Date published: Wednesday 3 April 2019
In the Government's pre-election budget there were tax cuts and a big infrastructure spend. But what has the Government committed to spend on aged care and community services? Baptist Care Australia takes a look at the detail.
There was disappointingly no increase in the rate of Newstart or other social security payments in this year's Budget. Newstart recipients were also originally excluded from receiving the one-off energy supplement payment, but after public outcry, this was quickly amended.
The Government has committed to the following:
- $84.3 million over four years to expand the Integrated Carer Support Service. The additional funding will increase the availability of carer support, with young carers prioritised to enable continued participation in education and training.
- $128.8 million over four years to extend the controversial Cashless Debit Card (CDC) trials.
- $25.5 million over six years to establish an independent National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse to reduce stigma, raise awareness, and prevent child sexual abuse.
- $5.1 million over four years to the National Office for Child Safety to provide national leadership in the implementation of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations and to progress work in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
In order to pay for some of these initiatives, the Government is planning to achieve savings of $2.1 billion over a five-year period by changing the reporting requirements for people on income support payments. There were no additional details on this measure in the budget, but there is some concern that it could be a robo-debt 2.0. Baptist Care Australia will be watching this carefully to ensure that our most vulnerable members of our community are not further disadvantaged.
The Budget was largely a re-announcement of a number of previously announced initiatives, including the increased number of Home Care Packages (HCPs), and the one-off payment for residential care facilities in acknowledgement of the difficult financial position many providers are in.
There were a few new initiatives announced including:
- Funding certainty ($5.9 billion across two years from 2020-21) for the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and;
- $2.6 million to support the implementation of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy.
You can read a comprehensive summary of the aged care announcements by ACSA here.
Housing and homelessness
It was an empty Budget for housing, with no new commitments in this Budget or over the forward estimates. This is deeply concerning, with people on the lowest incomes in severe housing stress and at risk of homelessness. Baptist Care Australia is part of Everybody’s Home, a campaign to call for a better, fairer housing system for all Australians.
Domestic and family violence
The Government leaked their domestic and family violence package in February this year. The initiatives funded will form part of the Commonwealth’s contribution to the Fourth Action Plan 2019-22 (the Plan) under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022, and includes:
- $64.0 million in additional funding over two years to ensure that 1800RESPECT is able to meet forecast increases in demand;
- $75.4 million to provide emergency accommodation for women and children escaping domestic and family violence;
- $110.9 million to improve a range of existing domestic and family violence support services, including: delivering a range of prevention initiatives including Australia’s first prevention hub and the social media platform The Line; expanding the number of specialised family violence services and family and relationship services sites; and expanding the Support for Trafficked People Program;
- $35.0 million to address the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by violence;
- $11.0 million to improve collaboration and information sharing between the Federal Family Law system and state family violence and child protection agencies to help prevent instances where courts are not advised of family violence risks documented in state systems;
- $2.0 million for the Office for Women to support the development of strategies for the prevention of financial abuse;
- $2.1 million to provide national training for the primary care workforce to improve the family violence response capabilities of medical staff;
- $2.8 million to encourage respectful relationships and support student safety and wellbeing under the Respect Matters initiative; and
- $4.0 million for the Australian Communications Media Authority to identify, report and support victims of technology-facilitated abuse in high-risk Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and women who have intellectual disabilities to help protect themselves online.
- The Plan will also provide $13.4 million for a range of domestic and family violence support services to assist vulnerable women.
Baptist Care Australia broadly supports these initiatives but more needs to be done particularly in terms of providing safe, secure and affordable housing for people escaping violence.
The Budget last night revealed that there had been a significant underspend in the National Disability Insurance Scheme. There are obvious concerns about how and why this underspend occurred, and there will be a lot of questions raised about the efficiency and sustainability of the NDIS.
In other disability announcements, the Government committed $527.9 million over five years to fully support the work of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (subject to the finalisation of the Terms of Reference and consideration by the Governor-General).
The Government has also committed to spending money on fostering belonging and the economic participation for Australian immigrants. Initiatives include $12.6 million over 3 years to support community language schools and $7.3 million to support community organisations assist newly-arrived migrants to integrate into Australian society.
The Government is also spending more money on social impact investment pilots, with $14.1 million to establish three social impact investment trials in the social services sector. The trials will be of payment-by-outcome arrangements for initiatives that increase the workforce participation of people who receive income support payments and strengthen the wellbeing and self-reliance of families with children.
There was no commitment to raise Australian foreign aid, with a decrease in funding projected over the forward estimates.