The Federal Government is pitching its pre-election Budget as a solution to cost of living pressures. However, preliminary responses from First Nations, disability, aged care and other advocates are generally critical.
Below, we compile reaction from: People with Disability Australia; the Australian Aged Care Collaboration; the Change the Record coalition; community health services provider cohealth; the Australian Medical Association; the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation; the Rural Doctors Association of Australia; Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association; the Australian Academy of Science; the Refugee Council of Australia.
Budget fails to deliver for First Nations peoples
Statement by First Nations coalition Change the Record
Change the Record has condemned the Morrison Government’s pre-election Budget as failing to meet community needs or expectations. The First Nations-led Coalition was looking for investment in key social security supports, housing and family violence prevention services to meet critical justice and family violence Closing the Gap targets. Instead, it claims, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have once again been left behind.
Cheryl Axleby, Co-Chair Change the Record:
“It is only March and already five of our people have died behind bars. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the dangers of the overcrowded and substandard housing that too many of our people are forced to live in, and appallingly low social security payments drive our people into poverty. If a Budget is a reflection of a government’s priorities then this Government is sending a clear message that it does not care about FIrst Nations peoples.”
Antoinette Braybrook, Co-Chair Change the Record and Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum:
“The calls for urgent, meaningful action to address family violence have been deafening – but again the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have been silenced in this Budget. For years, we have been calling for adequate funding so our services don’t have to turn women away, but again this Budget has not delivered. Our peak body was defunded under this government, and again not a single cent has been allocated to ensure we can continue to advocate for First Nations women and children on the national stage.”
Priscilla Atkins, Chair, NATSILS:
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services are suffering from a demand we cannot meet due to severe under-resourcing, understaffing and the flow-on effects from lack of pay parity across the sector. Given the crisis of Black deaths in custody and rates of over-incarceration of our mob, it is more important than ever to deliver more funding and job-creation for ATSILS across Australia, yet once again the Budget lets our people down. Adequate funding for ATSILS means that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access culturally safe legal support when and where they need it, which supports our communities and reduces the over-incarceration of our people.”
Damian Griffis, First Peoples Disability Network:
“FPDN welcomes the commitment from the government to building a stronger First Peoples disability network through the Disability sector strengthening strategy and FPDNs National Disability Footprint.
To continue this work, we encourage the the government to invest in the co-design of a First Peoples Disability plan that bridges the gap between Australia’s Disability Strategy and Closing the Gap, whilst ensuring the our communities are appropriately supported and resourced to respond to COVID-19, which is hitting us hardest right now.”
Maggie Munn, Amnesty International Australia:
“If the government is serious about reaching Closing the Gap targets they’d show leadership on raising the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14.
“The overrepresentation of First Nations People in prisons and in custody is a result of successive governments’ failures to appropriately fund housing, justice, health and support services that work with mob to ensure we are safe, supported and can thrive. Governments must stop putting First Nations People at the end of their to-do lists.
“If the Federal Government committed to a National Justice Reinvestment Body, it would be a meaningful step in addressing overrepresentation of First Nations people in jail and give our kids a chance to live happy and healthy lives free of the criminal justice system.”
Paul Wright, Executive Director ANTaR:
“The Coalition has had 9 years, nearly a decade, to address the rates of incarceration, the deaths in custody and the injustice of the system that discriminates against First Nations Peoples. Another decade of failure is unacceptable, it is time to start investing in the solutions that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and their communities have been calling for – because clearly their governments can’t get it done.”
Federal Budget neglects people most in need
Statement by cohealth
One of Australia’s largest community health services, cohealth, says the Federal Budget doesn’t go far enough to improve the lives, and health, of Australians who have the least.
Chief Executive, Nicole Bartholomeusz says that cohealth has been at the forefront of Australia’s COVID response and has seen the impact that the pandemic has had – and continues to have – on communities.
“Many of the people we’re working with are in insecure employment, living week-to-week. We saw a recognition of the financial impact of ill health during the pandemic with payments available to help people isolate. Now we are back to seeing people forced to choose between buying medication and health care, paying the rent or putting food on the table,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.
“A one-off cash bonus acknowledges the skyrocketing costs of living for those on lowest incomes. Such support must be maintained to ensure our fellow Australians don’t need to resort to skipping meals and postponing medical treatment,” she said.
Ms Bartholomeusz expressed disappointment that the Budget failed to address the upstream drivers of health, with no change to Centrelink payments, no investment in social housing, and no measures to address the problem of insecure and low-paid employment.
Ms Bartholomeusz said that the Federal Government had missed the opportunity for major investment and reform in areas of responsibility including aged care and primary care.
“It’s time for our national leaders to acknowledge that the current fee-for-service medicine model doesn’t support the integrated, comprehensive care required to support health and wellbeing,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.
“As we move towards a federal election, we will continue to amplify the voice of our 30,000 clients to make sure that they can achieve their best health. We must focus on community repair, not just budget repair.”
‘Short-Changing’ people with disability
Statement by People with Disability Australia
Australia’s peak disability rights and advocacy organisation has criticised the Federal Government for not providing better support for people with disability in the 2022 Budget.
People With Disability Australia (PWDA) says the Federal Government has ignored key budget requests that PWDA and other key disability organisations have been advocating for over the last few months.
PWDA President Samantha Connor: “We’re very disappointed with the outcome of the 2022 Federal Budget for people with disability.
“This budget is a lean, mean budget for people with disability, their families and carers.”
“The 2022 Budget provided a valuable opportunity for the Federal Government to give people with disability more support and protection during emergencies like floods and bushfires, more protection from COVID, better support via the NDIS and violence prevention services and increased support for disability advocacy services.”
“The additional funding we were seeking in relation to these issues would have significantly improved the health and safety of people with disability across Australia. However, the government has clearly decided to short-change people with disability once again with no new funding commitments of any significance.”
“People with disability have been treated poorly by this government over the last three years. They actively deprioritised us for protection during the worst of the COVID pandemic. They tried to kneecap our NDIS packages with independent assessments and are continuing with their plan to hollow out the NDIS by massively increasing adverse decisions against participants and clawing back payments. And they continue to support industry models for disability support services which often deliver segregation, violence and abuse to many people in our community.”
“There is an urgent need for increased advocacy funding given the difficult circumstances people with disability face, so people with disability have the certainty to get the help they need. People with disability are facing vast uncertainty in the wake of floods and fires and remain in situations where we are unable to work or go to school because of COVID, as the evidence heard in the Disability Royal Commission has proven.”
“The 2022 Budget provided a platform for the government to try and regain support from people with disability in the lead-up to the upcoming election. But what this budget shows is the government is once again deprioritising people with disability at a time when our need to be protected, supported and valued has never been greater.
“While it is pleasing to see that there is a small economic support payment for eligible recipients, this in no way goes far enough to ensure that people with disability are not worse off. We face the same cost of living pressures but has been additional cost of living pressures since the COVID pandemic started, including in recognition of the increased need for PPE, rapid antigen tests and other disability-related supports.”
“One in five Australians lives with disability and that’s a very significant proportion of voters. Ahead of the upcoming election campaign, this is a budget that puts people with disability in the far queue.”
Temporary fixes, not permanent solutions
Statement by Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie
This budget ignores the big challenges that this country faces right now, which are poverty, inequality and climate change. It doesn’t deliver a budget people can rely on.
This budget is full of temporary fixes, when we need permanent solutions.
Much of the assistance goes to people who don’t need it, and too little goes to people who need support.
One of the biggest spends in this budget is more tax cuts, such as the cuts to the fuel excise and the tax offset. Almost $3 billion goes to reducing the fuel excise, which offers little help at the bowser and would have been much better spent lifting income support and boosting social and affordable housing. The $450 one-off tax offset is overshadowed by the $16 billion annual tax cuts baked into the budget, most of which go to men on the highest incomes.
The budget does nothing to lift the incomes of people with the least. Whilst we welcome the extension of $250 bonus payment to people on pensions and allowances, when if you’re living on $46 a day, this payment will help for a week or two, but people have to pay the rent 52 weeks a year.
This is not a slash and burn budget, and we’re relieved that there are no big cuts that would hurt people with the least and the essential services they rely on.
Unfortunately, although the government says this is a cost-of-living budget, it fails to deal with the biggest cost of living, which is housing. Perversely, its housing measures will very likely push up house prices and make housing affordability worse.
This budget fails to deliver the investment in social housing needed to put a roof over the heads of people on low incomes.
Despite the ongoing natural disasters we are witnessing, nothing in this budget delivers sufficient income support to people facing the devastation of disasters. The Disaster Payment remains at $1,000 for adults, when it should be permanently tripled. Likewise, there is nothing to deliver energy efficiency technologies for people on low incomes.
The budget ends the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment in June, which will hurt lowest-paid workers without access to sick leave. And while all workers, regardless of income, will get a tax deduction for their Rapid Antigen Tests, the free Rapid Antigen Tests for concession card holders will end, despite them being in greatest need of support.
We welcome the reduction in the safety net threshold for the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme, which will help pensioners and others on income support afford essential medicines.
We’re pleased that single parents will be able to access 20 weeks of Paid Parental Leave. This is long overdue, and there is no extension otherwise to the number of weeks or an increase to the payment.
We welcome the continuation of the $5,000 support packages for women to escape an abusive partner but we need to see significantly more investment to keep women safe.
We were hoping that in this budget we’d see the major investment in care services that’s desperately needed, including funding to lift the pay of care workers, most of whom are women.
The country needed a budget that delivered solutions for the long term to reduce poverty and inequality and address climate change. We didn’t see that tonight.
Fails aged care workers
Statement by the Australian Aged Care Collaboration
There is nothing in this budget to improve aged care wages. It will leave our dedicated workers on the edge of poverty and many older Australians without the services they need.
The budget confirms the inadequacy of the government’s previous response to the Royal Commission. There is so much more work to be done.
The Royal Commission’s workforce recommendations are the key area of unfinished business and the government has left it that way.
There are some modest new initiatives that we will evaluate and analyse in the coming days.
Since the start of the pandemic, aged care workers have gone above and beyond. They should be getting the pay they deserve and career certainty. The Royal Commission recognised this. It’s well overtime for the government to fix this once and for all.
About the Australian Aged Care Collaboration
The AACC is a group of six aged care peak bodies: Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and UnitingCare Australia. Together, the AACC represents more than 1,000 organisations who deliver 70 per cent of aged care services to 1.3 million Australians, either in their own homes or in communal residential settings.
“Business as usual”
Statement by Australian Medical Association
The claims of record spending on health in tonight’s Federal Budget mask a failure to tackle stress in the health system, though continued spending on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is welcomed says the AMA.
With tonight’s Budget announcements promoting a $7.3 billion increase in Medicare funding and a $9.8 billion increase in hospital funding, the AMA said the amounts did not represent expanded health funding.
“The Medicare and hospital funding in tonight’s Budget amounts to little more than usual recurrent spending and planned growth, not the new injection of funds our health system desperately needs,” AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.
“Pleased as we are to see tonight’s Budget finally acknowledge the Ten-Year Plan for Primary Care, we can see no plan for how its implementation will be funded.
“This Budget was the last chance for the Government to show it is serious about primary care reform by delivering the extra funding needed to improve patient access to high quality General Practice.
“While the Health portfolio has been spared funding cuts, the Government’s focus on cost of living has overlooked quality of life, particularly for the thousands of Australians languishing on hospital waiting lists,” Dr Khorshid said.
The AMA launched the “Clear the hospital logjam” campaign to show the cycle of crisis gripping our public hospitals. The budget fails to acknowledge this crisis and will do nothing to address ambulance ramping or elective surgical waiting lists.
Dr Khorshid said: “The Budget re-states the Commonwealth will only meet 45% of usual hospital costs, and that the 6.5% cap on hospital funding growth will remain.”
“Yet hospital Emergency Departments are full, ambulances are ramping, and the AMA estimates the waiting list for essential (elective) surgery has blown out by a further 190,000 surgeries with COVID-19 elective surgery pauses, on top of the existing wait lists.
“The next Government will need to act. The major parties are on notice we will be pushing this case all the way to polling day because Australians are clearly saying they want a focus on healthcare, and they expect a health system which is able to meet their family and community’s needs,” Dr Khorshid said.
Scott Morrison fails to do his job
Statement by Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
The lack of sustainable funding and real reform for health and aged care shows that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has failed to ‘do his job’ to restore and rebuild Australia’s public health system and the private aged care sector, according to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).
While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a ‘once-in-a-century’ global health emergency, it has exposed many of the long-standing issues that prevent safe, quality care for all Australians. In our wealthy, well-resourced nation, every one of us should expect and receive optimal care and to achieve this, genuine reform of health and private aged care is urgently needed.
Despite modest funding for some preventative health initiatives and increased paid parental leave (PPL) provisions, the Budget has failed to deliver much-needed and genuine long-term reforms in health and private aged care.
Exhausted nurses, midwives and aged care workers, beyond the point of burn out, simply cannot continue without the resources they desperately need to do their job and keep the community safe and well. The Government has once again failed to do its job, compromising the health of all Australians.
Despite chronic staffing shortages, the devastation of COVID and the disgraceful lack of respect for older Australians, Mr Morrison’s Budget shows that playing politics, not fixing aged care, is his Government’s top priority. One year into the Government’s five-year ‘reform program’, the reality is, nothing has improved, in fact the situation has only become worse.
ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said tonight: “Yet again, Mr Morrison has failed to do his job. We’re disappointed that the Budget has let down our critical health and aged workforce.
“We all know that the failures in care for the elderly are not one-off, exceptional or occasional – they are widespread. We have all seen the heart breaking consequences of the Government’s continued inaction – it simply must not continue.
“The Government cannot ignore the plight of nursing home residents, nurses and care workers, by failing to implement the Royal Commission’s key recommendations – safe minimum staffing levels, increased wages for aged care workers and genuine accountability for taxpayers’ money.
“We ask Mr Morrison, how many preventable deaths do there need to be and how many dedicated nurses or aged care workers need to be driven from their jobs before he finally fixes chronic staffing shortages, causing so much pain and suffering in the country’s nursing homes?”
For real reform of health and aged care, the ANMF is calling on the Opposition, the Greens and Independents to work with stakeholders and commit to: an increase in funding for public health and maternity systems; fund and legislate mandated staffing ratios in private aged care; improve wages and conditions for the depleted aged care workforce; legislate clear transparency measures to ensure that taxpayer-funds for aged care providers are tied-to direct care; provide equal rights for working women, starting with eradicating the gender pay and superannuation gap and address the health impacts of the climate crisis in Australia and the Pacific Region.
Hoping the election campaign brings more offerings
Statement by the Rural Doctors Association of Australia
The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) says it hopes a small range of measures announced for the rural medical sector in the Federal Budget may be followed by more significant announcements during the Federal Election campaign.
“We have again only seen an entrée of measures for the rural medical sector in this Budget, but there is a glimmer of hope that the main course may be in the oven,” RDAA President, Dr Megan Belot, said.
“We expected a tight Budget this year.
“We now need to see the Government deliver on real investment for the rural medical sector – and the Labor Party to show us what it can offer – as we go to the Election.
“Now is the opportunity for the major parties to step up and finally put the main meal for the rural medical sector, and rural Australians, on the table.”
RDAA will be analysing the Budget in detail in the coming days. In an initial response, RDAA has welcomed:
Two additional University Departments of Rural Health and a Rural Clinical School – and funding for an extra 80 Commonwealth Supported (CSP) rural medical school places – but RDAA has warned these will be of little benefit without more rural training places for junior doctors.
“We really need 400 full-time equivalent rural training places for junior doctors if we are to make an impact on the rural doctor workforce shortage, as this could provide as many as 1600 junior doctors with a quality rural placement experience” Dr Belot said.
“The Government needs to recognise that only funding medical school places will not deliver doctors to rural Australia – medical school is only the start of a doctor’s training journey.
“Until we align the increase in rural medical school places with more rural training places for junior doctors, we will not get the number of junior doctors to the bush that we need.”
A review of the Modified Monash Model (MMM) classification system for the purposes of allocating healthcare measures, and an annual reclassification of Distribution Priority Areas (DPAs) – RDAA appreciates this is being undertaken in a considered way, but is concerned that any decision to classify urban areas as DPAs would have significant potential to draw much-needed doctors out of rural towns and into the cities.
$4.6 billion over four years to continue to drive improvements in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
The release of the Government’s Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan. “While we still need to go through the Plan’s fine print, we welcome its release – but it must result in investment into General Practice as well as broader primary care or it will be meaningless” Dr Belot said.
$107 million for dental care in the Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan.
The development of a rural and remote Psychiatry training pathway and network.
Expansion of the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program to create opportunities for 150 nursing and allied health students, and Indigenous students, to experience clinical placements in the care and support sector each year.
“We really need substantial funding and significant reforms if we are to ensure the rural health system can survive into the future, and truly improve access to healthcare in the bush” Dr Belot said.
“We hope that in the lead-up to the Federal Election, we’ll see the kitchen doors swing open with some more substantial measures brought to the table.”
Government must focus more on Australia’s primary health care needs
Statement by the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association
The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) has welcomed moves by the Morrison Government in tonight’s federal Budget to partly address the urgent issues faced by primary health care nurses when caring for the health needs of millions of Australians.
Australia’s 90,000 primary health care (PHC) nurses work outside of the hospital system and are a vital link in meeting Australia’s health needs by caring for millions of patients in settings such as residential aged care facilities, general practices, correctional facilities and schools.
However, PHC nurses are exhausted, stressed and burnt out after two years of caring for the hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 patients in aged-care facilities as well as those recuperating at home. Governments also gave PHC nurses responsibility for administering millions of COVID vaccinations on top of their already-overwhelming workload without giving them additional funding or resources to do so.
This unrelenting pressure has created a crisis in meeting Australia’s primary health care needs, with one in four PHC nurses planning to leave an already shorthanded workforce within the next two to five years.
In an initial snapshot of tonight’s Federal Budget commitments1, the Morrison Government:
- committed to growing the aged care workforce and ensuring there are pathways for clinical placements within aged care will help to ensure more skilled and dedicated workers are in the pipeline. Additional investment of $14.9 million will address barriers to clinical placements in the care and support sector, attracting 5,250 more nurses.
- committed $50.4 million to provide 4,000 training places for RNs in RACFs to become Authorised Nurse Immunisers.
- committed $37.6 million to support 2,900 aged care nurses to access infection prevention and control (IPC) leadership training.
- Will provide $7.9 million to Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to deploy medical deputies, nurse practitioners and practice nurses to conduct home visits to COVID-19 positive patients in RACFs.
- committed $13.9 million towards the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme, which will support 300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduate students in health-related disciplines (including nursing) with full time scholarships worth up to $15,000 each per year and part time scholarships of up to $7,500 each per year.
APNA President Karen Booth welcomed the inclusion of nursing placements in tonight’s Budget but added that they barely addressed the current issues with keeping Australia healthy, which include an ageing PHC nurse workforce, overwhelming workloads, and a lack of available resources and nurses available to carry out vital preventative health care checks.
In addition, it is uncertain whether Australia will have enough PHC nurses to cater for future health needs, with thousands of nursing students around the country unable to graduate because they were unable to secure the clinical placement time in medical settings they need to qualify for their degree,
APNA President Karen Booth said the Morrison Government’s commitments to address the current crisis facing Australia’s primary health care needs falls short of what is required to fix the long-term systemic serious issues facing the profession.
Ms Booth said the Commonwealth urgently needed to tackle four critical issues to ensure Australia’s health needs could be met for decades to come:
- Avoid a forecast shortfall of PHC nurses in coming years by establishing a national student nurse placement system. This would bring nursing students into primary health care settings to help release the pressure on PHC nurses as well as establish a pipeline of new, skilled, and experienced PHC nurses for the future.
- Reform General Practice incentive payments to encourage practices to employ and use PHC nurses to best meet patient needs.
- Rebrand PHC nursing to recruit new graduates and retain current members in the workforce
- Train PHC nurses to help patients with chronic diseases to practice more self care, while also improving the resilience of the PHC nursing cohort to increase workforce retention and reduce burn out due to workload.
Falls short for science
Statement by Professor John Shine, President of the Australian Academy of Science
The 2022–23 Federal Budget contains some welcome measures for science but falls short on the vision needed to support Australia’s economic recovery and protect our future.
The Australian Academy of Science welcomes funding of $5.3m over two years to improve the National Science and Technology Council provision of evidence-based advice to government.
It was pleasing to see that mechanisms that bring science to the service of government will not be lost during or after Australia’s recovery from the pandemic.
This must continue to be an important part of our future preparedness.
The ongoing provision of evidence-based advice to independently inform government decisions was recommended in the Academy’s pre-budget submission.
The Academy also notes the Budget’s focus on space, mRNA manufacturing, medical research and funding for the University Research Commercialisation Fund.
Research translation, commercialisation and acceleration will be crucial for keeping Australia safe.
But this Budget falls short of the vision needed to put Australia on a strong footing in an uncertain future.
It is disappointing that fundamental science capability is not recognised as the first essential step in the commercialisation effort, and there are no measures to boost basic research investment.
This at a time when science is at the heart of every major issue being faced by our nation: the pandemic response; national security, mitigating and adapting to climate change; and recovering from flood and other extreme events.
Advanced industrial societies depend on a secure and active science sector to help deliver high-wage jobs and high-value industries to maintain the standard of living for their people and to propel economic growth. Australia is no different.
For scientists, the pandemic in Australia has brought about both great purpose and great uncertainty. Too many have been affected by reduced funding, job losses, increased workloads, and declining morale.
Despite one-off funding for research and science during the pandemic, in 2021 the Australian Government’s investment in science was 0.56% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – which is lower than comparable nations – and less than R&D investment in 2010.
The Academy welcomes the following measures announced in this Budget:
- $2b for a Regional Accelerator Program
- $1.3b for Australia’s space sector
- $83.1m for Australia’s circular waste economy
- $66.3m new funding for AIMS
- $50.5m for a virtual Critical Minerals R&D Centre
- $37.4m for research translation at CSIRO
- Expansion of the patent box tax concession to low emissions and agricultural technologies
- Continuing support for women in STEM, across the career pipeline.
- Continuing support for the Modern Manufacturing Strategy.
Extra refugee places welcomed
Statement by Refugee Council of Australia
The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has welcomed the announcement in the 2022 Federal Budget of 16,500 additional places for refugees from Afghanistan over the next four years.
“By setting aside 16,500 additional refugee places, the Morrison Government has listened to the concerns of many Australians who have felt that Australia could and must do more to support Afghan citizens at risk after the Taliban takeover of their country in August,” RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said.
“A campaign for 20,000 additional places has been led by Australia’s Afghan diaspora and supported by many organisations, faith groups, veterans and citizens.
“While the announced additional intake is a little smaller than that advocated by the national community campaign, these 16,500 additional places will provide hope and safety for some of the Afghan nationals most at risk, including people who worked with Australian forces and organisations in Afghanistan, separated family members, women and children at risk, LGBTIQ people and members of religious and ethnic minorities.
“The 4,125 additional places a year over four years will supplement the 13,750 places per year already in the Refugee and Humanitarian Program, lifting the combined annual total to 17,875 places. This will create greater room for the resettlement of refugees displaced by persecution in other countries including Myanmar, Iraq, Syria, Ethiopia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as providing options for the permanent protection of Ukrainians if the current conflict continues.
“The additional intake of 16,500 places is a substantial restoration of visas removed from the Refugee and Humanitarian Program or lost over the past two years. The annual program was cut by 5,000 places per year in the 2020 Budget from its previous level of 18,750 places. In the past two financial years, 13,382 of the remaining visas were never issued during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the lost places not rolled over into subsequent years.
“In January, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the Government would allocate 10,000 humanitarian and 5,000 family places for Afghan nationals over the four years to June 2025. The additional 16,500 humanitarian places over the four years from July 2022 to June 2026 will increase the number of visas for displaced Afghan to 31,500 over a five-year period (26,500 humanitarian and 5,000 family visas).
“The Budget papers show that the cost of the Government’s offshore processing policy has blown out substantially for the seventh time in eight years. Estimated actual spending for offshore processing in 2021-22 will be $958 million, a blowout of $146 million on the funds allocated in last year’s Budget. With $482.5 million set aside for the offshore processing policy in 2022-23 despite the very small numbers of refugees remaining in offshore locations, the total cost of the policy will be $9.65 billion over the 10 years since July 2013.”
For more Budget reaction, see this wrap compiling statements from: National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation; SNAICC, the national voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children; Australian Education Union; Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association; Australian Dental Association; Oxfam; End COVID For All; Consumers Health Forum; Youth Health Forum; Royal Australian College of General Practitioners; Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists; Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education; Australian College of Mental Health Nurses; Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia; Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW; Dementia Australia; Hepatitis Australia; Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations; Professionals Australia; Australian Psychological Society; Medicines Australia; Australian Medical Students’ Association; Community Foundations Australia and Philanthropy Australia.
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