Introduction by Croakey: The Albanese Government is pitching its Budget as building a fairer Australia, with boosts to income and supports, cost of living relief, Medicare bulk billing, and the aged care workforce.
However, there are major concerns that income support increases in particular do not go anywhere near what is needed, that there is little to address the housing crisis, and no significant funding commitments to prevention in health.
Read the Treasurer’s speech, and you can access all the Budget papers here. See also our Twitter thread.
Below, we compile rolling reaction to the Budget from: Australian Medical Association (AMA), Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP), Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, Public Health Association of Australia, Everybody’s Home, Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Close the Gap, Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), Catholic Health Australia, community services provider cohealth, Australian Alcohol and other Drugs Council (AADC), Consumers Health Forum of Australia, Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association, People with Disability Australia and more to come.
Note: the post was updated on 12 May with additional analysis and graphics from the Australian Council of Social Service: see below.
Strong focus on supporting general practice, including welcome boost to bulk billing
Australian Medical Association (AMA)
The AMA said the Budget showed the Government had been listening to its calls to “tackle the viability crisis facing general practices, improve access to general practice for vulnerable Australians, tackle inadequate Medicare indexation and make medicines more affordable for consumers battling with the cost of living”.
President Professor Steve Robson said the AMA welcomes the record $3.5 billion to triple the bulk billing incentive for concession card holders and children under 16, with this applying to most GP consultations. It was much needed targeted support and would make a real difference, especially in rural and regional areas, he said.
He also welcomed changes to the formula for indexing Medicare rebates that will deliver an extra $1.5 billion over and above the former framework that had been in place since 1996.
Robson said the AMA was pleased to see $445.1 million in additional funding for the Workforce Incentive Program, to encourage general practices to engage more nursing and allied health professionals and support the delivery of well coordinated multidisciplinary care — all under one roof.
The $99.1 million in new funding for GP consultations that last 60 minutes or longer will help patients with very complex health care needs and support GPs to spend more time with them, Robson said.
The AMA welcomed the MyMedicare program, which will give patients the opportunity to voluntarily enrol with their preferred GP, saying the Government had “learnt from past mistakes” such as the Health Care Homes Trial, “preferring a blended funding model in which additional funding is made available on top of existing fee for service arrangements”.
Robson said while most of the implementation detail still needs to be worked through, it appears the Voluntary Patient Enrolment (VPE) will open up funding and access to additional telehealth services, enhanced GP led care for frequent hospital users, better targeted chronic disease items, and extra incentives for GP services in Residential Aged Care.
Robson said the Government had adopted MBS Review Taskforce recommendations including a six minute floor for a Level B consultation item, the simplification of GP chronic disease management arrangements and the encouragement of longitudinal care.
The Budget also contains $50 million for a wounds consumable scheme in general practice and confirms the move, over time for 325 medicines where a stable and clinically suitable patient can access 60 days supply of their medicine and a 12-month prescription from their doctor.
The AMA also welcomed announcements regarding a crack down on vapes, with $234 million committed to addressing the issue, and welcome progress on the establishment of an Australian Centre for Disease Control, with $91.1 million set aside for its establishment over the next two years.
Robson said the Budget forecasts suggest total expenditure on Medicare is going to be less than had been previously expected, although “as a society we are growing in size, we are growing older, and we have more chronic disease”. They also suggest Australia has still not rebounded from COVID-19, “while patients have also struggled to access the care they need due to cost and the failure to adequately invest in our health system. This means patients will be diagnosed later in their illness, when they are much sicker and their care needs are more complex. This will have profound implications for our public hospitals that are already buckling under pressure.”
Welcome pathway for nurses and midwives
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)
The ANMF said the Federal Government’s review of the scope of practice of healthcare professionals, including nurses and midwives, as part of a $6.1 billion dollar funding package to strengthen Medicare, will offer a pathway for better access to healthcare across the community.
ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said the removal of red tape which prevents highly-skilled nurse practitioners (NP) and eligible midwives from providing patients with timely access to needed health services, and the 30% increase in Medicare rebates for NP care, will empower them to do what they’re qualified and trained to do, without the need for ‘collaborative arrangements’ with doctors.
“The ANMF and our members believe this is a positive, first-step in putting nurses and midwives at the centre of genuine Medicare reforms and playing a key role in multi-disciplinary models of care across the community,” she said.
Butler said $445 million for the Workforce Incentive Payment (WIP) would encourage eligible general practices to employ more nurses, NPs and midwives, but called on the Government to continue to develop funding models, which genuinely incentivise multi-disciplinary models of care, where a consumer can choose their lead clinician, to improve chronic disease management and, critically, reduce pressure on EDs and hospitals.
The ANMF welcomed $11.3 billion to fund the long-awaited 15% pay rise for the underpaid aged care workforce, but again re-emphasised the need for the Government to enforce tight-rules on providers’ use of the money.
It also welcomed: $4.2 million for additional 6,000 practice nursing placements; $1m million to attract 500 previously Enrolled and Registered Nurses to return to the workforce; changes to scholarships to focus on nursing, midwifery and First Nations health workers; the tripling of the bulk-billing incentive payments for concession card holders, pensioners and people under 16; $818.5 million for First Nations health and the cost of living relief package, including increased access to the single parenting payment for children up to 14 and cheaper medicines.
$5.7 b package is “game changer” for GPs, patients
Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP)
The RACGP has welcomed the federal Budget as “a game changer” for GPs, practice teams and the patients they care for across Australia.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins commended the Government for a “massive investment in general practice care”, saying it was “groundbreaking” and the Government “has shown real commitment to strengthening Medicare and rebuilding general practice care for all patients.”
Higgins said the $5.7 billion funding package triples the bulk-billing incentive, hikes Medicare rebates twice this year, and boosts the Workforce Incentive Payment. It also includes funds for a new Medicare item for longer consultations lasting more than 60 minutes, which she said “will make a real difference for all Australians”.
“Hiking Medicare rebates this year in July and again in November is a good first step in reducing out-of-pocket costs for patients across the country at a time when it’s most needed given increasing cost of living pressures. Tripling the bulk billing incentive will help to increase access to care for those Australians who need it most and arrest the decline in bulk-billing. The new Medicare item, Level E, for consultations over 60-minutes, will improve access to care for patients with complex needs, such as those with chronic conditions and mental health issues.
Higgins said it was “fantastic news’” that Medicare patient rebates for longer phone consultations had been reinstated as a permanent fixture of the nation’s telehealth system,” she said.
Positive for older Australians – particularly women
Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia
COTA Australia said older Australians would receive many direct benefits from the budget. They include “energy relief of up to $500 per year, cheaper medicines, more GPs bulk billing pensioners and healthcare card holders without a co-payment, $15 a week more rent assistance, $20 a week more in JobSeeker payments, and an additional $40 more a week in JobSeeker if you’re 55 years old or older battling ageism when looking for a job for more than 9 months.”
“We know that older women are disproportionately impacted by unemployment and are unfortunately the fastest growing group at risk of homelessness, so budget measures that address those issues are not just welcomed, they’re crucial,” said CEO Patricia Sparrow.
COTA Australia also welcomed:
- the new health initiatives in the Budget, particularly tripling the bulk billing incentive payment to GPs and extended public dental services as well as an overall aged care spend increasing to $36B in 2023-24, including a long overdue pay increase for aged care workers
- an increase of 9000 home care packages and the foundations for a new home care program being laid, although it was disappointing that the creation of the new Support at Home Program has been delayed yet again
- measures that strengthen digital protections and education which older Australians will benefit from
- requiring superannuation to be paid on pay day
- funding to ensure the ATO has the teeth to be able to ensure compliance around the new superannuation requirements.
“We look forward to the new Aged Care Taskforce taking action to deliver on the next set of fundamental reforms, particularly ensuring a rights based system, self-management, improved support at home, sustainability and increased transparency in the sector,” Sparrow said.
Good steps but more needed for ACDC, prevention & income support
Public Health Association of Australia
The PHAA said the $90 million allocated for the Australian Centre for Disease Control (ACDC) is a welcome first step, but it will need proper funding in the years ahead “if it is to create enduring health improvements for current and future generations.”
PHAA CEO Adjunct Prof Terry Slevin said the success of the ACDC depends on all states and territories working in coordination with the Commonwealth, and clear signals had been seen of that in the very strong vaping and tobacco control measures announced last week.
“We appreciate these collective efforts, and note they could potentially be expanded to tackle other areas of public health,” he said, adding that the inclusion of preventive health in the announced scope of the ACDC sent a welcome message.
Slevin also encouraged the Government to announce the implementation and evaluation plan for the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030.
“The National Tobacco Strategy 2023-2030 and increased funding for the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program announced last week are steps towards the strategy’s goals, but other areas such as obesity and healthy diets are yet to see meaningful action.
“Compared to previous years, this budget is a substantial improvement for the public’s health. But we will be seeking more detail on the implementation of the National Preventive Health Strategy, how exactly this $90 million will be invested in the ACDC, and its long-term funding arrangements.”
“This is the most important change for public health this decade, potentially this century, and we have to make sure we get it right.”
The PHAA said increases to income support payments “are small and should be raised for everyone to better support health for priority populations”.
Mediocre budget won’t shift housing crisis
Everybody’s Home spokesperson Maiy Azize said the Federal Government had delivered “a mediocre budget for one of the biggest crises the nation is facing”.
“The budget has no plan to end Australia’s massive shortfall in social homes. Instead of acting on the biggest living cost facing Australians, it is tinkering around the edges,
“Tonight’s changes to Commonwealth Rent Assistance won’t make housing more affordable overall. Two in three people on JobSeeker and nine in ten people on Youth Allowance will miss out on rent assistance altogether, and those who do get a small increase will find that it has been swallowed by surging rents.
Azize said the only way to help renters on the lowest incomes is to give a major boost to JobSeeker and other Centrelink payments, and reform rent assistance so that it reaches people in need and keeps up with rent increases.
“We need action that truly matches the scale of Australia’s housing crisis – that’s what the community expects. Everybody’s Home will continue to push for 25,000 social homes to be built every year, for an end to tax handouts for landlords, and for more support for renters doing it tough.”
Much is welcome but JobSeeker still a ‘poverty payment’
Australian Council of Social Service
ACOSS said the Budget delivers critical support to single parents, people on low incomes needing health care, and kicks off important investment to retrofit low-income homes to improve their energy efficiency. It also provides a welcome increase in wages for people working in aged care and the establishment of a Net Zero Authority to oversee impacted worker and community transition to a clean economy.
Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO said:
“We welcome restoring Parenting Payment Single for 57,000 single parents whose youngest child is 13 or younger. The investment in Medicare to boost bulk-billed GP consultations as well as doubling medication available under one script will greatly help people on low incomes with chronic illness. The $300m investment to retrofit 60,000 social housing dwellings is a good first step to improving energy efficiency for low-income homes.
“However, the real increases to base rates of JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Rent Assistance will still leave more than one million people in poverty….Whilst every dollar counts, the $20 a week increase to JobSeeker and related payments is well below the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee’s finding that it needs to rise by at least $128 a week to ensure people can cover the basics.
“The government is providing an increase of $2.85 a day for people with the least. The Stage 3 tax cuts will deliver $25 a day to people on the highest incomes. We have our priorities wrong.”
“People aged 55 years and over and unemployed 9 months or more will now receive $56.70 a day, well below ACOSS’s ask of at least $76 a day.”
“Tonight, JobSeeker is still one of the lowest unemployment payments in the OECD, despite Australia being one of the wealthiest countries in the world. With unemployment forecast to rise to 4.5% by 2024-2025 – meaning a further 150,000 people will be without paid work – the government must right this long-standing wrong.
- the 15% increase to Rent Assistance, the first real increase in more than 30 years but said it would fail to prevent widespread housing stress, particularly for people on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance. ACOSS had asked for it to be doubled
- $4 billion to support organisations, including community sector organisations to fund wage increases, higher service delivery costs and increased demand
- the price cap on wholesale gas contracts and the energy bill payments of up to $500 (though it is awaiting further detail as to who will receive the support, amid concern that some people on the lowest incomes may miss out)
- reduced tax concessions for high-income earners in superannuation and tightening of tax compliance.
However it said the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax changes will only recover a fraction of what could be raised, and there’s no action on introducing a 10% royalty, which would raise an additional $8 billion a year.
“This budget takes some important steps forward on many fronts, but a bolder vision is needed to adequately fund health, aged care, income support and other essential services, as well as invest in an adequate safety net and reforms to fairly and inclusively accelerate action on climate change,” Goldie said.
See ACOSS’s updated and extended analysis, including (as below) graphics showing the disappointing level of rises to income and rental supports, here.
Indigenous funding to make a practical difference
Close the Gap Campaign, via Facebook
Improving the health and education of Indigenous Australians and listening to their voices are priorities for the Federal Government.
The Federal Budget released on Tuesday included $1.9 billion in measures which Indigenous Australian Minister Linda Burney said would make a “practical difference”.
The Government has allocated $364.6 million for the referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice in the constitution, including funding for the electoral commission, civics education and mental health support.
With smoking and vaping being a persistent health problem in Indigenous communities, a $141.2 million prevention program will be rolled out.
Cancer services targeted at First Nations people will get a $238.5 million boost.
A dedicated action plan to improve Indigenous women’s safety and tackle family violence will cost $194 million over five years.
Regional and remote Indigenous community water infrastructure will get a $150 million upgrade over four years.
As well, $155.9 million has been allocated over five years for Central Australia to improve school attendance, health, reduce crime and improve broadband and digital services.
Indigenous rangers will continue their work in reducing biosecurity risks across northern Australia, with $40.6 million going to programs.
A one-year partnership with the Northern Territory government, at a cost of $111.7 million, will see new remote housing built to reduce overcrowding.
Jobless Indigenous people are set to benefit from a new scheme to replace the Community Development Program.
Education will receive a $60 million injection with an extension of support for boarding students and more culturally appropriate distance learning.
Focus on gender equity welcome
MSI Australia Head of Policy and Research Bonney Corbin welcomed the Federal Government’s allocation of funding for Medicare reforms and gender equity incentives, saying addressing gendered discrimination in the health system is a welcome move towards strengthening health.
Investment in bulk billing and extended GP consults will assist in preventative health including sexual health checks.
Longer prescribing timeframes should increase access to essential women’s health products such as menopause hormone therapy.
Investment in nurse leadership models will assist in closing workforce gaps.
The expansion of the single parenting payment is critical given the cost-of-living crisis.
It’s unclear how this budget will assist those who call our clinics every day asking for financial support to access an abortion.
In a post Roe V Wade era, it’s critical that the government invests in universal access to abortion care in Australia.
We urge the government to make further announcements regarding funding for abortion care.
We are ready to work with the government to ensure that all people have access to the reproductive health care they need.
We look forward to working with the government to improve gender equity across Australia.
Climate action needs a health focus
Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA)
CAHA welcomed funding for action on climate in the Budget, but said more is needed to unlock the health benefits associated with climate action.
“Everyone in Australia will benefit from a cleaner, healthier and more just world”, CEO Roland Sapsford said.
“We commend the substantial investment in social housing to improve energy performance, which will improve the health of residents without increasing carbon emissions.
“We also commend the Commonwealth on its commitment to fund the establishment of a National Net Zero Authority and the Australian Centre for Disease Control in this year’s budget.
“We are, however, concerned that the budget does not provide much needed resources for the implementation of the National Health and Climate Strategy, expected later this year.
“In our pre-budget submission, we called for a commitment to tangible funding that will support the implementation of the Strategy. Funding like this is needed to ensure that action on climate change secures better health outcomes for all.
“Given the urgency of the climate crisis, we will be seeking clarification from the Commonwealth Government on behalf of the health sector about whether the Strategy can deliver timely action without a clear commitment of funds this financial year,” said Sapsford.
Meaningful investment for aged care
Catholic Health Australia
Australia’s not-for-profit Catholic aged care providers have welcomed the budget for delivering meaningful investment to aged care, sticking to key commitments and setting up future improvements.
Catholic Health Australia said the $11.3 billion to fund increased wages for aged care workers was the centrepiece of a positive budget.
CHA Aged Care Director Jason Kara said key measures in the budget included:
- $827.2 million over five years in the delivery of aged care services and implementing the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, including $112 million on a new General Practice in Aged Care incentive payment
- $309.9 million over five years to improve the regulation of the aged care sector, including enhancing the Star Ratings system and funding the Regulator’s audit program
- $536 million over two years to address the ongoing cost of COVID in aged care
- $48.6 million to establish Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the Inspector-General of Aged Care, recommendations from the Royal Commission to improve transparency and systemic issues within aged care
- $312.6m for improving aged care ICT and better information for consumers.
Kara also welcomed pauses in the Support at Home reforms until 1 July 2025 and in international student visa restrictions until 31 December for those students working in the aged care sector.
“If implemented as planned, the student visa restriction was likely to have a detrimental impact on the care provided to elderly Australians. Providers are working hard to recruit and train a quality care workforce ahead of the 200 minutes of care requirements in October this year. Placing further impediments to a workforce would have left residents short of these standards.”
A budget with health at its heart
Community health service provider cohealth said a tripling of the bulk billing incentive combined with more funding for team-based primary health care were cause for celebration.
The Budget goes along way to supporting priority groups to access GPs and the delivery of multidisciplinary models of care as recommended by the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, said CEO Nicole Bartholomeusz.
“This is a budget with health at its heart. The Federal Government has listened to the concerns of Australians when it comes to accessing essential healthcare, particularly for people who face the greatest barriers to good health.”
“We’re excited to see the principles underlying the Victorian community health model being adopted at the national level – even if not by name – with this shift towards multidisciplinary approaches to primary health care delivery.
Bartholomeusz said cohealth welcomed the Budget health measures which prioritise people facing disadvantage, including through funding for longer GP consults.
“The majority of clients that community health services support are facing multiple complexities including chronic health issues and a range of social disadvantage such as homelessness, drug dependence, mental ill-health and discrimination, and require long consultations.”
“The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce made it clear that GPs operating in the current fee-for-service medicine model are struggling to respond to the increasingly complex and chronic health issues of Australians, and tonight’s budget starts to address these concerns.”
cohealth says the modest increase to Centrelink payments and increasing access to Parenting Payment Single are small steps in the right direction, but that people’s health will continue to suffer while they are forced to live below the poverty line.
“People living in poverty can’t afford the basic building blocks of good health; decent housing and food, essential medicines, education and social participation,” she said.
“So many people in cohealth’s waiting rooms would not be there if we simply ensured they had a liveable income.”
Other Federal budget measures that cohealth praised are:
- Reducing financial barriers to accessing opioid replacement therapy
- New dispensing rules that allow people to pick up double scripts
- Connecting frequent hospital users to general practices to receive comprehensive, multidisciplinary care in the community
- Establishing a new MBS item for a longer consultation of 60 minutes or more to support improved access and service affordability for patients with chronic conditions and complex needs.
Light at the end of the tunnel for alcohol, other drug services
Australian Alcohol and other Drugs Council (AADC)
The AADC has welcomed $68.3 million “for better drug and alcohol prevention and treatment”, saying it provides a reprieve for many organisations providing vital services to individuals, families and communities impacted by alcohol and other drugs (AOD) across Australia.
“For the first time in years there’s light at the end of the tunnel that isn’t a train coming for Australia’s AOD sector in the wake of tonight’s Federal Budget,” said Melanie Walker, AADC CEO.
In particular, the Government will provide $33.6 million over two years from 2023–24 to improve health outcomes through extending existing AOD programs in the community:
- $17.3 million over two years from 2023–24 for the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services Maintenance program, which provides financial support to the social and community services sector
- $5.9 million in 2023–24 for the Alcohol and Drug Foundation to run the Good Sports program, which offers free support to community sports clubs to develop policies relating to AOD use and mental health
- $3.5 million over two years from 2023–24 to The Glen for Women, which provides culturally appropriate AOD treatment services to First Nations women
- $3.1 million over two years from 2023–24 to Hello Sunday Morning for its Daybreak program
- $2.7 million over two years from 2023–24 for the Path2Help program, which provides a national online directory linking people to locally available support and information services
- $1.1 million over two years from 2023–24 for the SMART Recovery Australia program online platform, which provides free access to addiction support programs.
“The Government is also extending a range of other programs, including those providing screening and counselling, and funding essential diagnostic services for Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). In addition, the more than 50,000 Australians who need treatment for opioid dependency will have funded support to access the treatment they need from their local pharmacy at a cost they can afford, through a $377.3 million investment over 4 years in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Opioid Dependence Treatment program,” said Walker.
AADC also anticipates a share for the AOD sector will receive a share of an extra $4 billion reportedly allocated in the Budget to help pay the wages bill for organisations providing critical services to vulnerable groups. The measure – which will enable indexation to be applied to Commonwealth contracts with service providers – comes on top of $560 million in last October’s Budget over four years to address cost pressures for community sector organisations arising from both wage pressures and higher inflation.
“The AOD sector has been underfunded for many years and this has been exacerbated by the lack of consistent indexation on Commonwealth contracts with AOD services for the better part of a decade.”
Reforms an “excellent start” to improving access to affordable healthcare
Consumers Health Forum of Australia
The health reforms announced in tonight’s Federal Budget will go a long way towards giving consumers greater access to affordable primary care, according to CHF, the national peak body for health consumers.
CHF, which represented consumers on the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, welcomed key initiatives including:
- A $3.5 billion investment to triple the bulk billing incentive, leading to more free GP consultations for children under 16, pensioners and other Commonwealth concession card holders
- An indexation increase to Medicare rebates
- The ability for consumers to buy two months’ worth of 300+ medicines on a single trip to the local pharmacy.
“For years, consumers have been telling us they need more access to affordable primary care services. The reforms announced are an excellent start,” CHF CEO Dr Elizabeth Deveny said.
“Rather than increase the Medicare rebate across the board, these changes incentivise GPs to provide extra care to pensioners and children, as well as those who have high levels of chronic and complex health conditions or socioeconomic disadvantage, at no cost.”
CHF also welcomed the government providing $10.5m (over four years) to help broaden its engagement and support of consumers around Australia.
“This is a win for health consumers who will be supported to have a greater say in the design and implementation of health reforms that affect them,” Deveny said.
Some 3000 everyday Australians signed CHF’s petition asking the Government to give consumers a greater say in making our primary care system more effective and efficient.
“We asked the Government to listen to consumers and they have done this,” Deveny said.
“For too long the needs of everyday Australians have been drowned out by lobby groups. Today the tide has turned.
“This government has demonstrated that putting consumers at the centre of health policy and service delivery is now a firm commitment.
“CHF looks forward to working with all parts of the health system to enhance the health and wellbeing of all Australians.”
Budget addresses nursing shortages, strengthens primary healthcare
Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association
APNA said the Budget lays the groundwork for structural change in healthcare and will strengthen Australia’s primary healthcare (PHC) system by addressing growing nursing shortages, seeing more nurses hired where they are needed, and better utilising the largest workforce in PHC of nearly 100,000 nurses to their full potential.
APNA President Karen Booth said the Albanese Government “has signalled a clear intent that the status quo in primary healthcare is no longer an option”.
Booth said the Budget will enable growth in the PHC nursing workforce through student placements, education scholarships and increased wages in aged care and opens the door to wage increases for nurses working in general practice.
It could significantly boost job prospects and career progression in primary healthcare, as well as strengthen the current PHC nursing workforce by funding:
An 18-month national Scope of Practice review
- 6,000 additional clinical placements in primary healthcare nursing ($4.2 million over four years)
- 1,850 graduate scholarships to train more Nurse Practitioners ($50.2 million over four years)
- $1 million towards incentives to get 500 nurses back into the workforce.
Additionally, as part of MyMedicare, $19.7 million will be provided over four years to ensure patients receive consistent care from a team of healthcare providers, which includes PHC nurses.
“On a policy level the elimination of Collaborative Arrangements for nurse practitioners and participating midwives, and scope of practice review, have the potential to be game changers for health care,” Booth said.
But while the increase to WIP incentive payments is welcome, there must be accountability for how the funding is used, to ensure the increase leads to improved wages for practice nurses, she said.
Support for survivors of domestic abuse welcome; more required on housing
People with Disability Australia
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) welcomes the Treasurer’s assurance that “the NDIS is here to stay” in his budget speech. However, tonight’s budget has more to do on housing and economic security measures that would bring comfort to the disability community.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to work with the disability community in implementing the new NDIS initiatives funded in tonight’s budget,” said PWDA President Nicole Lee. “Following recent concerns, we’re buoyed that the eight percent growth target for the NDIS is a target and not a cap, and that the NDIS will remain demand driven,” Lee said.
“However, it is important that the community is given an ongoing commitment that their choice and control over access to essential supports is protected,” continued Ms Lee. “People with disability fought hard for essential supports from the NDIS. To maintain and build stronger trust, it’s crucial the government delivers essential supports in a demand driven way.”
The investment of over $910 million over four years to improve the operations of the NDIA and NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission is a good start.
“We want to see the NDIS run well so it continues to produce life-changing outcomes for people with disability and is sustainable for future generations,” said PWDA Deputy CEO Carolyn Hodge.
In particular, PWDA welcomes the increased investment in safeguarding with $142.6 million earmarked for NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. “Too often we see people with disability pay the price for low-quality or unsafe services and this needs to change,” Hodge said.
Additionally, PWDA welcomes the $14.1 million over two years for COVID-19 Payments. “Ensuring workers supporting people with disability will have access to financial support if they contract COVID-19 and don’t have leave entitlements, will be key to reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection for people with disability,” Hodge said.
“COVID-19 is far from over for people with disability, who continue to remain at significant risk,” continued Lee.
While we welcome the $40 a fortnight increase to JobSeeker and other related payments and the $31 per fortnight increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance, the government has more to do to provide housing and economic security for people with disability.
“Increases to JobSeeker are really important and will make a difference to people with disability, especially with many people unable to access the Disability Support Pension,” Hodge said. “After the NDIS, housing is the number one issue that people with disability contact our individual advocacy services about.”
“While these increases are welcome, we need to put the $31 per fortnight rise in the context of huge housing cost increases that show no signs of slowing,” she said.
While PWDA welcomes the government’s $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund in tonight’s budget, despite people with disability benefiting from significant investment in social and affordable housing, targeted sustainable measures needed to be in the budget to ensure people with disability didn’t fall behind in the housing crisis.
“A dedicated national housing plan for people with disability is what we called for in tonight’s budget. This plan would have ensured the disability community remained in focus,” Hodge said.
“Inaccessible housing is a long-lasting issue on top of the unaffordability of housing, so measures through a national housing plan for people with disability would have addressed accessibility and affordability barriers,” said Ms Lee.
PWDA also welcomes the support for victim-survivors of domestic and family violence, following changes to the assessments of whether a person is a member of a couple for social security purposes,” Lee said.
“People with disability are far more likely to be subject to violence, and these new changes will make it easier to escape violence.”
Bookmark this link to follow our Federal Budget coverage