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Published: 7 October 2020

AASW National President Christine Craik has described last night’s Federal Budget as a missed opportunity and without a vision for effective solutions.

“The AASW understands the need to encourage job creation as a way out of this recession, but overall this Budget does nothing to address the nation’s most serious challenges. This is a Budget for taxpayers, so the most vulnerable are on their own in the face of the biggest recession in our history.”

‘While we agree with encouraging employers to hire young people and welcome the increase in the number of sessions with an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker available under Better Access, the situation for many vulnerable people - especially women - is not addressed in this Budget.”

“We know that more women than men lost their jobs during this crisis and that older single women are the fastest growing group of people facing homelessness in Australia. When you combine this with the failure to fund social or public housing, older single women without work are still facing the very real prospect of poverty and homelessness.”

“In addition, there is nothing provided in the Budget to assist older people return to the workforce, and no guarantee that people still relying on JobSeeker will have enough money for the necessities.”

“The money allocated for key initiatives like Closing the Gap, new Home Care Packages, and the Equal Remuneration Order Supplement is also far less than what is needed.”

“Single mothers are also disadvantaged by the Budget. The government is extending ParentsNext which we know punishes single mothers for being unemployed, yet has done nothing to address the entrenched structural challenges of returning to work, such as affordable childcare or affordable university degrees.”

“The Higher Education reform package has been passed by the Senate, but the AASW still holds concerns about its implications for students from disadvantaged backgrounds who choose to study social work. We don’t know what the social work pathway looks like and we fear that there will be a significant cost for social work students. We are also concerned for students from marginalised backgrounds who wish to study humanities and the debts they will incur.”

“The Federal Government has also missed a huge opportunity to address the environmental challenges we face in this country. The money in this Budget allocated for gas exploration is old thinking, which the private sector would fund if it thought it was worth funding. The failure of this Budget to address climate change condemns Australians to future climate change disasters,” Ms Craik said.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers