in medicine for such a catastrophic and simple error that cost a life..

  2. 0
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    Not surprised with the amount of stress and anxiety Centrelink makes you endure when even trying to get through to them and then trying to deal with their inane bureaucracy and procedures, especially if you are a 75 year old part pensioner trying to do the right thing with limited means and patience, it’s not the staff I might add it’s the awful system they have to work with…No wonder we get sick….

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      That system also trains the staff………….

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      Very good reasons, along with the comments from Prof Collie in the article, to scrap the Broken Age Pension system, and implement Universal Age Pension based only on Age and Residency with NO other tests, and scrap the Centrelink bureaucracy (massive cost savings) for this as ATO can easily send out the payments. Massive health cost savings as well.

  3. 0
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    It’s not just us older Pensioners or older people on Newstart.
    My son has gone from a strong working man to a mental wreck being on Newstart & the bureaucracy it involves. His ex ( we think it’s her)rings Centrelink on a fairly regular basis & tells them he’s working. They immediately stop his payments. He has to jump through hoops to then prove he isn’t & can’t work at the moment. Centrelink don’t tell him his payments have been stopped. He doesn’t know until he doesn’t receive it. The Newstart payment isn’t enough for him to even get a place of his own, let alone buy food as well. There is any amount of help out there for single Mums, but nothing for single fathers. It is totally demoralizing and these people can not see a candle at the end of the tunnel… let alone a light. Mr Morrison & his parliament of people with fat pockets & very short arms have a lot to answer for when it comes to the Mental illness of Pensioners, Welfare recipients & the homeless. The rich get richer & the poor get poorer!!! They have absolutely no idea what people are going through. I am an aged pensioner paying rent that is half my pension & that’s a good rent!! A lot of people pay more. I worked for 50 years and payed my taxes. Super didn’t come in till very late & women’s wages are a pittance compared to male wages… hence.. very little super.
    Wake up Mr Morrison… take off your Rose coloured glasses, come out of your silken cocoon & take a look around you.

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      Put in a written complaint, you are allowed to and there is a complaints process. It must be illegal for them to to stop payment without checking with your son first. Sometimes you have to fight back in order to be treated as a human and not a number.

  4. 0
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    Who is paying for these people to ‘research’ the bleedin’ obvious?

    We know this already. People with low incomes in less advantaged areas don’t do as well as those that don’t! Doh!!

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      If your son was a single Dad he would be entitled to apply for the same payments or other help as the single Mum.

      There is the same level of help for single women (no kids) as there is for single men (no kids)!

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    Yet you could of done another group of the same number and got completely different results. Once again, this study is flawed because it is not a big enough sample size of the population to draw generalisations. General rule of thumb has always been 10% of the entire population of people on welfare. Of course people who have nothing to do are going to have mental health problems and we are brainwashed by the media to go to the doctors and have a tablet instead of change your lifestyle and take responsibility for your health. Do another study where you give these people on welfare some meaningful things to do and you watch, their health issues will fade away for the majority.

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      That is certainly the way of it unfortunately. Disadvantaged areas with high unemployment generally have high drug, including alcohol, usage as an example.
      The problem is that those in power who make decisions have never “walked in those shoes”. They have no idea of the toll that unemployment takes on mental and physical health. Yes there will always be some who game the system but there are many more who do genuinely want to work.
      Part of the Capitalist system is the need for a pool of unemployed to keep the wages down so employers can make more profit. At least that is the theory but as we see now that also means the economy slows down as there is insufficient disposal income in the community to make the purchases business need to be viable.
      Socialism is not the answer but neither is unrestrained Capitalism. A healthy economy needs a balance which certainly don’t have at the moment.

    • 0
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      That is certainly the way of it unfortunately. Disadvantaged areas with high unemployment generally have high drug, including alcohol, usage as an example.
      The problem is that those in power who make decisions have never “walked in those shoes”. They have no idea of the toll that unemployment takes on mental and physical health. Yes there will always be some who game the system but there are many more who do genuinely want to work.
      Part of the Capitalist system is the need for a pool of unemployed to keep the wages down so employers can make more profit. At least that is the theory but as we see now that also means the economy slows down as there is insufficient disposal income in the community to make the purchases business need to be viable.
      Socialism is not the answer but neither is unrestrained Capitalism. A healthy economy needs a balance which certainly don’t have at the moment.

    • 0
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      How many jobs will I put you down for, Mr Scrooge?

    • 0
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      Perfectly right, Tanker – a balance of capitalism and socialism is the way all viable societies function.

  6. 0
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    Tanker what you are saying is right 40yrs ago your LNP members wanted a 10% unemployment so they could break any conditions that had been won and they are still going it in a different way

  7. 0
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    Tanker what you are saying is right 40yrs ago your LNP members wanted a 10% unemployment so they could break any conditions that had been won and they are still going it in a different way

  8. 0
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    No wonder with all the pressure of Robodebts and other Vampyres scratching at their windows…

    The trick with a Vampyre scratching at your window is never to invite him in… but this lot… wow… they make their own entry without permission….

  9. 0
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    Of course, they are suffering more stress, more depression and lack of a good feed. And they took many off DSP to save a few bucks and yet now they do not get support for their issues. This Government is getting nastier and nastier.

  10. 0
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    Excellent comments:
    “One thing we know is that bureaucratic processes can be bad for health, particularly mental health,” Prof. Collie said.
    “Our new study aims to explore the links between people’s interactions with Centrelink and their health.”
    Jongen and his team need to be exposed, with their massive bureaucracies, complex rules and tools such as robodebt, surely there has to be a negative impact on people’s health.
    Hope we hear further about the results of this research.


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