10 May 2023
The macroeconomic context remains difficult. This year's $4 billion surplus - resulting from record-high employment levels, increased wages, bracket creep, strong population growth and increased commodity prices - will be followed by several years of deficit. Meanwhile, the structural budget problems loom large, with a worrisome gap between ongoing expenditure and revenue. These challenges are haunting programs that need increased spending.
Within this context, the Government has demonstrated an awareness and concern for the people who are struggling the most in society by offering some supports that might keep the bottom from falling out entirely. These responses are a modest step in the right direction and very welcome.
But larger inequalities remain which will erode the egalitarian spirit of our society. As ACOSS points out:
"The government is providing an increase of $2.85 a day for people with the least. The Stage 3 tax cuts will deliver $25 a day to people on the highest incomes. We have our priorities wrong."
To put this in context of the budget figures, the highly-touted cost of living relief package commits $14 billion in expenditure, while the revised forecast for the stage 3 tax cuts amounts to $69 billion over the forward estimates. Baptist Care Australia will continue to support advocacy efforts by ACOSS to alleviate poverty for those at risk, and promote policy solutions that address growing wealth inequality.
The Budget also illuminates key shifts in focus by the Government. Notably for our members:
- A new approach to indexation for community services has been developed that should ensure more reliable alignment of indexation figures with the cost of service delivery, and
- A new concern for tackling entrenched disadvantage has been approached with a focus on place-based interventions.
Let's hope the improved outlook from indexation and the decentralised approach through more localised effort results in improvements for the local communities we work so hard to support.
After completing an initial scan of the Budget, we have identified key announcements which impact services provided by our member network in the areas of:
- Aged Care
- Social and Affordable Housing
- Community Services
- Poverty and Cost of Living
- Family and Domestic Violence
- First Nations peoples
Here we provide a high-level overview of Budget announcements, with additional measures of interest and more complex considerations to be noted over coming days and raised with our network Collaboration Groups. Each section also includes links to additional analysis and registration links for more detailed sector briefings and events.
Readers interested in the complete account of program spending can find details in Budget Paper No. 2.
If you have specific questions about the Budget that you'd like to ask, please contact Baptist Care Australia's Policy and Advocacy Advisor, Dr Robyn Sampson, at Robyn.Sampson@baptistcareaustralia.org.au - we also encourage you to join the conversation on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
The 2023-23 Federal Budget directs a significant contribution to address wage inequity and additional funding to action the response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Further detail is required to fully understand the impact that this budget has on addressing the financial challenges facing the sector. Aged care continues to be a government priority and now represents one of the top five areas of budget spending, and while this is welcome after many years of underfunding, we recognise that there remains much more to be done to ensure long term sustainability and sector reform to provide the increased quantity and quality of services that our ageing population both needs and deserves.
Most significant in the aged care budget is the $11.3 billion announced to fund the Fair Work Commission's 15% wage increase, although the $700k allocated to the implementation of an Aged Care Sustainability Taskforce - while a significantly smaller figure - has potential to be one of the more critical commitments to the securing the long term financial viability of the sector, generating much-needed conversations about ongoing funding including those around consumer co-contributions.
It is pleasing to see an additional 9,500 Home Care Packages announced, noting that this allows for the postponement of the Support At Home program rollout and a temporary reduction in the residential aged care ratio. After the rate and pace of reform over recent months, the decision to push the Support At Home program back one year to July 2025 is both welcome and necessary to allow for appropriate consultation and codesign, as well as adequate transition time.
Additional funding of note includes ongoing COVID-19 supports; investment in food and nutrition; commitment to a new regulatory model and prudential framework, to be reflected in the new Aged Care Act; further workforce development through migration and jobs and skills investments; Strengthening Medicare reforms, including a GP in aged care incentive and increased rural and remote supports; and increased commitment to improving aged care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
ACCPA has provided a detailed overview of aged care commitments in the 2023-24 Federal Budget, which members will have received via email. If you do not have access to ACCPA's commentary, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so we can rectify this issue for you.
Funding the 15% Wage Increase - $11.3 billion, including:
- Residential care (including AN-ACC pricing) - $8.5 billion over 4 years:
- the AN-ACC price for 2023/24 increases to $243.10, a 17% uplift from the $206 AN-ACC figure;
- a 'new' $10.80 hotelling supplement funding to cover the pay rise for head chefs and cooks.
- Home Care Packages program subsidy increase - $2.2 billion over 4 years
- Commonwealth Home Support Programme grant increase - $310 million over 4 years
- Flexible aged care programs funding increase - $236.8 million over 4 years
- Veterans' Home Care and Community Nursing fees increase - $82.5 million over 4 years
- Funding for leave liabilities - $98.7 million in 2023-24
- Establish a new Aged Care Sustainability Taskforce to review aged care funding arrangements, providing options and advice to Government ($0.7 million in 2022-23)
- Our understanding is that the Government aims to have this Taskforce stood up within the next six months, with the intent to have potential funding models considered for MYEFO.
Improving the inâ€‘home aged care system - $338.7 million over 4 years from 2023-24
The Government will postpone the commencement of the Support at Home Program to 1 July 2025 in response to sector feedback that a longer lead time is needed, and extend grant arrangements for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme for a further 12 months to 30 June 2025.
- An additional 9,500 Home Care Packages ($166.8 million in 2023-24)
- Design, build, implementation and sustainment of the ICT changes necessary to enable the new Support at Home Program ($73.1 million in 2023-24)
- Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority to undertake pricing and costing research activities to develop efficient unit prices annually for the Support at Home Program ($71.5 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- Establish a single aged care assessment system, including the establishment of a First Nations assessment workforce ($15.7 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Run a trial to test products and services for a new assistive technologies loan program, commencing in July 2024 within 2 states and territories ($10.9 million in 2024-25)
- Independent Implementation Readiness Assessment of the aged care reforms ($0.1 million in 2023-24)
Residential Aged Care
- A package of initiatives for Younger People in Residential Aged Care to further reduce the number of people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care ($7.3 million over 3 years from 2023-24)
- Issuing Monthly Care Statements to aged care residents with information on care provided and occurrences of significant change or events ($1.3 million)
- Improve aged care residents' dining experiences and food and nutrition reporting ($12.9 million over 2 years)
- Build a new place assignment system, allowing older Australians to select their residential aged care provider ($41.3 million over 4 years from 2023-24 (including $11.9 million in capital funding from 2022-23))
- This Budget also includes $2.7 billion over 4 years from 2023-24 in additional indexation for residential aged care based on advice from the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority. Baptist Care Australia will be pushing for visibility of this advice.
COVID-19 Aged Care Response - $591.3 million, including:
- Reimburse aged care providers for additional costs incurred due to COVIDâ€‘19 outbreaks that occur on or before 31 December 2023 ($536.6 million over two years from 2022-23)
- Extend access to inâ€‘reach PCR testing in residential aged care homes to 31 December 2023 ($41.3 million over two years from 2022-23)
- Reimburse aged care providers for the cost of leave entitlements for casual staff and those who have no other access to leave payments where staff cannot attend work due to being COVIDâ€‘19 positive ($13.4 million in 2023-24)
Regulatory Reform - $309.9 million over 5 years, including:
- Improve accountability and transparency through enhancements to the Star Rating system ($139.9 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- Development and implementation of a new, stronger Aged Care Regulatory Framework to support the new Aged Care Act which is due to commence from 1 July 2024 ($72.3 million in 2023-24)
- Fund the ICT infrastructure to establish a national worker screening and registration scheme from 1 July 2024 ($59.5 million over 5 years from 2022-23)
- Preliminary Report on the capability review of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission ($25.3 million in 2023-24)
Workforce Levers to expand the aged care workforce
- Expand and improve the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme, to support sustainable scheme growth and improve support for workers in line with Australian and Pacific aspirations ($370.8 million over 4 years)
- International student visa holders working in the aged care sector will be exempt from the work hour cap until 31 December 2023.
- Establishment of the Y Careers Agency to provide young people with employment opportunities in the care economy, including the early childhood education and care, disability and aged care sectors ($15.2 million over two years from 2022-23)
- Pre-budget, the Government has also announced the new Aged Care Industry Labour Agreement, developing a new approach for employers to sponsor direct care workers on skilled visas.
- The Government has announced a range of initiatives under the Strengthening Medicare program which aim to improve workforce pressures in the health sector, through boosting and incentivising employment of nurses in primary care. This may further impact the capacity of aged care to attract nursing staff in the future, or it may create a larger pool of nurses across the health and care sectors.
Improving Aged Care Support, continuing to respond to the Royal Commission recommendations - $827.2 million over 5 years, including:
- Extend, and make ongoing, the Disability Support for Older Australians Program ($487.0 million over 4 years from 2023-24 (and $133.6 million ongoing))
- New General Practice in Aged Care incentive payment to improve general practitioner attendance and continuity of care in residential aged care homes, and to reduce avoidable hospitalisations ($112.0 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- New Market Adjustment Program and to provide business advisory services to improve the viability of the residential aged care sector ($98.7 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Develop and implement a new Aged Care Act to support aged care sector reform and undertake discovery and design of associated ICT system changes ($81.9 million over 3 years from 2023-24)
- Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority to deliver its functions ($6.3 million over 5 years from 2022-23)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care - $77.3 million over 4 years, including:
- Increase the funding available to aged care providers in very remote areas under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program by calculating funding levels for residential care services using AN-ACC ($52.1 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Support providers transition to new accountability measures and obligations under the proposed new Aged Care Act ($8.1 million over 3 years from 2023-24)
- Fund capacity building of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations to potentially provide aged care services ($7.6 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Develop mandatory cultural awareness training for aged care staff ($4.1 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- Support project and program assurance activities ($3.8 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- Appoint an interim First Nations Aged Care Commissioner ($1.7 million in 2023-24)
Strengthening Medicare - Aged Care Impacts
- Redirection of medication management arrangements for residential aged care homes previously announced in the 2022â€‘23 March Budget ($73.5 million over 4 years from 2023-24 (and $3.6 million ongoing)). Improved medication safety and quality use of medicines for residential aged care residents will be led by community pharmacy.
- Community pharmacy programs under the Seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement (7CPA) ($654.9 million over 4 years from 2023-24 (and $168.4 million ongoing))
- Improve the provision of, and access to, primary care and support services in thin markets [ie. RRR] by trialling integrated services and joint commissioning across primary health, First Nations health services, disability, aged care, and veterans' care sectors in up to 10 locations ($27.0 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
Additional resources and analysis:
- Minister Butler & Minister Wells: Delivering the largest ever pay rise to aged care workers
- ACCPA: Budget delivers for aged care workers - but national conversation on aged care sustainability still required
- COTA Australia: Budget 2023 delivers positive news for older Australians - particularly older women
- Aged Care Workforce Industry Council: ACWIC welcomes aged care announcements in federal budget
- AMNF: A pathway for Nurses & Midwives to deliver better healthcare
Opportunities to learn more:
- ACCPA is hosting a budget briefing on Thursday 11 May, 12.00pm-1.00pm (AEST). The event is free for members but registrations are essential.
- The Department of Health and Aged Care is hosting a Residential Aged Care Funding - Budget Update on Tuesday 16 May, 2.30pm-3.30pm (AEST). Register now
- The Department of Health and Aged Care is hosting a Reforming In-Home Aged Care Update on Thursday 18 May, 2.00pm-4.00pm (AEST). Register now
Social and Affordable Housing
The Government's efforts on social and affordable housing remain focused on its proposed $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund, which is struggling to pass the Senate due to concerns the Government's housing measures are not adequate. It remains to be seen whether last night's Budget allocations will alleviate those concerns.
The biggest investment in housing was a 15% increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance payments ($31 per fortnight), the largest increase in 30 years (from Sept this year). This welcome change will alleviate the pressures on low-income Australians faced with sharp rental increases. In addition, it has the potential to support Community Housing Provider viability where rental policies attract 100% of the CRA. However, we remain concerned for the many people in housing distress not eligible for this support and the potential this has to further increase rents.
Additional Budget items relating to social and affordable housing largely account for the costs of decisions already made public.
As discussed in our briefing on the October 2022 Budget, the Labor Government is positioning itself as an enabling actor in the housing space by creating opportunities for cooperation and co-investment in housing supply and access. They reinforced this role with last night's Budget, in which they continued to introduce measures aimed at providing other actors with the resources needed to generate better access to housing.
Leverage the Federal Government's greater capacity to absorb financial risk by:
- Increasing the Governmentâ€‘guaranteed liability cap of the National Housing and Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC) by $2 billion to enable NHFIC to increase loans from the Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator
Directing use of funds in particular ways, including by
- Amending NHFIC's Investment Mandate to require NHFIC to take reasonable steps to allocate a minimum of 1,200 homes to be delivered in each state and territory within five years of the Housing Australia Future Fund commencing operation
- redirecting interest earnings on unallocated NHFIC funds to support more social and affordable housing and delivery of housing priorities
Direct investment measures
- Fulfil their commitment to homelessness services to cover the costs of the ERO as part of the one-year extension to the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement ($67.5 million in 2023â€‘24)
- New Homelessness Support Program to support homeless people's access to primary care services ($25.4 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Additional funds for Treasury to support delivery of measures ($2.7 million in 2023-24)
- Additional emergency accommodation and safe places in Alice Springs ($5.6 million in 2023-24)
Reduced tax revenue
The Government will absorb a $30 million reduction in tax revenue through tax incentives intended to increase supply via new build-to-rent projects:
- increasing the rate for the capital works tax deduction (depreciation) to 4 per cent per year
- reducing the final withholding tax rate on eligible fund payments from managed investment trust (MIT) investments from 30 per cent to 15 per cent.
Increase breadth of official expert advice to Government
- Enabling up to 3 additional members to be appointed to the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council to provide a greater breadth of policy expertise.
Expanding eligibility to the Home Guarantee Scheme to now include:
- single legal guardians of children (Family Home Guarantee)
- any 2 eligible people as joint applicants for a guarantee (not just spouses and de facto partners)
- Australian permanent residents (over 7.5 million people)
- people who have not owned a property in Australia for at least 10 years (First Home Guarantee and Regional Home Guarantee)
- A new oneâ€‘year partnership with the Northern Territory Government to accelerate building of new remote housing ($111.7 million)
- Support Aboriginal Hostels ($20.8 million)
- Housing works in Wreck Bay Village, Jervis Bay Territory ($23.3 million)
Expansion of supply is crucial to solving the current increase in housing insecurity, but complex factors continue to undermine efforts to respond. Yesterday's news that building approvals have slumped to their lowest level in a decade only crystallise these concerns. Criticisms that last night's Budget did not go far enough reflect a desire for the Federal Government to make a larger commitment and take a more direct role in this area of policy, given the current and growing number of people who are suffering the weight of housing distress.
Additional resources and analysis:
- Minister for Housing: Billions to boost housing and affordability
- Minister for Homelessness: Albanese government to deliver $67.5 million to boost Homelessness funding
- Everybody's Home: Mediocre budget won't shift the housing crisis
- CHIA: Budget delivers progress on housing, but more must be done
- National Shelter Federal: Budget supports low-income households in crisis but lacks bold and ambitious reform
- Property Council: Housing supply must rise to meet nation's migration needs - Property Council Australia
- Australia & New Zealand Property Journal (ANZPJ) Industry news: What the 2023 Federal Budget means for Property
- Core Logic: Labor's fresh take on housing, but could the budget go further? | CoreLogic Australia
Opportunities to learn more:
- National Shelter and CHIA are hosting a budget briefing on Monday 15 May at 12pm (AEST). The event is free but registrations are essential.
There are two key developments of note for all community service providers. First is a new approach to indexation that should ensure more reliable alignment of indexation figures with the cost of service delivery. Second is a new concern for tackling entrenched disadvantage has been approached with a focus on place-based interventions.
Some members may also be interested in the funds available for disaster support and climate change mitigation.
Indexation has been a big problem for government-funded services for many years, with active advocacy by a range of peaks including ACCPA and ACOSS on this issue for some time. In response, the Government has revised its indexation methodology to ensure it better aligns with economic conditions. The wages growth component has been updated to growth in the Wage Price Index and the previous arrangement to average the wage component over a 5-year period has been removed. The productivity offset remains.
This change in indexation calculation is reflected in the updated estimates for the relevant programs in this Budget, which increase by $242 million in 2023-24 and around $4 billion over the 4 years from 2023-24 to 2026-27.
The various portfolio statements list the programs that have had increased funding in the Budget as a result of changes in indexation. These are:
Department of Social Services
- Program 2.1: Families and Communities
- Program 3.1: Disability and Carers
- Program 3.2: National Disability Insurance Scheme
- Program 4.1: Housing and Homelessness
Department of Health
- Program 1.1: Health Research, Coordination and Access
- Program 1.2: Mental Health
- Program 1.3: First Nations Health
- Program 1.4: Health Workforce
- Program 1.5: Preventive Health and Chronic Disease Support
- Program 1.6: Primary Health Care Quality and Coordination
- Program 1.7: Primary Care Practice Incentives and Medical Indemnity
- Program 1.8: Health Protection, Emergency Response and Regulation
- Program 1.9: Immunisation
- Program 2.1: Medical Benefits
- Program 2.2: Hearing Services
- Program 2.3: Pharmaceutical Benefits
- Program 2.5: Dental Services
- Program 3.1: Access and Information
- Program 3.2: Aged Care Services
- Program 3.3: Aged Care Quality
- Program 4.1: Sport and Physical Activity
- Legal Services
- Family Relationships
- Criminal Justice
- Program 1.1 - Transport Security
- Program 1.2 - National Security and Criminal Justice
- Program 1.3 - Cyber Security
- Program 1.4 - Counter Terrorism
- Program 2.3 - Refugee, Humanitarian Settlement and Migrant Services
- Program 2.5 - Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship
Place-based community-led initiatives
The Government has introduced greater investment in place-based interventions to tackle entrenched and concentrated community disadvantage. As described by the Strengthening Communities Alliance Position Paper:
Place-based community-led change is an approach that that focuses on building strengths and capacities in communities where people are working together on building solutions to persistent and complex disadvantage, that demands collaborative action from a range of partners and that inverts standard power dynamics to privilege genuine community leadership.
This approach was recommended by the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee (Recommendations 11-30), which argued, "A tailored effort is needed in places of entrenched and persistent disadvantage and where communities face rapid economic, social or environmental dislocation. Preventing and alleviating disadvantage in these communities must be a priority for Australia."
Specific investments for 'Targeting Entrenched Community Disadvantage' (totalling $199.8 million over 6 years from 2023-24) include funding to:
- Establish a social impact investment Outcomes Fund to make contractual payments to states, territories and service providers based on delivering agreed, measurable outcomes through specific projects, with funding to be provisioned in the Contingency Reserve pending the outcome of a coâ€‘design process with stakeholders, including states and territories ($100.0 million over 5 years from 2024-25)
- Extend the Stronger Places, Stronger People program to deliver placeâ€‘based initiatives in partnership with 10 local communities and state and territory governments to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children and their families, and to enhance placeâ€‘based initiatives in 6 of these communities ($64.0 million over 6 years from 2023-24)
- Enable the Australian Bureau of Statistics to implement the Life Course Data Initiative to capture data insights to inform long term policy responses aimed at interrupting cycles of intergenerational disadvantage ($16.4 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- Establish a Social Enterprise Development Initiative to provide grants, online education and mentoring for eligible organisations to build capability to access capital, better participate in the social impact investing market and support improved social outcomes ($11.6 million over 3 years from 2023-24)
- Develop a wholeâ€‘ofâ€‘government Framework to Address Community Disadvantage that will identify strategic objectives and key principles to guide how the Commonwealth will work in partnership with communities to enable them to build their capability to address cycles of disadvantage ($7.8 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Support the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee on an ongoing basis with secretariat and research support ($8.7 million over 4 years from 2023-24, and $2.2 million per year ongoing)
Other funding for place-based initiatives in the Budget include funds for:
- Delivery of 7 place-based, trauma aware and culturally responsive healing programs aimed at early intervention and recovery and supporting families, to support families impacted by violence and at risk of engaging in the child protection system ($23.2 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- A redesigned Commonwealth foundation skills program that will include a specific focus on First Nations people with place based, whole of community projects designed to meet community language, literacy, numeracy, and digital needs, and delivered through First Nations organisations in partnership with TAFEs and other Registered Training Organisations, or Adult and Community Education sector providers.
- Establish the Urban Precincts and Partnerships Program to support investment in place based priorities of local urban communities through a collaborative partnerships approach with state, territory and local governments and communities [$159.7 million over 4 years from 2023-24]
Additional analysis and resources:
- Minister: Budget empowers local leaders to tackle disadvantage
- DSS: Fact sheet: Entrenched disadvantage package
- Third Sector: Opinion: Budget Hints at Future Not-for-Profit Help
- Ian Potter Foundation: Investment Dialogue for Australia's Children
- The Investment Dialogue for Australia's Children: New investment and community partnerships to improve outcomes for Australia's children
- Strengthening Communities Alliance (including BaptistCare HopeStreet) Strengthening Communities Position Paper
Last year, almost 70 per cent of Australians were impacted by emergencies, whether that be storms, floods, cyclones and bushfires. The following provide insight into some of the disaster response and mitigation measures in response.
Supporting communities after a disaster
The Budget allocated funding to:
- Provide urgent mental health and mosquitoâ€‘borne disease supports to communities impacted by flooding in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales, including First Nations communities ($9.8 million in 2022-23)
- Provide financial assistance to eligible New Zealanders in Australia following a disaster ($8.0 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- Extend mental health services supporting communities affected by disasters ($7.2 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Extend the Regional Small Business Support Program Pilot until 30 June 2023 to continue existing support to regional small businesses ($2.3 million in 2022-23)
Building better government disaster response infrastructure
The Budget allocated funding to:
- Uplift the capacity of the National Emergency Management Agency to support Australians during, and following, a disaster ($125.7 million over 5 years from 2022-23, and $28.3 million per year ongoing)
- Scope the capability needs to modernise Australia's emergency service communications ($10.1 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Supplement and maintain a national emergency management stockpile of disaster response resources ($8.6 million in 2023-24)
- Establish and maintain a Disaster Recovery Management System ($7.4 million over 4 years from 2023-24 and $0.6 million per year ongoing)
- Funding to finalise building a new national cell broadcast messaging system to improve emergency warning communications (nfp)
- Enable Services Australia to respond to natural disaster events ($231.8 million in 2023-24)
The Budget allocated funds:
- For disaster resilience initiatives through the Disaster Ready Fund to address a broad range of natural hazards, infrastructure needs, and for systemic risk reduction projects ($200 million in 2023-24 - already provided for)
- To remediate high priority flood warning infrastructure and address critical reliability risks ($236.0 million over 10 years from 2023-24, and $13.9 million per year ongoing from 2032-33)
Additional analysis and resources:
- National Emergency Management Agency: Federal Budget 2023-2024
- Services Australia: Fact sheet: Administration of Emergency Response Payments
- National Insurance Brokers Association: The 2023-24 Federal Budget unveils funding for disaster preparedness
Poverty, Cost of Living & Food Security
The Government introduced a set of measures to alleviate cost-of-living pressures for people on the lowest incomes, with a strong focus on reducing the costs of health care.
Importantly, it would appear the longstanding advocacy on the inadequacy of government payments, led by the Raise the Rate campaign, has been heard in the halls of Parliament. We look forward to the passage of enabling legislation to make these modest increases to base payments and expand eligibility for others.
While these changes are very welcome, much more will be needed to make up for the long-term erosion of those payment levels. We hope this lift is an indication by the Government that it intends to rebuild such payments to a level that provide recipients with sufficient support to ensure a basic standard of living in line with community standards. If so, we encourage the Government to outline it's timeframe for the full increases to be implemented.
Increase of support payments:
- Increase income support payments by $40 per fortnight
- Applies to JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment (Partnered), Austudy, ABSTUDY, Disability Support Pension (Youth), Special Benefit, and Farm Household Allowance.
- This will commence on 20 September 2023
- Increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 15%
Expanded eligibility criteria for key payments:
- Raising the eligibility age of the youngest child from 8 to 14 years old for the Single Parenting Payment, enabling 57,000 single principal carers to access $176.90 more per fortnight.
- Enabling 55-59 year olds who are unemployed for more than 9 months to be eligible for the $92.10 higher base payment currently available to those age 60 and over
- The majority of beneficiaries will be women
One-off support for key costs:
- A one-off $500 electricity bill relief for eligible households - which includes pensioners, Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders, Family Tax Benefit A and B recipients - through a new Energy Bill Relief Fund ($1.5 billion over two years from 2023-24)
Reduce cost of health care for users by investing funds to:
- Address the decline in general practitioners' bulk billing of Commonwealth concession card holders and children under 16 years of age ($3.5 billion over 5 years from 2022-23)
- Connect frequent hospital users to a general practice to receive comprehensive, multidisciplinary care in the community ($98.9 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- New and amended listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, including certain treatments for COVIDâ€‘19 ($2.2 billion over 5 years from 2022-23)
Increase health care support services with funds to:
- Deliver Medicare Urgent Care Clinics by the end of 2023, including for 8 new Clinics (of $358.5 million over 5 years from 2022-23)
- Strengthen Australia's mental health and suicide prevention system ($556.2 million over 5 years from 2022-23, and $36.0 million ongoing)
- Reduce costs and improve access to medicines and services delivered by community pharmacies ($1.3 billion over 5 years from 2022-23 against savings of $1.3 billion over 4 years from 1 July 2023)
Additional measures that may lead to improvements for our communities include funds to:
- Support for Men's Sheds and existing national men's health research and data collection initiatives ($10.9 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Progress work on longerâ€‘term adult public dental reform and extend the existing Public Dental Services for Adults funding agreement to 30 June 2025 ($219.4 million over 4 years from 2023â€24)
- Establish and operate 2 independent national mental health livedâ€‘experience peak bodies to advise on mental health policies and programs and to support livedâ€‘experience research ($8.7 million over 3 years from 2023-24)
- Minimise the harms of online gambling with a ban on the use of credit cards for online gambling in Australia (excluding forâ€‘profit and notâ€‘forâ€‘profit charitable and other lotteries) and continuing to support the National Selfâ€‘exclusion Register (BetStop) (nfp)
- Prevention, diagnosis and support activities relating to Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder ($5.0 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Address declines in childhood immunisation rates for children at 5 years and under ($3.4 million over two years from 2023-24)
Additional resources and analysis:
- Minister for Social Services: Boosting support payments to help with cost-of-living pressures
- ACOSS: Many welcome measures but JobSeeker still a poverty payment that must be fixed
- UnitingCare: Putting people first: UnitingCare Australia welcomes boost for the most vulnerable
- Salvation Army: JobSeeker increase a start, but not enough to address disadvantage in our community, according to the Salvos
- Opinion: Food banks reveal cost to society as banks profit surge
- Analysis: Budget spends big on support but won't make much difference to poverty
Opportunities to learn more:
ACOSS Post-Budget event with Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Monday 15th May 10am-12.30pm (AEST), Aerial UTS Function Centre, Ultimo, NSW
Family & Domestic Violence
The Government allocated $326.7 million over four years (and $19.4 million per year ongoing) towards implementation of the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022â€‘32. This commitment builds on the $1.7 billion over six years announced in the October 2022 Budget.
Key stakeholders welcomed these changes but remain adamant $1 billion is needed each year to achieve the government's ambitions of ending gender-based violence within a generation.
Funds will be used to:
- Initiatives aimed at early intervention to prevent domestic, family and sexual violence, including by developing a perpetrator risk assessment framework for frontline service providers, extending the Mensline Changing for Good Service and developing a national perpetrator referral database of services to improve uptake of intervention services ($8.5 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- Extend the Family and Domestic and Sexual Violence Responses National Partnership Agreement and to continue to address service gaps to and support frontline service delivery ($159.0 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Extend the current Escaping Violence Payment and Temporary Visa Holders Experiencing Violence Pilot to January 2025 ($38.2 million)
- Continue and expand nationally the Family Law Priority Property Pool program (PPP500) that helps separated couples achieve quick, fair and affordable settlements via a streamlined court process to resolve small property disputes ($33.1 million over 4 years from 2023-24, and $7.6 million per year ongoing)
- Pilot an additional referral pathway for the Support for Trafficked People Program and restructure the program to better meet the needs of victimâ€‘survivors, while increasing ongoing funding to address current and projected demand ($24.3 million over 4 years from 2023-24, and $5.9 million per year ongoing)
- Improve safety in international child abduction cases for women and children fleeing violence ($18.4 million over 4 years from 2023-24, and $5.0 million per year ongoing)
- Extend the Lawyerâ€‘assisted Family Law Property Mediation program, assisting separated couples to mediate and reach agreement on property division in family law matters involving small property pools ($13.4 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Develop and distribute social media resources for young people on consent with advice from an expert advisory group, and to support communityâ€‘led sexual violence prevention pilots ($12.1 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- Expand the family violence provisions within the Migration Regulations 1994 and support visa holders experiencing domestic and family violence ($10.0 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- The Attorneyâ€‘General's Department to work with states and territories to strengthen and harmonise sexual assault and consent laws and for the Australian Law Reform Commission to review justice responses to sexual violence ($6.5 million over 4 years from 2023-24, and $0.9 million per year ongoing)
- Review emergency accommodation services and their suitability for children and to conduct an independent evaluation of the 1800RESPECT service ($3.3 million over 3 years from 2023-24)
We note, in addition:
- the expanded eligibility for Parenting Payment (Single) for single principal carers whose youngest child is aged between 8 and 14
- the recent changes to the DSS Social Security Guide which say that Centrelink decision-makers should take into account the presence of family and domestic violence when making assessments about whether a person is a 'member of a couple' for social security purposes
Additional resources and analysis:
- Ministers' joint media release: Increased support to end violence against women and children
- Federal Circuit & Family Court of Australia: Commonwealth Budget provides support to the Courts to tackle financial-related family violence and child abduction cases
- Save the Children: Measures to tackle disadvantage welcome, but more targeted support for children needed
- Unicef: Budget offers some welcome new investment - but needs a continued commitment to all children
- Women's Legal Services Australia: Focus on gender equality welcome but vital legal support for women experiencing violence missing
- Economic Justice Australia: Expanding eligibility to single rate parenting payments - An important step to easier access by single parents experiencing domestic violence
- Marie Segrave et al, Monash University: Budget 2023-24: Towards an equal safety net for temporary visa holders experiencing violence
First Nations family safety
First Nations people are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence as non-Indigenous people.
The Government has allocated $194 million over 5 years from 2023-24 (and $4.0 million in 2027-28) to implement the proposal put forward by the First Nations delegates at the Women's Safety Summit to resource and support a Dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan, to be written for and by First Peoples. This is currently being developed through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Advisory Council on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence and will be in place by 1 August 2023.
Funding will be used to:
- Address immediate safety concerns for First Nations women and children who are experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, family, and domestic and sexual violence ($145.3 million over 4 years from 2023-24, including a provision of $128.6 million in the Contingency Reserve)
- Deliver seven placeâ€‘based, traumaâ€‘aware and culturally responsive healing programs aimed at early intervention and recovery and supporting families ($23.2 million over 4 years from 2023-24)
- Deliver on family safety initiatives under the Action Plan ($17.6 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Support the development of a standalone First Nations National Plan for Family Safety, including governance, secretariat and data arrangements ($7.8 million over 5 years from 2022-23, and $4.0 million in 2027-28)
- Support 16 Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Providers to deliver legal and nonâ€‘legal support to First Nations victim-survivors ($68.6 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Undertake an initial review to inform the development of a national standard for government data on lost, missing, or murdered First Nations women and children
Stakeholders welcomed these changes but noted substantive gaps in protections remain a serious and urgent concern.
Additional resources and analysis:
- Ministers' joint media release: Increased support to end violence against women and children
- SNAICC: Budget a mixed bag for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families
First Nations Peoples
Despite the 2008 commitment the Australian government made to address First Nations disadvantage in Australia (known as "Closing the Gap") deep disadvantage still exists. The gap refers to the vast health and life-expectation inequality between First Nations people and non-Indigenous people in Australia. This inequality includes:
- shorter life expectancy
- higher rates of infant mortality
- poorer health
- higher rates of incarceration
- lower levels of education and employment.
This Budget invests $1.9 billion over 5 years from 2022â€‘23 to deliver sustained, practical actions to improve the lives and economic opportunities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Address food security barriers by progressing improvements in accessing affordable food and other essential items in remote First Nations communities ($11.8 million over two years from 2023-24)
- This includes funding for the National Strategy for Food Security in remote First Nations communities to make essential food more affordable and accessible.
Housing - measures to address housing needs ($410.4 million) include funds to:
- Establish a new oneâ€‘year partnership with the Northern Territory Government to accelerate building of new remote housing ($111.7 million)
- Rectify the disrepair of residential housing in the Wreck Bay Village, Jervis Bay ($23.3 million over 4 years from 2023-24, and $45.1 million over 8 years to 2031-32)
- Extend the Indigenous Boarding Providers grants program for rural and remote First Nations students for an additional year ($21.6 million in 2023-24)
- Aboriginal Hostels Limited to improve the service offering and undertake urgent repairs and capital works ($20.8 million over two years from 2023-24)
- Critical works to supply essential services to Mutitjulu on the lands of the Anangu people ($92.8 million)
Improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in aged care ($77.3 million over 4 years from 2023-24) as oulined in our summary of aged care budget measures.
Better health - Investment totalling $561.6 million including funds to:
- Establish a 2â€‘year partnership with the Northern Territory Government and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory to enhance and develop activities supporting community safety and social emotional wellbeing on alcohol and drug use ($14.1 million over two years from 2022-23)
- Improve First Nations cancer outcomes ($238.5 million)
- Expand the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program, including vaping prevention ($141.2 million)
The funding also includes measures to improve educational outcomes and protect traditional knowledge ($150.5 million) and increase economic participation economic participation ($193.5 million).
Implementing the Uluru Statement
In the coming financial year, the Government will be holding a Constitutional Referendum to ask Australians whether to amend the Constitution to include a new chapter titled "Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples". The Budget allocated $364.6 million over 3 years from 2022-23 to deliver the referendum. Funding will be for:
- The Australian Electoral Commission to deliver the referendum, including $10.6 million to produce information pamphlets for the 'yes' and 'no' cases for distribution to all Australian households ($336.6 million over two years from 2023-24)
- The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) and the Museum of Australian Democracy for neutral public civics education and awareness activities ($12.0 million over two years from 2022-23)
- The Department of Health and Aged Care to increase mental health supports for First Nations people during the period of the referendum ($10.5 million in 2023-24)
- The NIAA for consultation, policy and delivery ($5.5 million in 2023-24)
- The Government will also extend the 2022-23 March Budget measure titled Indigenous Voice - Local and Regional Voice Implementation until 30 June 2025, to enable the investment of $20.0 million to progress Regional Voice arrangements.
We note, as an aside, the Budget provides for the Government to amend the tax law to specifically list organisations as deductible gift recipients. This includes DGR status for, among others, the Voice No Case Committee from the day after the entity is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission to 30 June 2024.
Investing in Central Australia
The Government is providing $250 million to deliver the plan for A Better, Safer Future for Central Australia in addition to the $48.8 million investment announced on 24 January 2023. The plan is focusing on 6 priority areas:
- improved community safety and cohesion
- job creation
- better services
- preventing and addressing issues caused by Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
- investing in families
- onâ€‘country learning to improve school attendance and completion.
Additional resources and analysis:
- Ministers' Joint Media Release: Investing in a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
- Ministers' Joint Media Release: New Investment to Support A Better, Safer Future for Central Australia
- Fact sheet: Empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- National Indigenous Australians Agency: National Strategy for Food Security in Remote First Nations Communities