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Giving with one hand and taking with the other for disadvantaged

Date published: Tuesday 9 May 2017

Category(ies): Media release

The peak body for Baptist Care community service organisations, Baptist Care Australia, welcomes Budget initiatives to address homelessness, housing, the NDIS and domestic violence, but is very worried about punitive measures being imposed on job seekers and others struggling with disadvantage.

“There’s some good news in the 2017 Budget, but also some very worrying punitive measures for job seekers and people coping with disadvantage,” said Marcia Balzer, Executive Director of Baptist Care Australia.

“Full funding for the NDIS will be secured through a 0.5% increase in the Medicare Levy. This revenue will be directly credited to the NDIS Savings Fund, currently being considered by parliament. It’s a relief to see that this large funding gap has not been filled by budget savings from people who can least afford it.

“We welcome the $1 billion allocation for a housing bond aggregator scheme to help make social housing simpler and more affordable to build. It will be very important for the government to consult widely with the not-for-profit sector to ensure people on the lowest incomes aren’t forgotten when the scheme is developed.

“A commitment to negotiate a new funding agreement with the states for homelessness and crisis accommodation services is welcome, but it’s critical that this process doesn’t take so long that existing funding runs out.

“Reversal of funding cuts for community legal centres and a commitment to improving the family law system are good news for people affected by domestic violence.

“Some small allocations for aged care projects are welcome, and we are particularly glad that no funding cuts have been included. The ongoing process of reform of the sector must continue in the collaborative vein that the government has been pursuing.

“Unfortunately, the government has again singled out people on income support for special punitive treatment.

“There is a new compliance system and increased activity requirements when we already have a very draconian system.

“Random testing for drug and alcohol users and further trials of the discredited Cashless Debit Card may well make matters worse rather than better for those subjected to these initiatives.

“This year’s Budget is good news on one hand, and bad news on the other,” Ms Balzer said.

The Baptist Care Australia network serves people in aged care, affected by family violence and homelessness, on low incomes, experiencing relationship breakdown, and affected by multigenerational disadvantage. Services provided include crisis and social housing, out-of-home care for children, counselling, no-interest loan schemes, and other services that help people rebuild their lives or live independently with the right support.

ENDS

Contact: Marcia Balzer, Executive Director, Baptist Care Australia, marcia.balzer@baptistcareaustralia.org.au, 0430 175 310