Steve is one of my students. Can you help
- GOLD COAST BULLETIN
- JULY 20, 2015
Centrelink have cut the disability pension of a Gold Coaster left in a wheelchair after a car crash and told him to get a job despite his doctor advising he is “unemployable”.
Stephen Terrasi, 36, suffered severe injuries to his legs and face in the accident a few years ago but is trying to get his life back on track.
Since then the former painter has been working hard to overcome his daily seizures and is now studying digital interactive media so he can get a job that doesn’t require him to drive or walk.
Initially after the crash he was able to walk but now struggles to cover even a short distance.
“I went on a disability pension a few years after the crash when my health started degrading,” the Burleigh Heads resident explained.
“Now they’ve cut that and told me I have to work 15 hours a week to get the Newstart allowance.
“It’s not like I don’t want to work – or else I wouldn’t be doing this course.”
Centrelink has cancelled Mr Terrasi’s pension despite his doctor advising that “in his current condition, he is unemployable”.
“I am at serious loss to understand how Stephen does not qualify for the disability pension,” the doctor wrote on Mr Terrasi’s medical certificate.
“On a bad day he is unable to leave the house
“As a result of his seizures he is not able to drive.
“His conditions varies a lot from day to day and so he would be completely unreliable in a job setting.
“He was in hospital for six weeks last year because of his condition with no change to his condition or improvements.”
The doctor said Mr Terrasi was not able to walk more than 100m with a walking stick on a good day.
Centrelink reviewed Mr Terrasi’s case last year after new legislation changed the assessment criteria and told him his pension would be cancelled.
He appealed against the decision and it has been reviewed twice without success.
Without his $890 fortnightly pension, Mr Terrasi cannot afford to rent his wheelchair.
Keystone College – where he now studies – is trying to raise $600 to buy him the wheelchair he can no longer afford.
“Stephen Terrasi, is one of the most dedicated and passionate students I have ever seen throughout my career,” his teacher Shane Blackwell said.
“Has been doing extremely well here at the hub until recently.
“This (situation) would be difficult for any student studying full time.”
“The is one student we cannot afford to loose.”
Department of Human Services general manager Hank Jongen said the matter was now before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
“It is not appropriate for the department to comment about any specific case,” he said.
“However, I can assure you that each customer’s case involves a thorough assessment of the evidence and is determined in accordance with the relevant legislation.”