Budget a Mixed Bag for Not for Profit Sector
12 May 2010 at 10:58 am
The Federal Budget has failed to deliver on its social inclusion agenda, delivering a mixed bag for the Australian Not for Profit sector according to welfare organisations.
UnitingCare Australia’s National Director, Susan Helyar, says while the Government is rightly proud of Australia’s robust recovery from the Global Financial Crisis, Australia needs an equally robust approach to supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable people.
Helyar says this budget really hasn’t delivered on the things the Government was committed to, given their ambitious social policy reform agenda.
She says there needed to be an income support system that gives everyone a chance for a decent life, adequate income and the right kind of supports to get them back into work if that’s what they’re able to do. As well, funding must reflect the cost of services.
UnitingCare Australia provides services to over 2 million Australians each year from 1,300 sites across metropolitan, regional and remote communities. The network employs 35,000 people and is supported by the work of 24,000 volunteers.
Anglicare Sydney CEO Peter Kell, says the Treasurer’s zeal for a fiscally responsible budget has seen Australians living at the margins largely forgotten yet again and the Government’s social inclusion agenda, much vaunted in 2007-08, was conspicuously absent.
Kell says while additional funding for the training of aged care nursing staff is welcome, the funding gap that continues to make residential aged care unsustainable remains.
He says while the Government increased emergency relief funding last year, this continues to only address the symptoms of disadvantage without addressing the root causes.
Anglicare Sydney is the largest Christian Care organisation providing community-based disability services and one of the largest Not for Profit aged care service providers in Australia.
ACOSS says the budget has little for unemployed Australians who still must survive on $33 per day.
ACOSS has been advocating for the single Newstart payment to be lifted to $39 per day, or $276 per week.
ACOSS CEO Clare Martin says the $120 weekly gap between pensions and allowances has created disincentives for people on disability support payments to move into work.
She says if these payments were equalised, there would be less need for measures such as the push to restrict access to the disability support pension.
ACOSS says one recommendation from the Henry Tax Review that could have been implemented in this Budget was an increase to rent assistance. ACOSS has proposed an increase of $15 per week for those on the highest rate to protect low-income earners cope with rising rents.
The St Vincent de Paul Society agrees and has warned the Federal Government of the cost of continuing to neglect the incomes of unemployed people.
Vinnies Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon says you don’t build a strong economy on the back of a fractured society and this Budget fails to heal the fracture.
He says a fractured society will cost the economy dearly. The social costs, the health costs, the economic costs, are already apparent.
Carers Australia says that despite substantial increased spending on health in the Federal Budget, the government has again failed to address the reality of how care is provided in Australia and family carers remain unseen.
Carers Australia CEO Joan Hughes says the government has not addressed the vital role of unpaid family carers.
Hughes says her organisation is disappointed that the measures outlined in its budget submission were not addressed.
Hughes says this is a budget without a clear strategy for better supporting those who support the health system to the tune of $30.5 billion annually and it is sad to think that policy makers and decision makers still do not understand the reality of care in this country.
On the supported issues around the Budget, ACOSS has welcomed the Government’s forecasts for an earlier-than-expected return to surplus and unemployment declining faster than predicted.
Clare Martin says the resource rental tax has created an economically sensible way for the Government to fund services for the community, especially services for the most vulnerable Australians.
She says the $2.2 billion for more GPs and to improve primary healthcare is a significant investment that will assist Australians have better access to affordable healthcare.
ACOSS also applauds the Government’s commitment to literacy and the investment of $119 million for a literacy and numeracy skills program which it says will go some of the way to assist jobseekers into work or training.
The Brotherhood of St Laurence says the introduction of Standard Deductions for all Tax Returns has the potential to assist low income families who currently do not claim work-related expenses, or those will now be able to invest in their own training without incurring extra cost.
The Brotherhood encourages the Government to continue to reform the tax system with an eye to ensuring that it delivers increased workforce participation, economic efficiency and social inclusion.
The Aged Care Association of Australia says the initiatives to support the future aged care workforce to obtain higher qualifications and provide enhanced career paths is a very positive outcome which, if successful, will support the industry in attracting and retaining staff in the future.
ACAA CEO, Rod Young says the confirmation that the Commonwealth will proceed to full responsibility for the Home and Community Care program over the next two years is welcomed.
Young says aged care providers still do not know what their operating income will be for 2010/2011 financial year as the Government is yet to announce the approved funding index for the industry.
Details of the Federal Budget and the Treasurers Speech can be found at http://www.budget.gov.au/