Mission Australia’s response to Federal Budget 2020-21
- Shocking failure to address rising homelessness or the serious shortage of social homes, particularly given COVID-19 impacts.
- Baffling silence on permanent increase to income support.
- Welcome investment in youth employment, yet more must be done to better support disadvantaged young people seeking work.
Homelessness and housing
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey warned that the Commonwealth Government’s ongoing lack of investment in new social homes and absence of a national plan to end homelessness will push more people into homelessness.
It is shocking that the Federal Budget hasn’t done enough to commit to long-term investment to address the serious shortage of social homes in Australia.
“Ensuring everyone has a safe and secure place to call home is a national responsibility that was ignored in this year’s Federal Budget.
“Prioritising ending homelessness in Australia still isn’t being taken seriously at a national level.
“This year has been incredibly challenging for Australia’s most vulnerable people, including people experiencing homelessness and poverty. We are deeply concerned that high levels of unemployment, the reduction in the COVID Supplement rate and the huge debts in rent deferrals that some people are accruing will lead to a huge spike in housing insecurity and homelessness.
With this lack of commitment, there is a looming risk that even more people will be pushed into homelessness and unsafe living situations.
“Investing in 30,000 social homes within the next four years is an obvious solution that will not only help to end homelessness in Australia but will also create vital jobs in the construction industry.
“Despite a significant investment in infrastructure in this year’s Federal Budget to help create jobs, we are deeply disappointed the essential social infrastructure of social housing has been ignored.
“Particularly given 2020’s challenges, we cannot fathom why Australia still doesn’t have a national plan to end homelessness.
“At a time when homelessness is likely to increase, the Government has again deserted the needs of at least 116,000 people who are homeless and the thousands who are teetering on the edge of homelessness in severe rental stress during the recession.
“Ensuring everyone has a safe and secure place to call home is a national responsibility and was ignored in this year’s Federal Budget.
“Tackling the challenges of drought, bushfires, flood and a pandemic has distilled in our nation’s hearts and minds just how crucial a safe and secure home is for people to live, work, access education and stay well.
“We urgently need more social homes to help end homelessness in Australia. We cannot wait another year for these vital investments in the social homes that Australia profoundly needs.”
Adequacy of income support
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “While forewarned, we are baffled there was no indication about the future of income support in a Federal Budget in which the Treasurer acknowledged how these payments had supported the economy.
“We welcome the two cash payments that were announced by the Government for aged, carer, family and disability welfare recipients, but this is not nearly enough to address the ongoing insecurity experienced by people relying on income support payments.
We are left disappointed that the increasing number of people on JobSeeker have been ignored in the Federal Budget.
“The doubling of income support for people facing unemployment, from Newstart to the JobSeeker Payment with COVID Supplement, made an enormous difference to many Australians during the pandemic, including many that we serve at Mission Australia.
“With the JobSeeker COVID supplement recently reduced and no certainty beyond December yet provided, Mission Australia is one of many voices calling on the Government to secure a permanent floor to income support to keep people out of poverty and homelessness.
“Inadequate income support is incredibly distressing for the people we serve at Mission Australia. Without enough to cover the basics, they can be forced to make difficult decisions such as going without adequate food, missing out on life saving medicine, or being unable to afford transport to a job interview. Additionally, many can be pushed into stressful and unsafe living conditions as it’s all they can afford. All of this, coupled with the stressors of the pandemic, can enormously impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.
“Turning back to $40 a day from 2021 would be a disaster for so many people around Australia. It is too low, and would return too many people to poverty and drive many into homelessness at a time when we should be supporting people’s wellbeing and taking steps towards recovery.
As we move towards COVID-19 recovery, while people are seeking paid work, they need the certainty they’ll have enough money to put adequate food on the table, stay well and remain safely housed.
“With the numbers of people staring down the barrel of unemployment predicted to continue to rise, we need an urgent commitment from the Government to provide a permanent and adequate increase of income support payments.
“This would not only lift people out of poverty, but also help people to regain control of their lives, wellbeing and finances, as well as access transport and many other essential resources to seek and be ready for work.”
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “We know that young people will be disproportionately affected by the recession caused by COVID-19, as they are trying to transition from education to work when there are fewer jobs available.
“The Government has acknowledged this reality with the measures announced in the Federal Budget.
We welcome the announcement of wage subsidies for young people and hope that they will make a significant contribution in helping young people to engage in the labour market at a time of significant disruption for them.
“We also welcome the new wage subsidies for trainees and apprentices, but are concerned about what will happen after 12 months when the subsidy expires. We are also very concerned about many other people who are unemployed and severely impacted by the recession, especially those who have experienced unemployment for long periods and others who are disadvantaged in the labour market.
“We recognise the ongoing need for specialist youth employment assistance programs such as Transition to Work and are heartened by the Government’s investment of $21.9 million in this vital program.
There remains a critical need for more targeted programs to help disadvantaged young people into work.
“Every young person in Australia should have every opportunity to thrive and have access to the services, supports, education and training that they need.”
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