Since the Albanese Government come into power it has consistently stated that this October Budget would be about fulfilling election commitments, and with the exception of a few measures, this has been delivered tonight.
We also get a flavour of the vision that the ALP has for the future with some significant commitments made to housing (thank goodness!), infrastructure, paid parental leave, child care rebates, women’s safety – this is promising but regrettably it does not deliver much in the way of financial support and relief for so many children, families and communities doing it tough.
I know that Members are seeing more and more people in their services experiencing increasing financial stress. This is only adding to the already significant complexity in their lives and for many children, women and men the promise of future plans and visions does little to meet their current needs. On this occasion, their voice has not been heard or captured in the priorities delivered in this Budget – not abolishing the next stage of tax cuts being a case in point.
I am hoping that members travelling to Canberra for the Strategic Leadership Forum being held 23-24 November will come prepared to share the experiences of their clients with the politicians they will be meeting with. No sooner the ink dries on this Budget than the Government continues with preparations for a May Budget next year. It is our role to amplify the voices of those who are struggling.
In my meetings with the various Ministers and their advisers on the inadequacy of funding for the FRS sector – which is further impacted by the Fair Work Commission’s decision to increase the SCHADS award, as well as increased inflationary pressures – the response has been non-committal. I have been consistently advised that they would be needing to do something – which they have – but exactly how much of a funding lifeline is provided to funded service providers, in particular in the FRS sector, is not especially clear. Our Departmental contacts have tried to help us get to the bottom of it tonight – but they too don’t have the level of detail required. You will find more information about what we know to date below under the Cross Portfolio section. We have follow- up meetings with DSS and AGD in the next day or two and will hopefully be in a position to bring you further information as it comes to hand.
As you read this briefing, I do remind you that it is not intended to repeat what you are already reading in the newspapers or hearing on the news. At FRSA, we aim to provide a briefing that draws from key Budget papers and Portfolio Budget Statements to bring you up to speed with those issues that have the most impact and/or relevance to the Family and Relationship Services sector.
Before I go, I would encourage you to have a read through the ALP’s Statement 4 in Budget Paper No 1 – ‘Measuring what Matters’. This Statement begins to put shape around the Treasurer’s clear commitment to move beyond traditional and predominantly financial measures to assess community living standards. His wish is to incorporate social and/or environmental outcomes as part of a Framework relevant to the Australian context to ‘Measure what matters.’ It is ambitious but the concept of a more holistic framework that takes into account individual and community wellbeing as well as economic prosperity is worth engaging with.
If you do have any questions about the Budget – arising out of this briefing or any other conversations you are having – please do not hesitate to be in touch.