For a sector that has secured funding in the forward estimates with five-year funding agreements (in the main) we have done pretty well in recent Budgets. Last year’s Budget was a standout given that the Federal Government increased baseline funding to DSS and AGD eligible, funded programs to meet the ERO Sacs Supplementation payment that will come to an end 30 June this year.
It was pleasing to see the Government secure these increases for the Homelessness sector in tonight’s Budget. I think they were on the verge of losing $60 million in funding, nationwide, if the Government didn’t increase the baseline funding to these organisations.
These are certainly significant gains for our sector and the social services sector more broadly, but maintenance of the status quo does not reflect the reality of increasing costs in service provision. This was also a theme brought out in the Centre for International Economics Report we had commissioned last year to support the campaign around ERO/SaCS funding. This issue looms large for the sector, as do the workforce shortages we know many of you face, and these matters will continue to be presented strongly in our conversations with Government moving forward. Having a strong, resilient and sustainable FRS sector is vital for the 580,000 odd children, women, men (and communities) this sector currently works with each year.
Demand and need for our services is also another area of work that FRSA has been investing time and energy. Not discounting the demand for FRS services more broadly, we are very pleased with the announcement in tonight’s Budget of the Government’s increased investment in Children’s Contact Services. Following conversations with the Attorney-General’s Department I can confirm that from 1 July 2021, total funding for the 64 existing services will increase from around $18 million to $35 million annually. Existing grant agreements with providers will be varied to provide a maximum of $550,000 GST exclusive per service. The intention is that all services will receive additional funds to increase capacity and reduce waiting times.
The Government has also announced it will fund a further 20 Children’s Contact Services (CCSs). An additional $27.5 million over three years from 2022-23 has been allocated in the Budget. For the 20 new services, a selection process will commence in 2021-22 to select providers. The measure is intended to increase access to CCSs and assist in reducing wait times. We have been advised that new services and existing services will be funded to the same level. In 2022-23, 6 months operational funding of $5.5 million will be provided to 20 new services with full base funding of $11 million annually to be provided from 1 July 2023-24. This is great news for the children and families needing to access these services.
The Government’s promised spending on initiatives in mental health and family violence, although really only addressing the tip of the iceberg, will inevitably be of benefit to many children and families struggling with these issues. They are coming through our services too and knowing that there will be additional support for them in these sectors is certainly welcomed.
Additional childcare, access to universal pre-school entry, support services for young parents and children – these are all really valid investments for Australia to be making if we are to support children to get a good start in life.
However, we also know that a good start in life, or indeed anyone’s outcomes in life, need to be underpinned by adequate means of living and a decent place to call home. For many people this goal is, and always will be, out of reach and tonight’s Budget does not go far enough to ensure that people are not living in poverty and/or have access to safe, suitable and affordable housing.
Please find below a summary of key initiatives to our sector under the headings:
- Cross Portfolio
- Prime Minister & Cabinet
- Social Services
- Other social services budget announcements that impact families
The Government will provide $123.8 million over four years to support the reform of the family law system and improve access and safety for children and families. Funding includes:
- $60.8 million over four years from 2021-22 (and $1.7 million per year ongoing) to reform family law case management processes to improve outcomes and better meet the needs of families by delivering a safe, child centred, accessible and efficient system.
- $29.0 million over four years from 2021-22 (and $8.5 million per year ongoing) to improve information sharing between the family law and the family violence and child protection systems, to achieve the best possible outcomes for children and families interacting with the family law system, including managing risk to family safety.
- $26.9 million over four years from 2021-22 (and $6.8 million per year ongoing) to improve access to legal assistance for family law matters in South Australia and to increase judicial and court resources in the South Australian family law registry.
- $6.3 million in 2021-22 to the Family Violence and Cross Examination of Parties Scheme to continue to protect victims of family violence in family law proceedings.
- $0.9 million over four years from 2021-22 to support the Family Law Council (and $0.2 million per year ongoing) to advise the Attorney-General on the operation of the Family Law Act 1975 and other matters relating to family law.
Funding provided to the Federal Court of Australia administrative entity under this measure will be directed to the family law courts, which will be merged on 1 September 2021 to become the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.
A Roadmap for Respect — Respect@Work response implementation
The Government will provide further funding over four years to implement its response to the Respect@Work Report. Funding includes:
- $9.3 million over four years from 2021-22 to support the implementation of the Government’s response to the Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report; including for the Respect@Work Council Secretariat.
- $6.0 million over four years from 2021-22 to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and the Australian Public Service Commission to strengthen reporting on sexual harassment prevalence, prevention and response.
- funding for additional legal assistance for specialist lawyers with workplace and discrimination law expertise.
Women’s Economic Security Package
The Government will provide $1.8 billion over five years from 2020-21 to improve women’s workforce participation and economic security. This includes (but is not limited to) initiatives such as:
- $1.7 billion over five years from 2020-21 (and $671.2 million per year ongoing) to assist families by reducing out of pocket costs and supporting parental choice through increasing the Child Care Subsidy rate by 30 percentage points for the second child and subsequent children aged five years and under in care, up to a maximum CCS rate of 95 per cent for these children, commencing on 11 July 2022; and removing the Child Care Subsidy annual cap of $10,560 per child per year commencing on 1 July 2022.
- $13.9 million over four years from 2021-22 to establish an EarlyStage Social Enterprise Foundation focused on providing capacity building and financial support for early stage social enterprises that improve the safety and economic security of Indigenous women.
- $10.7 million over two years from 2021-22 to extend the family law small claims property pilot and Legal Aid Commission family law property mediation trial for settlement of property of less than $500,000 following a relationship breakdown.
- $2.6 million over three years from 2021-22 to expand the Career Revive program to support more medium to large regional businesses attract and retain women returning to work after a career break.
The Government will provide $998.1 million over four years from 2021-22 (and $2.3 million in 2025-26) for initiatives to reduce, and support the victims of Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence (FDSV) against women and children. These proposals form the Government’s transitional strategy ahead of the development of the new National Plan to replace the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (2010-2022).
Funding of $507.3 million over four years from 2021-22 will be provided to implement and enhance a range of programs and initiatives that directly support women and children who have been subjected to FDSV. Funding includes:
- $261.4 million over two years from 2021-22 to establish a new National Partnership with the states and territories to expand the funding of frontline FDSV support services.
- $164.8 million over three years from 2021-22 for a two-year trial program to provide financial support of up to $5,000 to women fleeing a violent relationship
- $29.3 million over three years from 2021-22 to support refugee women and other migrant women’s safety and social economic inclusion.
- $26.0 million over four years to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and children who have experienced or are experiencing family violence.
- $25.9 million over four years for a range of further measures to support women affected by FDSV including expanding the Safe Places program, further supporting Temporary Visa holders experiencing FDSV and addressing technology-facilitated abuse of women and children.
Funding of $92.4 million will be provided over four years to support programs aimed at the prevention of FDSV, to support education on consent and respectful relationships and to improve training outcomes for those who may encounter FDSV. This includes:
- $24.4 million over two years to extend the Stop it at the Start prevention campaign.
- $23.2 million over two years to address online harm to Australians, and inform the community of support available as part of the Government’s online safety reforms.
- $10.7 million over four years for additional education resources for young Australians about respectful relationships.
- $34.1 million over four years from 2021-22 for a range of further measures aimed at the prevention of FDSV, including programs aimed at working with those at risk of committing FDSV, preventing and responding to FDSV against women with a disability and supporting better FDSV responses for diverse communities.
Funding of $320.1 million over four years will be provided to further support services that assist vulnerable women and children to engage with the legal system, increase access to Children’s Contact Services and support the development of improvements in the legal system in dealing with FDSV. This includes:
- $129.0 million over four years from 2021-22 for additional legal assistance funding for women’s legal centres under the National Legal Assistance Partnership.
- $101.4 million over four years from 2021-22 (with $29.5 million per year ongoing) to increase access to Children’s Contact Services, which help separated parents who would otherwise be unable to safely manage contact arrangements for their children, including through the establishment of an additional 20 Children’s Contact Services.
- $85.0 million over three years from 2022-23 to continue and enhance funding towards existing Family Advisory Support Services and to extend services to new locations to provide support for people affected by FDSV who have a family law issue.
- $4.7 million over two years from 2021-22 to support national discussions with the states and territories on a joint program of work to strengthen the justice response to sexual assault, sexual harassment and coercive control.
Funding of $80.6 million over five years will also be provided to improve data collection and to further enhance research capability into FDSV to better support the development of future policy responses including the development of the next National Plan to reduce Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence in Australia. This includes:
- $31.6 million over five years from 2021-22 for a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey on safety and violence.
- $30.0 million for Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety and the Australian Bureau of Statistics to continue collecting evidence and data on FDSV.
- $11.6 million over four years from 2021-22 for the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to expand its online services relating to FDSV.
- $7.4 million over four years from 2021-22 to enhance performance monitoring and establish an evaluation framework for the new National Plan.
The Government will provide an additional $148.0 million over five years from 2020- 21, and $4.2 million in 2025-26, for health care services for women. This includes funding for for cervical and breast cancer, endometriosis and reproductive health.
The Government will invest $17.7 billion in aged care over five years from 2020-21 in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Funding includes a range of measures such as improving access to quality aged acre services for people in regional, rural and remote areas, establishing an Aged Care Advisory Council, releasing an additional 80,000 home care packages over two years, and improving access to primary care and other health services in residential aged care.
COVID-19 Response Package
The Government has extended its guaranteeing Medicare and access to medicines package, which was a measure in the 2020-21Budget. As well as a temporary extension to Medicare Benefits Schedule pathology items for the testing and detection of COVID-19, and respiratory clinics to manage COVID-19 cases, the package includes:
- Extension of Telehealth services provision to end-2021. The service, which started on March 13 last year, was supposed to end on 30 June. To support this, the federal government allotted AU$114 million (approximately $88 million) more funds under the 2021-22 Budget to the programme.
- Further funding to continue the remote response to COVID-19 to support regional and remote Indigenous communities throughout Australia (total funding across 2020-21—2021-22, $11.2 million).
- Funding to extend the Beyond Blue COVID-19 Mental Wellbeing Support Service that provides support to Australians due to the pandemic (total funding across 2020-21—2021-22, $7.1 million).
The Government has also committed $845.3 million over two years from 2020-21 to support the Government’s emergency response to COVID-19, and $1.9 billion over five years from 2020-21 to distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents of Australia.
The Government will provide $2 billion over four years from 2021-22 for the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan, including initiatives to be progressed with states and territories for a new national agreement on mental health and suicide prevention. Funding includes:
- Almost $250 million will be spent on prevention and early intervention, including the creation of an online platform to provide professional counselling, support and referrals.
- Just under $300 million will be allocated to suicide prevention, including universal aftercare services, establishing the National Suicide Prevention Office and a national Distress Intervention Program trial and to develop national accreditation and standards for safe space services.
- $1.4 billion will go towards child, youth and adult mental health treatment centres.
- Vulnerable communities will receive $107 million in extra support, with money set aside to update a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention strategy.
- And $202 million will be spent boosting workforces and improving governance.
National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse
The Government will provide $146.0 million over four years from 2021-22 for initiatives to prevent child sexual abuse. These initiatives will contribute to the First Commonwealth Action Plan (2021-2025) under the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse 2021-2031 (the Strategy).
The measure will provide:
- $139.1 million over four years for initiatives to prevent, detect, and disrupt child sexual abuse and prosecute perpetrators.
- $2.3 million over four years from 2021-22 to expand the evidence base around the perpetration of child sexual abuse, including studies to identify methods to reduce opportunities for offending and increase detection of child sexual abuse.
- $4.6 million over four years from 2021-22 for the National Office for Child Safety to provide national leadership to enhance child safety and prevent child sexual abuse, including implementing the Strategy and Plan.
As announced earlier this year, the Government has committed $9 billion over four years to fund $50-a-fortnight JobSeeker increase. This permanent increase came into effect on 1 April 2021, following the end of the JobSeeker Coronavirus Supplement. As FRSA, along with other community and business representatives, has repeatedly argued, the permanent increase falls far short of what is needed to keep children and families out of poverty.
A National Early Childhood Program for Children with Disability or Developmental Concerns
The Government will provide $17.9 million over four years from 2021-22 to establish a new Early Childhood Program. The program will deliver a range of disability-specific information, workshops and supported playgroups for young children aged 0 to 8 years with disability or developmental needs. The cost of this measure will be partially met from existing funding within the Social Services portfolio.
National Redress Scheme — further support
The Government will provide funding to further support delivery of the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, including for initial and immediate actions in response to the recommendations of the Second Anniversary Review of the National Redress Scheme. Due to ongoing negotiations with the states and territories financial details of this measure have not been released.
National Housing and Homelessness Agreement — Social and Community Services Supplementation Funding
The Government has committed funding for the next two years to meet wage requirements under the 2011 Fair Work Australia Equal Remuneration Order. The Government will provide $124.7 million over two years from 2021-22 to states and territories under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement to assist them to bolster public housing stocks, or to meet wage requirements where that requirement has not already been met.
The Government will provide $782.1 million over four years from 2021-22 to increase home ownership, support jobs in the residential construction sector and enhance housing data. Funding includes (but is not limited to):
- Establishing the Family Home Guarantee with 10,000 places from 2021-22 to support single parents with dependants to enter, or re-enter, the housing market with a deposit of at least 2 per cent.
- $774.8 million over two years from 2021-22 for the HomeBuilder program to extend the construction commencement requirement from six months to 18 months for all existing applicants
Access to superannuation savings will also be expanded for first home buyers from $30,000 to $50,000.
Addressing Workforce Shortages in Key Areas — JobTrainer Fund — extension
The Government will provide $506.3 million over two years from 2021-22 to extend the JobTrainer Fund. This includes an additional $500.0 million in funding for the National Partnership Agreement on the JobTrainer Fund, to be matched by contributions from the states and territories, to deliver around 163,000 additional low fee and free training places in areas of skills need, including 33,800 additional training places to support aged care skills needs and 10,000 places for digital skills courses. Eligibility for the Fund will be expanded to include selected employed cohorts that are continuing to be affected by COVID-19. This measure also includes $6.3 million for a campaign to encourage take-up of training opportunities.
Getting Vulnerable Australians Back into Work — additional support for job seekers
The Government will provide $258.6 million over four years from 2020-21 to increase participation in the labour market and modify existing unemployment services to further increase support for job seekers. This includes:
- $213.5 million over four years from 2021-22 to expand the Local Jobs Program to 51 employment regions and to extend the program for three years from 30 June 2022 to 30 June 2025.
- $15.6 million in 2021-22 to increase all wage subsidies to $10,000 for eligible participants in jobactive, Transition to Work, and ParentsNext to incentivise employers to hire eligible disadvantaged job seekers. This will align with wage subsidies commencing under the New Employment Services Model measure from 1 July 2022.
- $7.9 million over three years from 2020-21 to incentivise employment services providers to ensure job seekers referred from Online Employment Services before 30 June 2022 are appropriately supported into employment as quickly as possible. Employment services providers providing support to job seekers who transition to face-to-face services after three months or more in Online Employment Services will be eligible for outcome payments immediately, rather than after three months under existing arrangements.
Guaranteeing Universal Access to Preschool
The Government will provide $1.6 billion over four years from 2021-22 (and $589.0 million per year ongoing) to make an ongoing Commonwealth funding contribution to preschool. The first four years of funding, covering the 2022 to 2025 preschool years, will be delivered through a new four year funding agreement to be negotiated with the states and territories to replace the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education. The new agreement will support continued universal access to at least 15 hours of preschool each week (600 hours per year) for children in the year before they start school.
Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements
The Government will provide $275.9 million over three years from 2021-22 to the states and territories under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. This includes funding in relation to the February and March 2021 floods in New South Wales, the bushfires in Western Australia in February 2021, the 2019-20 bushfires in New South wales and Tropical Cyclone Niran in Queensland in February and March 2021.
Infrastructure, roads and rail projects get $15.2bn over 10 years
The government has announced commitments of $15.2bn over 10 years for road, rail and community infrastructure projects, as part of its stimulus measures to support employment in the post-pandemic economy.
- ACTCOSS – Federal Budget: increased funding for essential services but little action on underlying inequality
- Anglicare Australia – The Government can lead – but it has to lead for all of us
- Australian Aged Care Collaboration – Federal Budget delivers historic aged care reform
- Australia Council of Trade Unions – Morrison Government chooses more insecure work, lower wages
- Carer’s Australia – Increased funding for respite and support services for carers welcomed
- Change the Record – First Nations organisations disappointed in 2021 Budget failure to #CloseTheGap
- Chief Executive Women – CEW welcomes Federal Budget measures to increase women’s workforce participation and economic security
- Consumers Health Forum of Australia – Budget’s modest response to aged care and mental health inquiries
- Council on the Ageing– Council on the Ageing welcomes biggest investment in aged care in a generation
- Australian Council of Social Service – Federal Budget lifts essential services but leaves too many people stranded
- Dementia Australia – Government’s $229m investment will transform dementia care for Australians
- Early Childhood Australia – A step in the right direction for early education
- Embrace Multicultural Mental Health Project – Embrace Project welcomes funding for multicultural mental health
- headspace – Federal Budget commits to expansion and enhancement of headspace services to support young people
- Homelessness Australia – Social housing ignored but Budget brings funding certainty to homelessness sector
- Mission Australia – Mission Australia’s response to Federal Budget 2021-22
- National Mental Health Commission – Mental health and wellbeing Budget 2021-22, “the foundation for a truly integrated national system.”
- National Shelter – Pumping up demand without adding to supply
- No to Violence – Budget continues national access to Men’s Referral Service for another 12 month
- Refugee Council of Australia – Govt chooses detention over hope for world’s refugees in budget
- Super Consumers Australia – Federal Budget “a step towards fairer super”
- UNICEF Australia – UNICEF Australia welcomes investment in the nation’s children
- United Workers Union – Budget fails women working in aged care, early childhood education and care
- UnitingCare Australia – UnitingCare Australia welcomes historic investment in aged care and key services