What the social sector will be looking for in the 2022 federal budget
28 March 2022 at 6:15 pm
We speak to sector leaders to find out what the for-purpose sector would like to see in the federal budget and where they think the priorities should lie.
With a federal election around the corner, all eyes will be on Tuesday’s federal budget which is expected to set the election narrative.
As the rising cost of living dominates the headlines, we can anticipate a large splash of cash. Already there has been a flurry of new spending announced over the past few days.
Addressing the media in the days before the budget, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the budget would be “responsible”.
“It will have practical measures. It will ease the cost of living pressures right now, as well as putting in place a long-term economic plan for the nation,” Frydenberg said.
Much of what we know so far has focused on a multibillion-dollar national infrastructure spend and a cost of living package that will offer relief “right across the Australian community”, with fuel excise cuts at the centre.
There have also been some announcements made connected to the social sector.
It was announced on Friday that the Royal Flying Doctor Service will get $1 billion over 10 years as part of a long-term partnership with the government, to deliver better health outcomes to Australians living beyond the reach of mainstream services.
Lifeline Australia will also get a multimillion-dollar funding boost, with an additional $52 million over four years being provided to help the crisis support service keep up with growing demand.
A record $58 million will be provided under the National Action Plan for Endometriosis to improve endometriosis diagnosis and primary care support.
There will also be a $250 one-off payment to Australians on welfare and income support to help with cost of living pressures.
But this last announcement has received a lukewarm response from the sector.
Both ACOSS and Anglicare Australia have raised concerns about one-off payments and instead called for ”real action on living costs”.
So what is the sector looking for from the budget?
Anglicare Australia’s acting executive director Maiy Azize said Australians want action on poverty and investment in communities.
Ahead of the budget, the organisation has called for job-creation programs; an increase to government payments above the poverty line; an investment in affordable and social housing and a fairer tax system.
“The fact is that one-off payments and tax cuts won’t help people out of poverty. That’s why three quarters of people polled by Anglicare Australia say they want action on jobs, wages and services over tax cuts,” Azize said.
“We know what we need to do to make Australia fairer – invest in housing for those in need, create secure jobs, and raise payments over the poverty line.”
ACOSS said the budget presented an opportunity for the Coalition government “to address long standing inequalities, achieve full employment and ensure no one is left behind” as we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
In its budget priority statement, ACOSS called for all income support payments to be lifted to at least $70 a day in line with the pension and pension supplement; the introduction of a flexible Jobs and Training Guarantee for people unemployed long-term; investment in energy efficiency improvements for 1.8 million low-income homes; the establishment of an Energy Transition Authority; and a 20,000 dwelling, $7 billion social housing package to be rolled out over the next three years.
Australia’s peak disability advocacy organisation is calling for budget measures that improve the health and safety of people with disability.
People with Disability Australia president Samantha Connor said they were focusing on four key things: money to improve emergency planning and support for people with disability; money to ensure a fully funded and sustainable National Disability Insurance Scheme; money to improve COVID safety for people with disability; and money for disability advocacy services.
“In uncertain times such as these, what we expect from our national government are measures that will protect us from danger and provide us with the equity, dignity and respect to which all Australians are entitled,” Connor said.
David Pearson, CEO of the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, said they were looking for a number of measures in this year’s budget.
These included: investment in growing the social housing sector; support for ending veterans homelessness; investment for local communities seeking to identify by-name the people experiencing homelessness in their communities; support from the Health Department for greater health equity, so that people experiencing homlessness can better access the health care they need; and support for the AIHW to measure the number of people who die, while experiencing homelessness in Australia.
Volunteering Australia is seeking recognition of the role volunteers play in emergencies.
In its pre-budget submission, it called for investment in a nationally coordinated approach to volunteer engagement in emergencies.
“An approach is needed that aligns individual state and territory disaster arrangements with national disaster arrangements. This would provide greater clarity to rapidly, safely, and effectively mobilise both volunteers and volunteer involving organisations in emergencies,” CEO Mark Pearce said.
In its recent election statement, Philanthropy Australia called on the Australian government (and Federal Opposition) to commit to a policy development process aimed at doubling philanthropic giving by 2030.
This process would include hosting working groups involving Treasury and sector experts to consider key reform proposals; a final White Paper setting a new strategic direction for philanthropy in Australia; and a suite of funded initiatives to double philanthropic giving by 2030.
As part of this Philanthropy Australia also called on the government to create a new Item 1 Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) category for community foundations that would free them up from red tape and allow them to accept funds from Private Ancillary Funds (PAFs).
Social Traders is looking for federal support for social procurement and for the government to lead a national approach to social enterprise development in Australia.
CEO Mike McKinstry said: “State and local governments are already supporting and investing in the social enterprise sector, but we are missing the leadership of the Commonwealth.”
Building on the recent $24.6 million investment by the Department of Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs into social enterprises supporting refugee employment, he called on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment to match this funding in support of the rest of the sector.
He said Social Traders would also like to see the Commonwealth elevate social enterprises within the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.
Impact Investing Australia has also expressed support for the introduction of an Australian government social procurement policy.
In a pre-budget submission letter, IIA chair Richard Brandweiner outlined seven recommendations they would like to see.
These included creating an Australian impact investing wholesaler; building upon the experience of the Social Enterprise Early Stage Foundation to develop a broader and multi-function SE growth fund ($40 million); the creation of a dedicated Office of Social Impact Investment within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; funding for an independent Impact Investment Institute with an initial commitment of $5 million over three years; and extending existing programs for SE capacity to further enable Indo-Pacific social enterprise development.
The UN Global Compact Network Australia has urged the Morrison government to prioritise “building back better” to ensure a resilient economy in line with the key principles of sustainability such as climate action, human rights and bribery and corruption prevention.
It said this year’s budget provided an opportunity for the government to prioritise economic growth in alignment with the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs).
It has issued a set of 10 recommendations including: setting ambitious intermediary climate targets to support the path to de-carbonisation; supporting a just transition with a national fossil-fuel exit plan; adopting a carbon tax; investing into large scale renewable energy infrastructure; funding to support the Customs Amendment (Banning Goods Produced By Uyghur Forced Labour) Bill 2020; reviewing the Modern Slavery Act; continuing to fund and give a greater voice to the Australian Human Rights Commission; adopting a National Charter of Human Rights; establishing the Commonwealth Integrity Commission; and reintroducing and passing the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Combating Corporate Crime) (CLACCC) Bill 2019.
To find out if Tuesday’s budget lives up to the expectation, visit Pro Bono News on Wednesday, where we will be breaking down what the budget means for the social sector.
We are also hosting a webinar on Thursday, where a panel of experts from the community and social welfare sectors will dissect the budget and its impact on the sector.