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A rolling wrap of reaction to the Wellbeing Budget

Below we compile rolling reaction to the Federal Budget. Also see this Twitter thread compiling reaction and follow the news at #WellbeingBudget2022.

See links to Budget statements here.

This post includes commentary from Australian Council of Social Service, Public Health Association of Australia, Consumers Health Forum, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Council on the Ageing Australia, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, SNAICC, The Australasian College of Paramedicine, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Oxfam Australia, People with Disability Australia, The Climate Council, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, Refugee Council of Australia, Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association, Australian Academy of Science, Australian Red Cross, Everybody’s Home, Australian Education Union, Amnesty International Australia, Anti-Poverty Network SA, Australian Medical Association, National Shelter, CBM Australia and the Australian Disability and Development Consortium, Medicines Australia, Allied Health Professions Australia, Australian College of Nursing, Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Jesuit Social Services.


Strong measures but deep concern on low income support, future revenue needs

Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said:

“This is a budget that delivers on some of the government’s important election commitments, and we welcome them.

We’re very pleased to see the $560m investment in community services, as well as investment in aged care, paid parental leave and child care.

We now also have a new housing accord, which lays the foundations for increasing the supply of social and affordable housing in Australia to deal with the housing crisis.

Other measures we welcome include provision for at least $3b in disaster payments over the forwards, $100m in solar banks to open up solar power for renters and low-income people, investment in The Voice and an Anti-racism Strategy.

We remain deeply concerned about the lack of action to lift the incomes of people living on payments like JobSeeker, which is just $48 a day. There are over 3 million people living in poverty, with many on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance forced to skip meals and essential medication, and live in their cars.

In a wealthy country like Australia, we should not condemn people to living on such inadequate incomes.

People on the lowest incomes face multiple crises including high inflation, 150,000 more people unemployed in 2023, rents up 10 per cent in just one year, high debt as well as multiple disasters. So, this must be the beginning and not the end of the hard work this government must do. We must see an urgent increase in income support for people on the lowest incomes in Australia.

We’re also very troubled to see that budget spending is forecast to increase by only 0.3 per cent per annum when we know we must deliver critical essential services to meet community need. It’s obvious the government will need more revenue to meet the community’s urgent needs, and for this reason, we cannot afford the $19b a year tax cuts starting in 2024.”


Some small, welcome first steps but where are the $s for prevention?

Public Health Association of Australia

The initial $3.2 million investment in the October Budget for the Centre for Disease Control is important and welcome, the Public Health Association of Australia has said.

The Centre is the most substantial public health decision to come out of a federal Budget in many years.

“At the moment the Centre for Disease Control is not about the money but the process,” PHAA CEO Adj Prof Terry Slevin said.

“The next step is what will be in the May Budget.”

As Health Minister Butler told Mr Slevin in a webinar: “We’ve committed funding to make sure that we work with states and territories, work with the sector, including with organisations like yours, Terry, that have taken such a deep interest in this, and make sure we get this model right for the future.”

We also welcome the initial steps and $3.2m toward creating a National Health Sustainability and Climate Unit and develop Australia’s first National Health and Climate Strategy.

We will continue advocating and working will our allies and partners in the months ahead to influence what we hope will result in greater detail and investment in the May 2023 Budget.

First Nations’ health

We welcome the Budget’s investments in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which are coupled with efforts to enact the Uluru Statement and hold a referendum within the next 18 months.

Measures include training up to 500 First Nations health workers through a $54.3m investment in the First Nations Health Workers Traineeship Program.

It’s also pleasing to see money to tackle Rheumatic Heart Disease, with $13.5m for the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) to offer prevention, screening and treatment programs.

This Budget also includes funding for areas which fall under the social determinants of health, such as investments in early childhood education and care, community wellbeing, women’s safety programs and funding to improve the health of LGBTQI+ Australians.

Expectations for May 2023 Budget

It is disappointing there was no new investment in actions to fulfil the National Preventive Health Strategy. We will be looking for NPHS-related investments in May, as well as developments in how the government will measure and improve peoples’ wellbeing.

It remains the case that about 2% of total health expenditure is on public and preventive health.

We have great expectations that the Labor Government will shift that, and increase investment over its term to redress the imbalance and reduce the focus on treating health problems which could have been prevented.

One way of funding those investments is to not proceed with the Stage 3 tax cuts.


A ‘no surprises’ budget but true health reform awaits

Consumers Health Forum

Consumers Health Forum, the peak body representing Australian health consumers, acknowledges the Government’s efforts to strengthen Medicare and primary care but says there is a long way to go before true health system transformation.

“This is the budget we were expecting but perhaps not the one we dreamt of,” CHF CEO Dr Elizabeth Deveny said. “It is a ‘no-surprise’ budget that delivers on the government’s election commitments, but the promise of true health system reform is still ahead of us.

“Health consumers will be very pleased about the reduction in the cost of medicines but for those on pensions or very low incomes, it would have been good for the PBS safety net threshold to be reduced further,” Dr Deveny said.

“We applaud the government’s commitment to strengthening Medicare. One of the underlying principles of universal healthcare is that consumers are able to access services, when and where they want them.”

CHF said that the funding of several initiatives to improve system navigation was evidence that the health system makes it too difficult for people to find the service they need without expert guidance.

“What health consumers want is for their health journey to be as seamless as other parts of their life – where services can be accessed via digital channels, face-to-face or a hybrid,” Dr Deveny said.

“We have a long way to go before that is achieved due to fragmentation of services, various models of care and a range of stop-gap measures.”

Dr Deveny said that, as stated in the Wellbeing budget paper, measuring what matters is the ultimate test of system performance.

“What we want to see in the future is that the consumers’ experience of care is measured, and that the consumers’ voice is hard-wired into all policy and healthcare decisions,” she said.

“Sadly, the budget did not include any funding to improve the health literacy of consumers, which empowers them and gives them the tools to share in decision-making around their healthcare.”

Dr Deveny said while CHF applauded the investment in housing and climate change, both of which directly impact health, it would have been good to see a greater focus on preventative health.

CHF’s views on healthcare budget initiatives:

  • Mental health – while restoration of psychiatric telehealth services loading in rural and regional areas is welcome, we would like to see the commitment to mental health services extend beyond Headspace and 10 session Better Access.
  • The commitment to strengthening First Nations’ health is very welcome.  Highlights are the additional 500 workers and traineeships codesigned with NACCHO, 17 new clinics, doubling the funding for rheumatic heart disease and 120 more dialysis chairs
  • Rural and Regional – welcome the workforce and training packages and incentive payments to GPs with  advanced skills.
  • Would like to see models of care and workforce solutions in remote communities
  • We called for a CDC in our election platform so good to see this commitment.
  • We also welcome the establishment of a National Health Sustainability and Climate Unit.

Welcome investments for health, aged care, child care and more

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)

The ANMF has welcomed funding for health and aged care and cost of living relief in the Budget.

ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said the significant investment is the first-step in fixing the troubled aged care sector, by providing support for staff ratios and other measures which will ensure safe, quality care for older Australians living in nursing homes.

“We commend the Government for recognising the need to prioritise funding for health and aged care in the Budget, particularly during these difficult economic times,” Butler said.

“We welcome funding to improve aged care and increase access to healthcare, including reducing the costs of prescriptions, which will ensure that everyday healthcare is more affordable and accessible for all Australians, when and where the