How being on the DSP has allowed me to stabilise my mental health

I was approved for the disability support pension about two years ago now. It wasn’t a straightforward process, and I was initially rejected, with my request for a review going through successfully without any more information from me. So, how has being on DSP improved my quality of life?

Slightly more money – the partnered DSP rate is currently $826.70 per fortnight, $140 more than the $686.00 I’d be getting on JobSeeker. (source DSS 2023) The difference for singles is more – $347.50 a fortnight extra to use to pay for the basics of life, costs which all agree are more with a disability – studies showing that you need at least 50% more disposable income to live with a disability in Australia. Not that any of the DSP gets to be disposable.

Getting off the Disability Employment Services radar – I’ve had a lot of exemptions from job searching in my time on payments, so for me this meant there was no looming date where I’d have to reengage with DES or have to get a correctly written medical certificate from my non-bulk billing doctor to have them waived again. This was a huge stress relief, not having to apply for jobs I wasn’t ready for, and not having to show up to fortnightly appointments to talk about how my life was falling apart this week and how a minimum wage cleaning job was clearly what I needed to fix my mental health.

Did you know under-35s on DSP have mutual obligations these days? Any disabled person who is failing to meet their “obligations” and getting cut of their payments is clearly being failed by the services that are supposed to be supporting them.

TIME and SPACE – time and space to do the therapies that I was already involved in. When I got DSP, I was doing 4 sessions a week of various therapies – individual and group – for borderline personality disorder and alcohol dependence. I could now just focus on these for awhile. So, I certainly wasn’t sitting at home on DSP, I was doing therapy in person and online, I was practicing getting out and about into the world again after a breakdown that coincided with Covid routine changes and added stresses. I’ve been sober 3 three years now, and certainly the support of having the DSP and not having to meet others expectations around employment have let me maintain that even amongst the rest of the chaos that life brings.

Time and space to figure me out and pursue my own interests and use my skills. I also started to learn the confidence to pace myself properly – I had a therapy goal that was basically following through on things I committed to. Which is two sided – both not chickening out with anxiety or low energy when it all gets too much, but also not letting it get to much – knowing my schedule, knowing how much and what sorts of things I can commit to and only pushing myself as far as I should go. Not saying yes because it’s expected of me, but giving things a go and seeing if they do spark joy. It’s amazing how much energy expenditure varies when you are following an interest!

Time and space to prioritise my “little routine”, allowing myself to see getting up and dressed or putting away the washing as an achievement, and being happy with my day. If I get my little routine together, if I do my chore, make my dinners, then I have more time and space mentally and practically to do more of the things that are generally seen as productive – supporting friends and family, writing and advocacy, maybe even doing a little bit of paid work here and there!

There’s so many goals I’m starting to see as achievable for myself after having this period of self-stability. It’s allowed me to try new things, put my hand up to do things I care about and feel are important, with the knowledge that I don’t have to meet someone else’s expectations to get paid each fortnight. I don’t know if I’ll make it back to earning enough to no longer get the pension, I’d love to do more, be more independent financially, actually have a disposable income, but I have time now. Time and space to dip in and out of the outside world as I can in a way that is of benefit to both myself and everyone else near and dear to me.

I’m certainly not “fixed”. I’m starting with a new psych, but being on DSP means that that would be prohibitively expensive if I hadn’t been able to get in with one that I can see for free for 10 sessions, but only on a Thursday and only from April. I also need to properly explore my neurodivergence, somehow find the energy and the money to get assessed for Autism and ADHD, especially if that would help me at all when it comes with getting even more okay with living in this world.

Just needed to breathe.

Cool, the tax cuts are less shit. Now #RaiseTheRate above the poverty line so welfare recipients aren’t left further behind

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Get yours from ArtistAffame

So, the stage three tax cuts are officially less unfair. Cool. They still aren’t necessary, and would be better spent on services.

But since you’re increasing the take home pay of everyone with a paid job, then hows about some scraps for the poorest? The 23 year old “kids” on youth allowance struggling on $320 a week? The 2.6 million carers out there, the ones on $400 a week while saving the taxpayer hundreds of thousands? The carer who gets nothing because their partner earns too much. The aged or disabled pensioner living below the poverty line while by definition unable to supplement their income with regular paid work.

I dunno man, people are feeling left behind.

Opinion Pieces Wednesday, 19th January 2022 No one left behind in Labor blueprint for better future First published in the Australian on Jan 18 2022

“What about me?” It’s cliché but what we’re working with here

“As Labor politicians head to Canberra to discuss #CostOfLiving, #FOI reveals that, in the last 12 months, neither Minister Rishworth, Shorten or Collins have received briefings, reports or analyses on the effects of the cost-of-living crisis on welfare recipients. #fail #auspol”

Yeah, of course they haven’t. They run inquiries, make statements and chat to charities but don’t actually care about what it’s like to try to survive on welfare in this county.

Youth allowance is clearly the worst. with the politicians assuming you can both rely on your parents but they can’t have too much for you to be eligible. And it’s up til 24 years old… because we all know that you get a kids discount on food and rent til 24. Oh what, that was 12 for the kids meal? My bad.

The next table shows JobSeeker rates. $686 a fortnight if you’re partnered and your partner doesn’t earn much at all. $802.50 for singles. How DO people look for work on less than $50/day? or even on $57?

I get $59/day on DSP and I don’t have to leave the house and participate in society. Oh, I should be able to? Tell that to the cost of living committee.

And rent assistance? $85/week that just pushes up rents and makes it impossible for those not already receiving it to enter the rental market? Zoe, you have no idea, you think that it’s just a nice little supplement when really it’s just 18% of my rent. Forgive me for not being all grateful for the $13 a week extra I got just before my rent went up $60/week and we had to spend thousands moving.

I’m not feeling coherent yet, I’m only on my first diet coke, I didn’t sleep well and people were being loud and had the tv on this morning and I can’t process all that before say 10am.

I emailed Foodbank seeking more information about how donations work and who pays for what and why some places charge customers and some places aren’t allowed to but I didn’t get a response. I emailed TPG asking for use of a wifi modem til my innernet gets installed on Feb 29 and I didn’t get a response. I emailed Dan Repacholi to ask his to ask for an increase to welfare at the crisis meeting tomorrow but he just said he’s find out what was going to happen at the meeting himself and pass it on. Don’t shoot the messenger, even if he can shoot himself.

I’ll leave you with Nollsy while you email your local MP what would make a difference to you this cost of living crisis in the vain hope that they even have input into the process:

With MPs heading back to Canberra, what’s on your wishlist this cost-of-living crisis?

Saturday afternoon saw a flutter of tweets speculating about what might be served up to us plebs after Labor MPs return to Canberra early to solve the cost-of-living crisis and their slump in the important but not important at all polls.

I have my theories about what is possible and likely. And since I have a personal blog I get to write about them, with no qualifications other than I, too, am here in this country at this time, reading news and feeling the vibes.

Extending the energy rebates – This is an easy one as they’re only set for this financial year, so Labor will pop them into the May budget and probably even further expanded. I know they vary by state, but people already receiving concessions on their bills here in NSW got $125 a quarter off their bills automatically, and it was recently expanded to more families, but you have to apply. Not sure if they’ll up the value, or give it to more people. But it will be there for 24/25 and in place for the 2025 election.

Increasing the energy supplement in welfare payments – This famously hasn’t risen since its introduction in 2013 is it isn’t indexed. I get $10.60 a fortnight as a partnered disability pensioner. Could I see them doubling that supplement? Maybe? No, it’s not a huge amount extra, but it’d be extra targeted at the poorest on a hot item. It wouldn’t come in immediately though, might not even be til September if it’s a May Budget item.

Back to school payments – Yeah, it’s always a hot topic at this time of year, how expensive it is to send kids to public school, uniform and shoe costs, materials, backpacks, laptops and more. But it seems more pointed this year, perhaps it comes alongside the increasing stories of families living in tents, when they then have to find money for a laptop, let alone a place to reliably use it or charge it. It would be popular and really couldn’t be criticised. Cash payments to parents of school aged kids, non-means tested would be the fastest way and the most effective – but they do love their vouchers :/ It would take immediate heat off the government too, because they’ll need sometime that looks like it’s happening NOW, and feeding a clothing kids looks good.

Welfare Payments – I don’t see an increase to base rates happening this budget outside indexation, which is why I think the energy supplement may be a way to go about increasing the amount people are getting slightly, without angering the usual. I mean I WANT them to raise all payments above the poverty line, and I will push for that and ask for that and make arguments for it. But I don’t see it coming from this meeting, and not in the May budget. Would we believe them in they take it the the election though without any significant movement in the previous years? Yeah nah. That ship has sailed for Labor and unless they do blindside us in May with significant increases, particularly at the JobSeeker and Youth Allowance rates, noone’s going to believe their “good intentions” come 2025.

Rejig of Stage Three Greg Jericho and The Australia Institute have done the legwork for them, giving them a model that flattens out the cuts a bit more while not removing them completely. You need to remember Labor voted for the bill in the first place and have been extremely insistent on keeping that promise to the top end. It also leaves them with money to put towards those other payments. I mean, they COULD just bring back the Low and Middle Income Tax Offset that was so sorely missed last year, that hit a lot of people unexpectedly. It’s an option. They won’t scrap stage three though.

A picture of Lego Unikitty with a tie and glasses drawn on, speech bubble with the quote “Business, business, business. Numbers. Is this working?”

Business business business (is this working?) – I really don’t know or care what they do for businesses, I’m sure that there will be heaps. Yeah, my partner is self employed but we really don’t get any of the subsidies and such that are out there at this level *shrugs*

From the previous cost of living measures that haven’t excited me all that much, I don’t think this meeting will bring more rent assistance, and while personally more money is nice rent assistance is way too little too late and not given to enough people. They need to buy more public housing now, since building is going to take forever. Acquire vacant properties, put them in the public housing pool in a couple of months. Maybe they’ll extended the increased medicare bulk billing incentive? But to who and how? And is it too late with doctors dropping bulk billing as I type? They won’t do anything with medicines, that was already a big one. Unless they lower the safety nets? Personally I need less upfront costs for medical care and medicines, not rebates that kick in later. If I avoid the doctor cos the upfront cost is too high, I’ll never reach the safety net. And I’ll be more expensive down the track.

What do you think will come out of Wednesday’s meeting and the May budget and will it actually make a difference to you?

 

2024 you say

Hello, 2024, and what shall this year bring? I’ve still two more days tethering off my phone, but my NBN connection is supposedly going to be fibre to the premises, so vrooom once I get that you won’t stop me!

Finally got my ears cleared, no thanks to Drs. Went to a new GP today since I was gonna need one anyway, and they wouldn’t do them themselves then and there and I’d have to book in with the nurse – with the first appointment being on the 15th, which is the closest I could get at the specialist ear places too. So I decided to buy an ear syringe at the chemist and spend half and hour irrigating my ears, and by golly everything is so LOUD when you don’t have a plug of wax in the way. So hopefully I’ve got this sorted and I won’t need the appointment come the 15th and can cancel it.

Did some household and giftcard spending this morning at the Reject shop – got a Xmas tablecloth and matching serving plates for next Xmas, as well as a few little bins for around the house. And two purple croptop bras from Best and Less. SChmexy.

Got the AU registered, so now we can sell that, hopefully sooner rather than later. I like it but it’s excess to our needs and I’d prefer the money hey. Then Bruce can get the rust fixed in the other Ford and all the other repairs needed on that. And we can vroom around in the Corolla!

I AM intending to food blog more, but I’m not sure how or what, with budget restrictions but also going back to everyplate boxes for my sanity there may not be all that variety. But we’ll see what happens! Hopefully meeting some Antipoverty Tweeps for lunch in Sydney next week while they’re in town so there may be something in that lol. Or the 15th when the Cooranbong Community hub opens again and I can opshop and foodbank shop there and see what comes my way! Ended up buying a few of the household thins I was hoping to opshop off Amazon, but at least I have them now and can get more settled. I need to take the last of the moving boxes to recycing at the tip, if I can get myself to do that this week that’s be MORE clutter away and more settled for me.