NFPs Share Federal Budget Wish List
9 February 2016 at 10:37 am
Major Not for Profits and peak bodies have called on the Federal Government to deliver secure housing, a fair health care system and income adequacy as a priority in this year’s budget.
Key policy areas have been outlined in the pre-budget submissions of the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association and the peak body for housing, National Shelter.
The NFPs said the major priority areas for the 2016 Federal Budget should include secure housing, strengthening universal health care through a financed commitment to a holistic “social determinants of health” approach, rather than cuts to Medicare and other services, and better targeting of existing health infrastructure, along with income adequacy with a focus on income support, job-creation and education for everyone.
St Vincent de Paul Society CEO Dr John Falzon said the 2016-17 budget was a chance for the Federal Government to “correct the country’s course after the extreme and unfair cuts of the previous two budgets”.
“The Prime Minister has said this is the most exciting time to be an Australian, and the budget is the key opportunity for this government to deliver policies that reduce poverty and inequality so that this claim can have some meaning for all, rather than the lucky few,” Dr Falzon said.
“Secure housing, an adequate income and affordable health care should be fundamental human rights, and not things people need to be staying awake at night worrying about.
“By including all Australians in the debate around how we raise sufficient revenue and how we distribute our national wealth, and committing to housing, health, and income adequacy, this budget has the potential to strengthen and unite us in our quest for a more fair and prosperous future.
“There are significant opportunities in this budget for the government to help build the kind of country we all want, one that values fairness, equality and respect for human rights.”
In its pre-budget submission the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) called on the government to take a long-term view to health funding and reform, and to better target and organise existing health infrastructure.
“The AHHA recognises the government’s commitment to fiscal repair, but it is important that short?term measures do not have long reaching adverse consequences for the health of Australians,” Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said.
“It is vital that health policy not be merely viewed through the prism of budgetary cycles. In the field of healthcare, imprudent savings made in the current budget cycle can manifest in poorer individual health outcomes and an increased burden on the healthcare system in the future.”
The AHHA’s submission recommended a number of key actions, including no further cuts to health expenditure until current review processes were completed.
“There are multiple review processes underway throughout the health sector and it is vital that any reforms that come out of these reviews are considered as part of a coordinated approach to the delivery of care across the primary, acute, aged and disability care sectors,” Verhoeven said.
“Primary health networks are well placed to drive system change and better integration, and to drive uptake and continued utilisation of new tools in eHealth. But they must have adequate funding to carry out their core functions and meet community needs.
“For hospitals, reform options must include sustainable funding – growth funding based on population and CPI increases to be implemented from 2017-18 is significantly short of requirements, as demonstrated in the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services.”
The submission from the national housing policy peak body, National Shelter, called for urgent action on affordable and liveable housing in the upcoming May budget.
National Shelter Executive Officer Adrian Pisarski said the government must ensure that all Australians are able to house themselves and their families.
“Lack of affordable rental supply is creating increasing inequity and disadvantage in Australia. Where Australian once had a owner occupier rate of 70 per cent it is now closer to 65 per cent, and declining,” Pisarski said.
“Our Rental Affordability Index, launched late last year, showed that some families were being forced to spend as much as 65 per cent of their income to secure rental housing, and far too many Australians are falling into homelessness.
“Part of any affordable housing strategy has to be meaningful tax reform. We were heartened to hear on the weekend that the Prime Minister is taking a broader view of potential tax reform, including those taxes that distort the housing market.”
The National Shelter pre-budget submission is available here