In a few short weeks the Treasurer, the Hon. Jim Chalmers, will deliver the Albanese Government’s 2nd Federal Budget. Whilst their 1st Budget in October 2022 was, as they had widely publicised, focused on their election commitments, the Federal Budget in May this year will begin to show evidence of the priorities they will be setting moving forward.
There are a range of Frameworks and Policy priorities impacting on the Family & Relationship Services sector such as the Closing the Gap Policy agenda, the Safe and Supported Action Plans, the National Plan to end Violence against Women and Children (bit too early to see anything on the Early Years Strategy) and so on, it will be interesting to see how they will be given life in the upcoming Budget.
As reported in previous eBulletins, all programs within scope of the Family and Relationship Services (FRS) sector have now been extended until June 2026 – bringing all those programs into alignment. There was of course the delivery of additional funding to the community sector in the October Budget last year to assist with wage and inflationary pressures – which has provided some welcome relief from an FRS sector specific point of view. The broader issues around appropriate and adequate funding to meet the real costs of service delivery is a bit more of a slow burn body of work that is progressing within the Department of Social Services.
We all know that poverty and homelessness present significant risks to the wellbeing of children, young people, and adults. In the lead up to the Budget there are many reports being released (some of these outlined in this edition) highlighting the impact of increased cost of living pressures and how challenging it is for many people in Australia at the moment. We know too, through our members, that families are doing it tough in many places across Australia. These impacts in the current economic environment cannot be understated and should definitely not be ignored.
We are pleased to see the Government moving forward on reforms to the Family Law system intended to make the family law system safer and simpler for separating families to navigate and ensure the best interests of children are placed at the centre. The Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 was introduced to Parliament last week by the Attorney-General and should certainly be acknowledged as progressing change that has been on the backburner for too long. But given the nil cost noted against the Bill’s introduction, some of the practical requirements – such as more availability of Child Inclusive Practice in Family Dispute Resolution – will be something we will continue to pursue.
We are also only about 5 weeks out from the FRSA National Conference and are looking forward to showcasing the work of our sector and other Stakeholders through that program. We are delighted that the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Amanda Rishworth will be joining us in real time – through virtual link – on the Tuesday morning. You can check out our other keynote presenters below.
Registrations are still coming in strongly and will be open until midday on 8 May.
For the first time in a couple of years, school holidays and Easter coincide in the states and territories. I hope you enjoy having some downtime with your families and friends over the coming weeks.