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Balanced budget should not be at vulnerable people's expense

Published: 3 May 2017

The 2017 budget’s success should be measured in terms of its social impact as well as its economic
consequences, the President of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), Professor Karen
Healy, AM, has said today.

“A balanced budget should not be at the expense of vulnerable people. Fiscal responsibility should not
lead to a deterioration in the situation of people who are already vulnerable,” said Professor Healy.

“People relying on Newstart, Youth and other allowances such as university students, are currently
struggling to make ends meet, and the government needs to make sure that they are not further
disadvantaged by measures to balance the budget, such as the proposed changes to student loans."

The AASW has conducted a survey of social work students showing that the level of support is so low
that some students have reported having to choose between transport to a job interview and clothes for
the interview because they could not afford both.

“The level of support has dropped so low that it prevents some from making the most of the opportunity
to study,” said Professor Healy.

Professor Healy continued that the government’s proposal to lowering the level of income at which
graduates repay their debt is another example of it targeting people who can least afford it.

“It will disadvantage graduates in the human service professions, such as social work," Professor Healy said.

“A better way to re-coup the money from their student loans would be to intervene to raise the levels of
the social workers’ salaries.”

“Everyone has the right to an environment that enables them to flourish and the federal budget is the
government’s primary opportunity to set up the conditions for people to pursue meaningful and
rewarding lives.”

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers