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Affordable Housing among the missing in the ‘cost of living budget’

June 26, 2018

Community Industry Group were eagerly awaiting the release of the so-called ‘cost of living’ budget on 19 June 2018.  However, despite a few bright moments, the budget largely holds little for community service organisations, or for people living on low incomes.

Access to safe, accessible and affordable housing is the number one issue affecting families on low incomes and vulnerable people in South East NSW but there is little in the budget to address the issue. While we once again welcome the extension of the Social and Affordable Housing Fund in the 2018/19 budget, the reality is that many people on welfare or on minimum wage are trying to navigate the private rental market. We need incentives to encourage more affordable private rental properties as well as an urgent investment in more social housing.

It’s great that the 2018/19 budget holds a further $61.3 million for the whole of government homelessness strategy, but we would argue it is much better to implement measures to stop people becoming homeless in the first place. The trauma and stress associated with becoming homeless can have devastating impacts on individuals and families. What NSW needs is safe, secure, long-term housing solutions with adequate support services to keep people from falling into homelessness.

Community Industry Group are pleased to see the investment in early childhood education in the budget, and the commitment to pre-school opportunities for children as young as three. There is much evidence to suggest that good quality early childhood education can have significant impacts in improving the prospects of disadvantaged children. This extends beyond the educational advantages, because attending pre-school can also improve connectivity to other services and to community and this could have major outcomes for areas like the Shoalhaven, where almost 1 in 5 children live below the poverty line. However, education is not the only driver of positive change. We need more investment in early intervention programs to support families and communities. Investing in early intervention programs including capacity building and community development programs could prevent families slipping into crisis, and reduce disadvantage – as well as reducing the number of children and young people entering the child protection and Out of Home Care system.

Finally, while Community Industry Group welcomes the commitment to road infrastructure in the region, we once again highlight the need for greater investment in an effective and efficient public transport system for the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and South East NSW.  Affordable and accessible transport is, without doubt, one of the main barriers to employment and training in the region. The investment in TAFE NSW, and in promoting apprenticeships by waiving fees, could offer major opportunities for our many unemployed young people but we need public transport to enable them to take advantage of these opportunities.

Read the NSW Budget papers here.

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