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Federal Budget 2018-2019

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.


Please read our Federal budget 2018-19 report providing an analysis of what the AASW has advocated for in 2018 (AASW's pre-budget submission) and what was delivered in this latest budget, and an analysis of key budget measures and their relevance to social workers.


Federal budget must include provisions to ensure a decent standard of living for all, says AASW

Published: 2 May 2018

Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) National President Christine Craik today called on the Government to overturn the recent policies which have put a decent standard of living, and participation in the life of the community, out of reach of many people, ahead of the Budget speech next week.

Tuesday night’s Budget prioritised hip pocket savings over real help for Australia’s most disadvantaged

Published: 11 May 2018

Tuesday night’s Federal Budget was a missed opportunity to provide a decent standard of living for Australia’s most disadvantaged and for every school to be provided with highly trained mental health professionals the AASW’s National President Christine Craik said.


The AASW's pre-budget submission called on the government to address 5 key areas.

1. Financial security and ensuring adequate income


  • Lift immediately the rate at which Allowances for people of working age are paid to equal the amounts specified in the Minimum Income for Healthy Living.
  • Increase the rates of pensions, allowances and student payments, lower the income eligibility thresholds, relax waiting periods and decrease the taper rates to ensure that income support payments remain higher than the poverty line.
  • Restore staffing levels within the sections of the public sector that have personal contact with people on low incomes.

2. Economic participation and withdrawal of the Cashless Debit Card


  • Abandon the compulsory cashless welfare card and instead implement initiatives that have been demonstrated to promote full economic, social and cultural participation.
  • Replace the current work-for-the-dole program and job preparation programs with a targeted strategy to identify workforce needs, and create effective pathways into meaningful work for all young people.

3. Family violence and access to justice


  • Raise the level of funding for the family court to enable cases to be heard within reasonable time limits and employ more staff in roles that reduce the level of conflict within families.
  • Implement compulsory training for all staff in the family court to identify indicators of family violence and to ensure court processes prevent perpetrators from continuing to abuse their partners and children.
  • Guarantee future long-term funding for legal aid services, and ensure that all women who 5 have experienced family violence receive adequate legal representation.
  • Commit funding to ensure that only professional workers who reach a certain standard of family violence training/qualification to write Family Court reports.

4. Medicare, mental health and services to older people


  • Fund and make mandatory the training of health and community care workers to recognise and respond to complex needs in older people such as poor mental health or elder abuse.
  • Ensure equitable access for older people with complex psychosocial needs to comprehensive support. This can be achieved by extending eligibility for rebatable Medicare services from an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker so that it includes residents of aged care facilities.
  • Reform the Medicare payment schedule so its the same for Accredited Mental Health Social Worker and registered psychologists when carrying out the same work.

5. Housing and homelessness


  • Reform the tax treatment of housing to remove distortions and improve affordability.
  • Promote public and private investment in new affordable housing to address the shortfall in affordable housing stock.
  • Increase the maximum rate and improve indexation of Commonwealth Rent Assistance to relieve rental stress.
  • Reform tenancy protections to provide more security for people who rent.

The full submission is available here.


Read the AASW's position statements here.


Every body's homeEverybody’s home - Join the campaign for a better, fairer housing system for everyone. Every Australian needs a place to call home.

Raise the rateRaise the Rate (as part of ACOSS) - Newstart and related payments including Youth Allowance, have not increased in real terms in 24 years. They are now so low people cannot afford basic necessities like housing, meals, bills and transport, even if they get Rent Assistance. We need to Raise the Rate so everyone has a roof over their head and food on the table. Because it’s impossible to look for paid work if you’re homeless and hungry.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers