Government applauded for social spending but critics say vulnerable Australians are still left behind

The Australian Council on Social Services welcomed efforts to improve essential services, while criticising the neglect of vulnerable Australians.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison listens to Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handing down his third Federal Budget in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison listens to Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handing down his third Federal Budget. Source: AAP

The federal budget's big investments in areas such as aged care and disabilities support have been welcomed by many, although critics warn too many vulnerable people remain neglected.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday night unveiled the 2021 federal budget, detailing a plan to build Australia's economic recovery through significant investments in aged care, mental health and disability support.

“A strong economy enables us to guarantee the essential services Australians rely on,” the treasurer said.

“In this budget, the government is providing record funding for schools, hospitals, Medicare, mental health, aged care and disability support."

One of the most significant investments will be in aged care. In response to the scathing royal commission into aged care, the government has promised $17.7 billion to overhaul the scandal-prone sector.

The Australian Council on the Ageing welcomed the investment as the "biggest aged care investment in a generation".

"This is a serious and meaningful response to the ‘neglect’ identified by the Aged Care Royal Commission and the need to transform the industry," council chief executive Ian Yates said.

In contrast, the Health Services Union said the funding boost would not fix a sector that has been in "chronic crisis for years".

"For carers, therapists and support workers there is no commitment to permanent, better paid jobs," HSU national president Gerard Hayes said.

"Clearly, the government’s plan is to continue exploiting the goodwill of an insecure, underpaid workforce of women."

Other substantial investments outlined in the budget include $2.3 billion towards mental health and suicide prevention and $13.2 billion in additional funding towards the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

Lifeline Australia chair John Brogden said it was an "extraordinary budget for mental health". 

The Australian Council on Social Services welcomed efforts to improve essential services, while criticising the neglect of vulnerable Australians.

"The budget provides much-needed funding to finally start fixing some of the gaping holes in our aged care, childcare, mental health, and domestic violence services," council chief executive Cassandra Goldie said.

"So far the government has given around $20 billion dollars in personal tax cuts to people already in paid jobs for the next financial year, plus tens of billions in business tax incentives.

"But not a single cent more to people living in deep poverty, including women on low incomes."

The charity Mission Australia said the budget displayed a "disappointing lack of leadership on affordable housing".

"The essential social infrastructure of social housing has been ignored yet again while the federal government continues to heavily invest in other infrastructure. Where is the leadership and innovation which this issue desperately requires," chief executive James Toomey said.

"While we acknowledge the government’s investment in measures to help support people into home ownership, including single parents through the Family Home Guarantee, these do not go far enough to address the structural problems with housing and homelessness in this country."


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Published 11 May 2021 at 10:04pm
By SBS News

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