We are sure you’ve received many commentaries on Tuesday’s Federal Budget, but The CCCC thought it might be helpful to focus specifically on the vulnerable people we support locally…

Housing & Homelessness

  • additional funding of $375 million over three years from 2018-19 as part of the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement to fund front line services to address homelessness
  • providing more security for renters by working with State and Territory governments to standardise use of long-term leases.
  • increasing the capital gain discount for housing provided through CHP’s to low to moderate income tenants, with rent charged at a discount below the private rental market rate, for a minimum period of three years.
  • the Government will boost the supply of housing by:
    • working with State and Territory governments to set housing supply targets and facilitate planning and zoning reform;
    • establishing a $1 billion National Housing Infrastructure Facility to address infrastructure chokepoints that are impeding housing development in critical areas of undersupply;
  • the Government will apply an annual charge (minimum $5,000) to foreign owners who leave their properties unoccupied or not available for rent for six months or more each year.

 

Unemployment, Education & Training

  • refocus Work for the Dole and introduce a new Jobseeker Compliance Framework that includes a Personal Responsibility Phase with a three-strike Intensive Compliance Phase, in which they will face escalating penalties. They will:
    • lose 50 per cent of their fortnightly payment for their first strike without a reasonable excuse;
    • lose 100 per cent of their fortnightly payment for their second strike; and
    • have their payment cancelled for four weeks for their third strike.

The new process will simplify the compliance system and provide vulnerable people with support by ensuring appropriate, individualised assessments are undertaken by providers and the Department of Human Services before any financial penalties are incurred for not meeting obligations. These assessments will take into account individual circumstances to ensure that people with genuine issues are not unfairly penalised. The new Compliance Framework will include initiatives aimed at reducing substance misuse among welfare recipients.

  • Indigenous and vulnerable new parents will receive tailored support services through ParentsNexts to help them develop pathways to their employment and educational goals, and link them with services available in their communities to help them reach these goals. These services could include childcare, pre-employment training, financial management and literacy and numeracy classes.
  • Indigenous communities provided with enhanced support including:
    • $33.2 million over five years from 2016-17 to deliver pre-employment training and mentoring for Indigenous participants
    • expand access to the Transition to Work program to all Indigenous job seekers aged 21 years or under;
    • allowing immediate access to increased wage subsidies (from $6,500 to $10,000) for Indigenous participants
  • a schools funding model that is genuinely needs-based, simple and transparent. Commonwealth funding will be tied to the reform and accountability efforts made across both the government and non-government sectors to improve educational outcomes.
  • the delivery of professional learning to teachers in primary and secondary schools and the development of materials to improve financial literacy in schools.
  • The National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development to deliver:
    • a vocational education and training (VET) system with improved quality and greater transparency for students, employers and governments
    • greater access to training opportunities
    • improved outcomes for disadvantaged students, and
    • greater efficiency.
  • $24.0 million over four years from 2017-18 to implement a new framework and funding model for the Disability Employment Services (DES) program from 1 July 2018. The new framework aims to improve the DES program performance by:
    • making it easier for DES participants to choose and change providers, with funding to follow participants;
    • providing greater incentives for providers to achieve employment outcomes for job seekers, including longer term employment outcomes and outcomes for those with significant employment barriers;
    • indexing provider payments from 1 July 2019 to ensure that cost increases for DES providers will not impact on the services they deliver to DES participants; and
    • undertaking a trial to expand DES to a broader group of school leavers with less significant disability, to assist them to successfully transition from school to work.
  • The current jobactive program will be enhanced to support both mature age and inexperienced job seekers to increase their chances of finding employment, including through a new Career Transition Assistance Program.
  • $24.0 million over four years from 2017-18 to establish a Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships program to improve educational attainment, skills development, and employment opportunities for rural and regional students. From 2017, at least 1,200 Rural and Regional Enterprise Scholarships of up to $20,000 each will be available for students undertaking undergraduate, post-graduate or vocational education and training qualifications in priority fields of study including science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health.

 

Health

  • From 1 July 2019 the Medicare levy will increase by half a percentage point and directed to the NDIS Savings Fund
  • establish an independent NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission to oversee:
    • regulation and registration of providers;
    • complaints handling; and
    • reviewing and reporting on restrictive practices.
  • GP bulk billing incentives which will be indexed from 1 July 2017, to ensure that GPs are encouraged to bulk bill children under the age of 16 and concession card holders
  • subsidised access to new health services including new treatments for stroke and epilepsy related conditions
  • $1.2 billion for new and amended listings on the PBS,
  • reducing the risk of suicide by funding infrastructure projects, such as barriers, fencing and lighting, at identified locations.
  • funding to deliver improved health, social, economic and housing outcomes for people with severe and persistent mental illness by addressing service gaps and preventing ongoing cycling through State mental health systems:
    • $9.1 million over four years from 2017-18 to improve access to psychological services through telehealth in regional, rural and remote Australia
    • $80.0 million over four years from 2017-18 for psychosocial support services for people with mental illness who do not qualify for the NDIS. This funding is contingent on a matching commitment from the States and Territories.
  • $8.3 million over three years from 2017-18 to provide palliative care services for people who would prefer to be cared for in their homes rather than in a hospital or hospice setting. Funding will be provided through the Primary Health Care Networks

 

Families

  • funding to support preschool participation with 600 hours, or 15 hours per week, for Indigenous and disadvantaged children
  • maintaining the current Family Tax Benefit payment rates for two years at their current levels from 1 July 2017, and no increase to the maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit Part A
  • the establishment and operation of Family Advocacy and Support Services by Legal Aid Commissions. They will provide integrated duty lawyer and family violence support services at locations across Australia.
  • $3.4 million over two years from 2017-18 to expand the trial of Domestic Violence Units (DVUs) in legal centres around Australia. The DVUs assist women to access financial counselling, tenancy assistance, trauma counselling, emergency accommodation, family law services and employment services. The locations of the DVUs will be determined based on areas of need, in consultation with State and Territory Governments.
  • Women’s Safety Package — Technology Trials. This program will support a series of trials to test new technologies or innovative uses of existing technologies to improve the safety of women and children affected by family and domestic violence.
  • $12.7 million over four years from 2017-18 to establish Parenting Management Hearings (PMHs) — a new forum for resolving family law disputes between self-represented litigants. The PMHs will be a fast, informal, non-adversarial dispute resolution mechanism. PMHs will be given powers to make binding determinations on simple family law matters, which would otherwise require consideration by the family law courts. This measure also includes additional resourcing for legal aid associated with the PMHs.

 

Regional Development

  • The Regional Growth Fund (RGF) will invest $472 million in regional infrastructure projects and will ensure that all levels of government collaborate to create jobs and ensure communities have a say in how their regions are shaped. The RGF will include $272 million to provide grants of $10 million or more for major transformational projects which support long-term economic growth and create jobs in regions, including those undergoing structural adjustment.
  • $200 million will be provided to the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) to support the construction of community infrastructure and build the capacity of regional areas
  • The Stronger Communities Program will invest a further $28 million in small capital projects to deliver social benefits to local communities across Australia. This will make funding more accessible to small organisations with limited capacity to implement necessary upgrades to local infrastructure and facilities or purchase much needed equipment to support community activities