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Federal Budget 2021-2022

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. The AASW calls on the federal government to use this budget to address global warming, overcome inequality and promote Reconciliation.


AASW 2021-22 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

2021-2022 Budget analysis

Although there has been much attention on the press about the provisions in this month’s federal budget on mental health, aged care and programs for women, closer analysis shows that it is not all good news. While we welcome some of the budget’s announcements, they fall short of what is needed for those areas of spending. We still have serious concerns about areas of policy which were unchanged or which the budget ignored altogether.

Mental Health

We welcome an additional $2.3 billion over four years for the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, but we are concerned there is no permanent model for telehealth beyond 31 December 2021.


The Productivity Commission recommended Australia’s mental health system should have a much great focus on prevention, so we welcome the allocation of 11% of this year’s federal budget for mental health will go towards prevention and early intervention.

But we are concerned that for the broader health budget, prevention struggles to receive 2% of total expenditure.

Income support

We welcome the end of the expensive, ineffective Community Development Program.

But there was no increase to the harsh and punitive level of JobSeeker which enforces poverty on people who are unable to find secure employment, and there is also no change to the Cashless Debit Card or ParentsNext, both of which are equally punitive and equally ineffective.

Aged Care

We welcome the government’s announcement of $18 billion over 4 years

But it falls short of the $10 billion annually that the Royal Commission recommended.

We are concerned that this funding will be used to support for-profit aged care providers and are very concerned at the lack of guarantee that any of this money will improve care of older people or increase the skills of and payment for staff.

We welcome the government’s acceptance of the recommendations of the Royal Commission and look forward to announcements on the structural reforms necessary to achieve a rights-based system of aged care.


There was no increased investment in social housing.

Climate Action and environmental change

We are disappointed that there was no positive action on climate change and instead, the Budget continues to subsidise fossil fuel industries.


We strongly protest at the measures which retrospectively impose a 4-year waiting period onto newly arrived migrants before they can receive income support

Gender Equity

We reject the characterization of this as a Budget which assists women. The Budget allocates $600 million to women’s economic security but ACOSS estimates that the tax cuts to high income earners and business will deliver more than 30 times this amount to high income males.


Pre-Budget media release

Post-Budget media release

2020 submission to COVID-19 Inquiry

In April 2020, the AASW submitted to the Senate’s inquiry into the government’s handling of COVID-19. In that 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 long term 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 - Australian Association of Social Workers