Budget 2018

'Everything’s going up': Young families hope for budget relief to ease cost of living

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Budget 2018: Making ends meet is a struggle for many Australian families with young children who are looking for relief with childcare costs and education.

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From the home they rent in the outer Melbourne suburb of Mernda, Angelo and Jeny Cupellini sift through their bills and work out their budget.

Each month, they forecast their expenditure and prepare for any unexpected costs, which can sometimes arise with two young children - four-year-old Enya, and 15-month-old Reyna.

Angelo and Jeny Cupellini work out the family's budget.
Angelo and Jeny Cupellini work out the family's budget.
SBS News

Mr Cupellino lists their upcoming costs, which include car insurance and registration fees, electricity and gas bills.

"We’ve also got to make sure the credit card is paid off because the kindergarten fees are coming out of that. It’s going to be a tight month so we have to make sure we’re very careful.”

Mr Cupellini is a retail manager and Mrs Cupellini picks up casual shifts when she can.

"I’ll sort of cover one of her days, so my RDO is her day, Jen’s mum will look after the kids on the weekend so we work the same day, so that we can have one day on the weekend together, but if a shift pops up that she can take, then she obviously takes that and then there goes the family day, for a fortnight.”

"Being a casual, you do earn higher money, but you don’t have the benefits of sick leave or any kind of entitlements that you would get elsewhere," says Mrs Cupellini.

Her mother helps when she can, but she works full time.

“We have considered child care, but it seems to be counterproductive because I’m earning money to pay someone else who’s essentially doing a job that I can do.”

'Everything’s going up'

Their income means they just miss out on Centrelink benefits. The dream of owning their own home is just out of reach too.

“My whole salary goes towards paying virtually every single bill in the house, and my wife just works casual and that goes towards food, so if she loses hours or anything like that, we’ve got to cut back everywhere else," Mr Cupellini tells SBS News.

"Everything’s going up, and wages are pretty much staying the same."

Welfare groups say that the challenges faced by the Cupellini's mirror those of many young families around Australia.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Public Affairs and Policy Advisor, Farah Farouque says unemployment is higher in the outer suburbs, and often families don’t have the resources to find the right balance.

“In the outer suburbs of Australia and in the regions, the services aren’t as good as they are in the inner cities, and people are paying a price for that. Those who work, are spending a lot of time on the roads, you know, petrol costs, to get to work if they have a job.”

The Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Public Affairs and Policy Advisor, Farah Farouque.
The Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Public Affairs and Policy Advisor, Farah Farouque.
SBS News

'Nothing too dramatic' on the cards

On Budget eve, families like the Cupellinis' are hoping for relief on a number of fronts, including tax, housing, utilities, infrastructure and education - some of which have been foreshadowed by the government.

Professor Roger Wilkins, from the Melbourne Institute Economic and Social Policy research team, says many Australians would hope to find themselves in a better position following Tuesday night’s budget.

“Many families would perceive themselves to be doing it quite tough, particularly in the broader context of wages growth being very slow, household incomes more broadly, have stopped growing. For many people, it feels like their living costs are going up, particularly if they are starting a family and having more mouths to feed.”

"Many families would perceive themselves to be doing it quite tough": Professor Roger Wilkins.
"Many families would perceive themselves to be doing it quite tough": Professor Roger Wilkins.

While there may be some big budget announcements, Professor Wilkins says he’s not expecting anything too dramatic.

“In an environment where the government's fiscal position is looking stronger than they expected it to be this time a year ago, I wouldn't be surprised if there were some extra gifts in store.”

Preparing to send four-year-old Enya to school next year, Jeny and Angelo Cupellini are hoping Tuesday's Budget adds up to a more fruitful future.

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