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Federal Budget 2020-2021

Parliament House, Canberra

The federal budget is the government’s primary opportunity to set the conditions under which people will pursue full, meaningful and rewarding lives. Everyone has the right to an environment - social, economic and natural - in which it is possible to flourish and thrive. Therefore, the success of any budget is measured by its social impact as well as its economic consequences.

Instead of the usual 12 months between Federal Budgets, this year, we have had almost 16 months. That has given us all time to highlight the big challenges we are facing and the importance of combined action to overcome them. The AASW calls on the federal government to use this budget to address global warming, overcome inequality and promote Reconciliation.

AASW PRE- BUDGET SUBMISSIONS

Submission to Treasury

The AASW submitted to the annual call by the federal treasury for submissions concerning what should be in the federal budget. In summary, our recommendations were focused on:

  • Climate action and the SDG’s
  • Bushfire response and recovery
  • The right to adequate standard of living.  
  • Reconciliation 
  • Mental health
  • People living with Disability
  • Family violence
  • Homelessness
  • Aged care

Submission to COVID-19 Inquiry

In April, the AASW submitted to the Senate’s inquiry into the government’s handling of COVID-19. In hat document we noted that The pandemic provides an opportunity to review what kind of society we want to be, and as a crisis, it is a pivotal opportunity to create long term and sustainable change described our vision for reconstructing a just, sustainable and inclusive Australia.

In summary, our recommendations were:

  • The creation of a social safety net that supports people to move out of poverty, instead of entrenching it.
  • Mental health reform, ensuring a person centred, human-rights based, multifaceted and systemic approach.
  • Action on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Establish a Voice to Parliament as described in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
  • Address the system interface issues faced by people with psycho-social disability and the mental health system, and the drug and alcohol service sector.
  • That governments lead a substantial investment in social and affordable housing and a strategy to ensure that everyone in Australia has access to safe, affordable housing.
  • That federal and state governments adopt the recommendations of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family violence as a framework for reform, and commit to implementing them.
  • Commit to end homelessness, paying particular attention to women and children needing to escape from family violence, and older single women.
  • That the government commit to ACOSS’s proposal for economic recovery, and work with all stakeholders on implementation to achieve fair and equitable outcomes.
  • That the Workplace Gender Equity Agency(WGEA) be funded monitor the gendered impact of COVID-19 and to provide a framework for a systemic national Gender Equity strategy. welcome the opportunity to discuss any of the points raised in this submission further with the Committee.

You can read that submission here.

Our position statements on key social policy issues are available here.

AASW MEDIA RELEASES

Federal budget is an opportunity to outline plans for building a just and inclusive Australia.

AASW National President, Christine Craik has called on the Federal Government to use the upcoming Budget to focus on issues crucial for constructing an Australia that is better for everyone.

“Overcoming inequality, addressing global warming and promoting Reconciliation are the three of the most important steps in shaping a just and inclusive Australia. This Budget is the Government’s chance to start this process,” she said.

You can read our pre-Budget media release here, our post-Budget media release here, and our media release focusing on Budget mental health initiatives here.

BUDGET OUTCOMES FOR SOCIAL WORK

Our recommendations Budget announcement
The creation of a social safety net that supports people to move out of poverty, instead of entrenching it.
  • Two payments of $250 to pensioners
  • Wage subsidy scheme for employment of young people from JobSeeker youth allowance and parenting payments. (NB no childcare assistance will make it difficult for single women with children to take this up.)
  • Parents Next, cashless debit card and income management will be extended for 3 years, with all the faults we have documented, and no figures have been released.
Comment: No information about extension of Jobseeker COVID supplement which is due to expire in December
Mental health reform, ensuring a person centred, human-rights based, multifaceted and systemic approach.
  • Doubling of number of sessions available through MBS.
  • $60mil on a variety of mental health services, and more for services in Victoria
Action on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Announcements of projects that have already been identified.
Establish a Voice to Parliament as described in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
  • Indigenous business Australia will get $150 million for three years for 360 home loans (!) for housing construction in rural areas.
  • $46.5 m over 4 years for Closing the Gap, but this has already been announced and includes the above and is far less than is needed.
  • $101m for return of cultural heritage, and $7.6m for scholarships for young people, and again it is not clear whether this is new.
Address the system interface issues faced by people with psycho-social disability and the mental health system, and the drug and alcohol service sector.
  • $3.9 billion allocated is described as reflecting participants costs, but it is only a transfer of last year’s underspend.

Comment: NDIS Minister’s Media release says it is to implement Tune Review and improve consistency in decision making. This is a reference to the Independent Assessment project which AASW were involved in and is described by PWDA as deeply unpopular amongst participants because it is seen as a way to drive costs down.

That governments lead a substantial investment in social and affordable housing and a strategy to ensure that everyone in Australia has access to safe, affordable housing.
  • Increase of money for loans to people building affordable housing for sale
  • The budget in fact contains cut of $41.3 million for homelessness funding.

Comment: Nothing for supplying public or social housing, despite overwhelming support form across all sectors of community and private sectors.

That federal and state governments adopt the recommendations of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family violence as a framework for reform and commit to implementing them.
  • Money mentioned in budget speech is not a new allocation but unspent portion of a previous one.
Commit to end homelessness, paying particular attention to women and children needing to escape from family violence, and older single women.
  • Nothing
That the government commit to ACOSS’s proposal for economic recovery, and work with all stakeholders on implementation to achieve fair and equitable outcomes.
  • Tax cuts to people earning more than $120,000 pa.
  • There will also be cuts to tax that business pays.
  • There will be a cap on humanitarian visas and cut to the number of refugees accepted,and a cut of a third of funding for people seeking asylum
  • $44m p/a over 4 years is set aside for ERO and this falls far short of the $500m that ACOSS estimate is required

Comment: Remember that half of all people who pay any tax earn under $50,000 a year, so this measure is not aimed at ‘Middle Income’ earners but at people who are relatively rich already. The average wage is actually more than what is earned by 83% of the population of taxpayers. We need to resist the government’s line that they are supporting ordinary people.

That the Workplace Gender Equity Agency (WGEA) be funded monitor the gendered impact of COVID-19 and to provide a framework for a systemic national Gender Equity strategy. welcome the opportunity to discuss any of the points raised in this submission further with the Committee.
  • $240.5m of expenditure on women’s economic security over 5 years, this equates to less than 1% of total Budget expenditure despite women being hardest hit by the COVID pandemic.
Comment: For example, there is financial support for big infrastructure projects but no support for childcare or community services. I.e. these projects take a long time to come online, have high extra costs in materials and generally employ men, as distinct from caring work which can start immediately, provides more jobs per dollar, and employs women.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers