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Federal budget preview

19 October 2022 at 4:55 pm
Danielle Kutchel
What matters most to the social sector ahead of the release of the Albanese government’s first federal budget?

Federal budget preview
19 October 2022 at 4:55 pm

What matters most to the social sector ahead of the release of the Albanese government’s first federal budget?

Prime minister Anthony Albanese flagged his government’s first budget will be a “nuts and bolts” affair, but this hasn’t stopped the social sector from strongly advocating for a raft of key issues, including the rising costs of living, affordable housing crisis and the acute impact of climate change.

Pro Bono News brings you a round-up of the federal budget asks from across the for-purpose sector, before the budget is handed down on Tuesday next week.


As the rising cost of living hits community services, ACOSS is calling on the government to index the Commonwealth funding provided to these organisations.

ACOSS is joining forces with the Australian Services Union to write to the government, urging it to include a 5.5 per cent rate of indexation for Commonwealth-funded community services in next week’s budget.

The organisations say the lack of indexation over the past decade meant community services hadn’t received extra funding and were now struggling to keep up with demand and pay workers appropriately due to increases to the minimum wage.

ACOSS deputy CEO Edwina MacDonald says delivering fair indexation would help community services stay open this year and prevent cuts to service delivery and staff.


Anglicare Australia has undertaken analysis that suggests the government could raise JobSeeker and other payments over the poverty line, and tackle the shortage of social homes, for less than the cost of the upcoming tax cuts.

By raising the JobSeeker payment, parenting payment and carer payment to $88 per day, almost 2.3 million Australians could be pulled out of poverty, including 840,000 children. In addition, the government could also build 36,000 social homes each year, which would end the shortfall and provide affordable homes to hundreds of thousands of Australians.

The analysis was prepared by Anglicare Australia by comparing major costs of addressing poverty with income foregone from the upcoming stage three tax cuts. It found that these measures would cost $208 billion over ten years, less than the $243 billion cost of the tax cuts.


While not exclusively releasing a budget statement, the Antipoverty Centre is actively campaigning for three critical government actions to improve the welfare system for all Australians.

It is asking for the immediate increase of Centrelink payments to at least the Henderson poverty line of $88 per day. It is also requesting the government work with people on low incomes to develop a more sophisticated and modern measure of poverty and recommending that everyone who needs income support is able to access it, regardless of visa status, family situation or occupation.

Secondly, the Antipoverty Centre is recommending the abolishment of compulsory mutual obligations including Work for the Dole, and for the government to partner with unemployed individuals to develop meaningful employment pathways and support delivered by the public sector. 

Lastly, it is advocating to end the practice of pursuing people on welfare over debts that have resulted from administrative errors, as well as ending partner income tests and cashless welfare such as the BasicsCard program.


ASRC is seeking government action in four main areas in this budget. 

ASRC notes that the Labor party had committed to providing “access to funded migration assistance, and to appropriate social services, including income, crisis housing, healthcare, mental health, community, education and English as a Second Language support during the assessment of the claim for protection” to people seeking asylum. ASRC is advocating for this support to be provided through mainstream social support services like JobKeeper but accepts this is unlikely to happen in this budget. It is instead watching what the government does with the ‘transitional allowance’ given to people seeking asylum through Status Resolution Support Services. ASRC is also calling for urgent refunding and expanded eligibility for SRSS unding.

On the issue of detention for asylum seekers, ASRC notes that the continuation of offshore processing and indefinite detention will increase government spending. According to ASRC, the cumulative spending on onshore and offshore detention between 2015-2023 is over $18 billion. The previous budget also slated $1.28 billion in spending in 2022-23 for onshore immigration detention. ASRC also hopes that the establishment of an Independent Health Advice Panel to provide medical advice and maintain ministerial discretion around transferring people from offshore will be costed in next week’s budget.

On the issue of Australia’s humanitarian intake, ASRC is hoping to see Labor’s commitment to 27,000 places per year reflected in the budget, an increase on numbers seen under the previous federal government.

ASRC is also calling for the government to stick to its commitment to abolish the fast-track system, Temporary Protection Visas and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas.


The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) is recommending seven key funding areas across energy transition and conservation, as well as four major areas for cost cutting opportunities in this year’s budget. 

Amongst an extensive range of funding recommendations, ACF is advocating for the government to invest $2 billion annually over three years toward a national conservation and land management program, as well as $80 million over five years to re-fund the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) to help Australian communities prepare for and adapt to increasing climate impacts.

It is also asking the government to commit $10 billion as co-investment in new industries using grants, debt, equity or carbon contracts for difference (CCfDs) to directly support flagship projects that will accelerate the scale-up of Australia’s clean export industries.

As for cost cutting opportunities, ACF is advocating for a cap on the Fuel Tax Credits Scheme, followed by a phase down; halting the nuclear submarine dimension of AUKUS; a review of uncommitted coal, oil and gas projects; and stopping the advancement of the inherited Kimba radioactive waste plan.


To deliver on the government’s strategy to deepen regional relationships and revitalise Australia’s approach to international development, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) is recommending three key budget measures. 

Firstly, ACFID is advocating for the creation of new, additional ODA totalling $150 million for immediate famine relief, and a further $200 million annually over three years for the development of a Global Food Strategy that supports worldwide efforts to address the root causes of food insecurity.

From within pre-election commitments, it is recommending $705 million over four years to be dedicated to initiatives focused on climate resilience and gender equality. ACFID would also like to see $1 million in departmental funds be allocated to support the delivery of a new robust and transformative International Development Strategy.


As Australian families face a cost of living crisis, the Australian Parents for Climate action is seeking greater government investment and support in the form of rebates to make energy efficient solutions, including rooftop solar, household batteries and electric vehicles, more accessible and affordable. 

It is recommending a rapid rollout of these clean energy technologies, as well as the removal of gas from the home, with an emphasis on ensuring renters and low-income earners are included in the benefit.


Ahead of the budget, the Climate Council is recommending five clean energy solutions. 

With the same $11.6 billion given in subsidies for the use of fossil fuels across the 2021/2022 financial year, the Climate Council has calculated that the government could provide Australians with one EV charging station for every 12 kilometres of Australia’s entire road network; solar panels for 1.5 million low income homes or on every public housing property in Australia, three times over; 15 pumped hydro facilities; 138 city-powering batteries; and the replacement of Sydney’s, Melbourne’s and Brisbane’s public bus fleet with electric buses, with an additional 2,300 buses to spare.


CCA’s position on the upcoming budget has not changed from the previous budget. Based on discussions with stakeholders and CCA members, it has created a list of priorities for the Treasurer, including extending DGR status to all registered charities with initial exemptions for childcare, primary and secondary education and religious organisations; creating incentives to encourage giving in Australia, such as Living Legacy Trusts, opt-out workplace giving provisions, and charitable investment options in superannuation; fixing fundraising; increasing certainty in government funding, concessions, incentives and regulations to boost sector productivity; developing a Charities Transformation Fund to support sector capacity development and provided reduced-interest loans or other credit options to charities; supporting a one-stop-shop registration process to cut red tape for volunteer registration and insurance; introducing targeted ‘estate duty’ for people with estates valued at over $10 milion with incentives to donate to charities, safeguards for family businesses and farms and mitigation of potential adverse impacts; and reviewing tax concessions for mutual organisations operating in gaming, catering, entertainment and hospitality.


Broadly, CPA Australia is calling for more support for not for profits and charities and for a streamlining of regulations of the sector, which it says would contribute to the sustainability and success of not for profits in Australia. The organisation is urging the government to provide that funding through grants, tax concessions and other funding arrangements. 

In addition, CPA Australia is calling on the government to continue fundraising regulatory reform through the Council on Federal Financial Relations. The organisation also wants to see the development of a simplified and proportionate financial reporting framework that smaller not for profits could adopt to meet their accountability obligations, and financial support provided to smaller not for profits to help them build their capacity to invest in new technology when needed. The provision of financial incentives to access tailored advice from a professional advisor of their choice is also on the wishlist.


With Australia in the grip of a major housing crisis, Everybody’s Home is urging the Commonwealth to address market failure and deliver affordable homes urgently needed by the Australian community.

Specifically, Everybody’s Home is recommending the government finance, construct and deliver a net growth of 25,000 social and affordable homes per year, to develop a pipeline that will address current waiting lists and projected demand. It is also advocating for immediate investment over four years in a minimum of 8,500 new co-designed, culturally appropriate homes to address the severe overcrowding and disadvantage being experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Additionally, it is recommending increasing the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance by at least 50 per cent, and ensuring the payment is appropriately targeted and adequately indexed. This will help make housing more affordable for those people on low and moderate incomes who will need to live in the private rental market.


Fair Agenda is calling for the federal government to commit to deliver at least $1 billion of annual federal funding for the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children within this term of government.

In a statement, Fair Agenda’s executive director Renee Carr said “every pillar” of the plan was under-resourced.

“It’s fantastic to hear the Albanese Government’s commitment to making changes now so the next generations can live free from violence. Experts say that at least $1 billion of annual federal funding is needed for the Plan, to realise that goal. But right now, that funding isn’t there,” Carr said.

“We’re hearing a lot about a tough budget environment – but right now the Government is standing by the Morrison Government’s $243 billion of tax cuts for the rich. Imagine what difference we could make for women’s safety – and so many other equality initiatives if that funding was invested in public services?”

Fair Agenda said immediate investment is also needed:

  • To increase intervention with men at risk of using or continuing violence, to address the behaviour of those choosing to cause harm to women, and address waiting list times for men’s behaviour change programs
  • For intervening earlier with those using and affected by violence, to ensure more people are able to identify harmful behaviours and interrupt abuse earlier; and that children affected by domestic and family violence are provided with trauma recovery support, and are supported to choose respectful approaches to relationships.
  • For investing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community controlled organisations leading critical work to prevent violence and support safety outcomes for First Nations women affected by men’s violence,
  • For investment in trauma-response for rape survivors, so they can access counselling support, and address the unacceptable wait lists faced by women calling 1800 RESPECT for support,
  • For investment in specialist case management services, so women trying to build safer futures can access the specialist support they need to be safe from a partner’s harmful behaviour
  • For scaling of successful pilot initiatives across settings like courts, and hospitals.


Following the release of its Hunger Report 2022 that revealed that more than 2 million households in Australia ran out of food in the last year, Foodbank is calling on the federal government to urgently provide relief in its upcoming budget.

“We have heard the treasurer caution that the October budget is not the time for new spending measures to deliver relief to struggling families, but with more than a million people a month already seeking food relief, if not now, then when?” said Foodbank CEO Brianna Casey. 

Foodbank attributes the alarming statistics to cost-of-living pressure, with the cost of food and groceries confirmed as the top cause followed closely by energy and housing costs.

“We know how important it is for people to have access to nutritious food, yet the rising costs of energy, fuel, groceries, rent and mortgages have put this fundamental need beyond the reach of more and more people with no respite in sight,” said Casey.


CEO Hayley Foster, writing for Pro Bono News, welcomed the release of the federal government’s National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children. However, she noted that the plan did not include measurable targets or a commitment to funding.

Full Stop Australia is calling for the Commonwealth and each state and territory government to commit to specific, measurable targets in their first five-year action plans under the National Plan. 

“Targets are essential if we want to hold governments and other actors to account on their performance on reducing gender violence,” she wrote.

Foster also urged the government to provide the full funding needed to resource and execute the National Plan.

Danielle Kutchel  |  @ProBonoNews

Danielle is a journalist specialising in disability and CALD issues, and social justice reporting. Reach her on or on Twitter @D_Kutchel.

Ruby Kraner-Tucci  |  @ProBonoNews

Ruby Kraner-Tucci is a journalist, with a special interest in culture, community and social affairs. Reach her at


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