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2018 Budget Report

May 15, 2018

This year’s budget announcement once again contains a mixed bag for the region’s community services organisations and for its many vulnerable residents. We welcome Budget initiatives to support ageing in place and enable older people to live well in their own homes, such as the announcement of a further 14,000 new high level Home Care Packages over four years. Community Industry Group has been lobbying for an increase in Home Care Packages for some time, and while this is a step forward, we should not forget that there is currently an estimated shortfall of 104,000 packages across the country.

The commitment of $146m towards improving aged care in rural, regional and remote Australia is also welcome, as is the commitment to ensure more older Aboriginal people are able to receive culturally sensitive accommodation.

The investment in mental health services is also a positive outcome, but once again fails to fulfil all the needs of this sector. The recognition of the mental health needs of older people in residential aged care has resulted in an $83m investment in psychosocial services in residential aged care, and the budget includes the announcement of a pilot program to support socially isolated older Australians to connect to their communities.

Sadly, some of the most urgently needed budget measures were once again ignored. There was nothing in this budget to address homelessness or increase the supply of affordable housing and no mention of the much-needed increases to Newstart and Youthstart. The reality is that keeping people living under the poverty line is not conducive to employment outcomes. It is difficult to look for work while you are concentrating on day to day survival.

One good and spontaneous response to the budget has been the rise of the ‘KeepMy10Dollars’ hashtag on Twitter which shows the resounding support ordinary people have for an increase to income support for people who are unemployed. It is heartening to see that Australian people on middle incomes would rather forgo their meagre tax break in order to ensure a better life for people who are currently subsisting on these welfare payments.

You can read the 2018-19 Budget here.

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