26 October 2022
Australian Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, last night handed down the Labor Government's first Federal Budget (October 2022-23), which the Treasurer introduced as "a solid and sensible Budget - suited to the conditions."
Overall, this was a safe Budget that focused on fulfilling election promises while moderating expectations in light of the bleak outlook. There has been some public sentiment expressed that the new Labor government has not gone far enough in meeting the needs of vulnerable Australians, who are facing a rapid rise in the cost of living with few - if any - new supports from government.
Baptist Care Australia continues to work through the Budget Papers and will provide further in-depth analysis and commentary to Members next week. Here we provide a high-level overview of Budget announcements, with additional measures of interest and more complex considerations to be outlined in our future communication. Readers interested in the complete account of program spending can find those details in Budget Paper No. 2.
Baptist Care Australia's response
Baptist Care Australia sees this as a positive start from a new Government, and we welcome investments in social and affordable housing; health and aged care; community services; child care; The Voice to Parliament and closing the gap; education; disaster relief; paid parental leave; and family and domestic violence. These are areas of our communities that urgently need to be addressed and we are pleased to see Labor committing to these issues.
But these need to be the first steps - there is still so much more to be done.
This Budget makes it evident that Australia's economic outlook is going to get worse before it gets better. Rising inflation, unemployment, and costs of living continue to increase pressure on low income households. It's disappointing that low income earners and the 1 in 8 Australians living in poverty are not seeing relief from this Budget, and we will continue to advocate for Government to address this through an increase to income support payments.
After completing an initial scan of the Budget, we have identified the following key announcements, which impact services provided by our member network in the areas of:
- Social and Affordable Housing
- Aged Care
- Poverty, Cost of Living and Food Security
- Family and Domestic Violence
- From The Heart, the Indigenous Voice to Parliament
- Other measures of interest
We will continue to review the Budget Papers in more depth and will provide members with further detailed analysis next week. If you have specific questions about the Budget that you'd like us to address in our commentary, please let us know via email to 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.
Social & Affordable Housing
The Government announced an aspirational target to build one million new homes between 2024-2029. This relies on an injection of approximately 100,000 additional new homes alongside the existing forecasted supply of 900,000 homes in that period. The additional new homes rely on the funding and in-kind commitments established under the new Housing Accord which has been struck between all three tiers of government, institutional investors and the construction sector.
The Government further delivered on its pre-election commitment to create a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund that will deliver 20,000 social housing units and 10,000 affordable housing units over five years. Additional commitments from the Housing Accord will deliver an additional 20,000 affordable homes, while changes that broaden the remit of the National Housing Infrastructure Facility (announced as part of the Jobs Summit) will support an additional 5,500 new social and affordable homes. Altogether, the announcements by the new Government will result in a total of 55,500 new affordable and social housing units being built.
It will take a deep level of commitment and clear-sighted decision-making from all parties to achieve these ambitious goals in the face of many adverse factors.
Key Government publications and statements by partners on housing in the budget:
- Government fact sheet: Improving housing supply and affordability
- Minister Collins media release: Helping more Australians into homes
- Everybody's Home: Housing Accord could be a game changer for rental crisis
- Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA): Housing Accord a breakthrough moment
Aged care was allocated an additional $3.9 billion to enable the Government to implement its pre-election commitments, maintain COVID-19 responses to the end of 2022 and continue to progress the multifaceted reform agenda stemming from the Royal Commission.
The key spending for aged care services over 4 years from 2022-23 is largely represented by allocations in the following areas:
Funds to increase resident staffing care
$2.5 billion over 4 years from 2022-23 to fund:
- 24/7 on-site registered nurses at all residential aged care facilities from 1 July 2023.
- Minimum of 215 care minutes per resident per day from 1 October 2024.
Managing COVID to the end of 2022
$845.4 million in 2022-23 to manage the impacts of the COVIDâ€‘19 pandemic to 31 December 2022.
Improving IT systems
$312.6 million over 4 years from 2022-23 for essential aged care information and communication technologies system maintenance and enhancements, including streamlined reporting, and to enable aged care sector reform.
- $68.5 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to extend and expand the Regional Stewardship of the Aged Care outreach model to strengthen governance and aged care reforms in regional areas.
- $53.5 million for 12 months from 1 January 2023 to extend the Disability Support for Older Australians Program to 31 December 2023.
AN-ACC Transition Fund expansion
$43.8 million over 3 years from 2022-23 to expand eligibility for the Australian National Aged Care Classification Transition Fund by including the Basic Daily Fee supplement in the calculation that determines the amount of financial support for facilities
Establishing new oversight bodies
- $38.7 million over 4 years from 2022-23, to establish the Inspectorâ€‘General of Aged Care and the Office of the Inspectorâ€‘General of Aged Care as a Statutory Agency.
- $9.9 million over two years from 2022-23, to establish the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner within the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission from December 2022.
Improving services for First Nations, diverse communities and regional areas
$23.2 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to improve aged care infrastructure and services that provide additional support to older First Nations peoples, and older Australians from diverse communities and regional areas.
Support at Home reform
$23.1 million in 2022-23 to support the implementation of the Support at Home Program from July 2024 through conducting a large scale trial of an integrated assessment tool, the establishment of a Service List Advisory Body, commissioning the Independent Hospital and Aged Care Pricing Authority to undertake a pricing study, and to consult with the aged care sector.
New financial reporting requirements
$8.2 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to increase financial transparency through the introduction of new financial reporting requirements for residential aged care providers.
Maggie Beer Foundation food program
$5.0 million over 3 years from 2022-23 to the Maggie Beer Foundation to support the sector in providing better food for residential aged care and home care recipients.
Registration scheme for personal care workers
$3.6 million in 2022-23 to establish a national registration scheme and code of conduct for personal care workers in the aged care sector.
Key Government publications and statements by partners on aged care in the budget:
- ACCPA media release: Budget invests in care for older Australians, though shortfalls remain
- Restoring dignity to aged care: Summary of package
- Rebuilding our health and aged care workforces: Summary of package
- Minister Butler's Media release: Restoring dignity to aged care
Poverty, Cost of Living & Food Security
The budget offered little to help the 1 in 8 Australians living in poverty despite the rapid rise in costs of living and no other prospects of relief in the next few years. It was deeply concerning the Government did not increase basic payments, such as JobSeeker, which are so low that recipients are often forced to miss meals and essential medicines.
The budget did not tackle the issue of food security despite the concerns arising from the multiple issues impacting food supply such as multiple major flooding events in key agricultural areas in Australia and global supply issues.
The Government has dropped the co-payment on scripts on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 1 January 2023, with the maximum co-payment falling from $42.50 to $30 per script. This is expected to cost the Government $782 million over four years. Additional medicines will also be added to the PBD list, which will cost around $1.4 billion.
The budget also forecast that more Australians will fall into poverty in the mid-term. The economic outlook is so grim that the Treasurer is now predicting unemployment to rise to 4.5 per cent by the June quarter of 2024 - or even 5 per cent if global conditions worsen - thus abandoning recent hopes of establishing an economy based on full employment rates.
Key Government publications on cost of living in the budget can be found at the following links:
- Budget October 2022-23: Cost of living relief
- Minister Rishworth media release: Supporting families to ease cost of living pressures and promote women's workforce participation
- ACOSS media release: Budget builds good foundations; more support needed for people facing multiple and unrelenting crises
Family & Domestic Violence
The Government allocated $1.7 billion in the budget to tackle gender-based violence over six years. Key commitments that address family and domestic violence include the following:
- 500 new frontline service and community workers ($169.4 million)
- Crisis and transitional housing options for women and children fleeing domestic and family violence and older women on low incomes who are at risk of homelessness, through the Housing Australia Future Fund ($100 million)
- Consent and respectful relationships education ($83.5 million over 6 years)
- Implementation of all the recommendations of the Respect@Work Report ($42.5 million)
- Account for the increase in demand on the Escaping Violence Payment program ($39.6 million in 2022-23)
- Trial of innovative responses to address the behaviour of perpetrators ($25 million over 5 years)
- Extend the program assisting Temporary Visa Holders experiencing family, domestic and sexual violence ($12.6 million over 2 years)
- Implementation of 10 days paid domestic and family violence leave ($3.4 million)
- Restore funding to the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Service forum ($3.0 million)
Additional measures combat gender inequalities by working to achieve economic equality for women through cheaper childcare ($4.7 billion), expansion of the paid parental scheme to 26 weeks ($531.6 million), two new Expert Panels on Pay Equity and the Care and Community Sector in the Fair Work Commission ($20.2 million).
Key Government publications on family and domestic violence in the budget can be found at the following links:
- Joint Ministerial media release: Increased support to end violence against women and children
- Minister Gallagher media release: Labor invests over $7 billion to drive gender equality
Uluru Statement From the Heart: The Indigenous Voice to Parliament
The budget included funds that enable the Government to move ahead with its commitments to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full. This included funding to prepare for the delivery of a referendum to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution as well as funding to commence work on establishing an independent Makarrata Commission.
The Government allocated $75.1 million over two years from 2022-23 to prepare for the delivery of a referendum to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution. This measure is additional to $160.0 million in funding already provisioned in the Contingency Reserve. The new funds will go to the following bodies:
- Australian Electoral Commission and other agencies to commence preparations and support work to deliver the Referendum ($52.6 million over two years from 2022-23)
- Australian Electoral Commission to increase First Nations enrolment and participation in future electoral events ($16.1 million over two years from 2022-23)
- National Indigenous Australians Agency to support the Referendum, including the establishment of a governance structure to support the special advisory groups that will engage with stakeholders and provide advice to Government ($6.5 million over two years from 2022-23).
Further, the Government provided $5.8 million over 3 years from 2022-23 to commence work on establishing an independent Makarrata Commission to oversee processes for agreement making and truth telling. This is part of the Government's $27.7 million election commitment to establish a Makarrata Commission.
Information about additional Budget measures aimed at supporting First Nations communities will be provided in our briefing to Members.
Key Government publications on the Uluru Statement commitments in the budget can be found at the following link:
- Ministers Burney and McCarthy media release: Delivering a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians
Other measures of interest
The Government will provide $560 million over 4 years from 2022-23 to support Community Sector Organisations at need of funding supplementation, due to additional staff wages pressures and higher inflation outcomes.
In addition, the Productivity Commission will review the current framework to incentivise philanthropy in the notâ€‘forâ€‘profit sector, and the Department of Social Services will work with the notâ€‘forâ€‘profit sector to develop a sector-led notâ€‘forâ€‘profit Blueprint, as a roadmap towards providing the notâ€‘forâ€‘profit sector with support and strategic direction to expand their services in coming years.