Mission Australia’s response to Federal Budget 2023-24
- Mission Australia says Federal Budget takes small positive steps but not enough to end housing and homelessness emergency.
- Amidst cost-of-living pressures, Mission Australia worries the Government’s refusal to increase JobSeeker to at least $76 daily will force more people into poverty and homelessness.
- Mission Australia delighted to see measures to scale up place-based community-led work to strengthen communities.
- Mission Australia welcomes $732.9M to boost NDIS effectiveness and support participant outcomes.
Mission Australia’s CEO Sharon Callister said: “The 2023-24 Federal Budget contains a number of positive but relatively small-scale measures to support the people served by Mission Australia and other community services organisations.
“We acknowledge the Government’s intent to ease some of the pressures for people who are doing it tough, and their genuine discussions with the community sector.
“However, the lack of a serious move to address poverty by making substantial increases to JobSeeker and other income support payments is a sharp and continuing disappointment.
“Additionally, there is no new initiative of scale to respond to the current devastating housing emergency – nothing to stop more and more people being pushed into homelessness across the country. The Government’s efforts on housing for low-income earners remain sensible measures that will see some more social housing eventually, but nothing by way of immediate relief for people without safe and affordable homes.
“Poverty is a common experience among the people that we serve. We will continue to work constructively with the Government, while pressing it on measures to end poverty and to end homelessness, alongside our sector colleagues.”
Homelessness and housing
Mission Australia’s CEO Sharon Callister said: “While Mission Australia welcomes several new Budget measures that aim to boost social and affordable housing supply, they’re only small steps towards ending homelessness amidst Australia’s escalating housing emergency which is forcing too many individuals and families into homelessness.
“These new Budget measures include the addition of $2 billion to the NHFIC liability cap and tax breaks to incentivise investment in build-to-rent housing.
“We also acknowledge that the Federal Government is taking action on other fronts including making existing social housing stock energy efficient; funding initiatives to connect people who are homeless with primary care services; and seeking to reform renters’ rights and zoning rules.
“However, as a homelessness services and community housing provider, we know these actions aren’t enough to end Australia’s housing and homelessness emergency. The Government has set out a plan of action, but we haven’t yet seen investment flow to where it’s needed. We need ambitious and committed leadership on this issue from all political representatives to respond to the urgent demand for more social and affordable housing across the country.
“Almost one million new social and affordable homes are going to be needed over the next 20 years to meet the growing need.
“Rents have never been less affordable and our frontline workers across the country say the housing situation is the worst they have seen it. Everyone should have a safe and secure home, but Australia still doesn’t have enough affordable and appropriate housing for everyone who needs it because of years of Government underinvestment.
“More than 270,000 people were helped by homelessness services last year. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are disproportionately affected by homelessness, making up 20 per cent of the homeless population but 3.2 per cent of the general population. This demands far more Federal Government investment and leadership beyond the existing commitments to significantly boost the numbers of new social and affordable homes.”
Ms Callister continued, “We are also deeply concerned by the lack of investment to prevent youth homelessness. We particularly hoped to see a commitment to more Youth Foyers nationwide to provide vital housing, education and employment opportunities and help young people who are homeless or at risk to thrive. They have been proven to break cycles of homelessness and disadvantage for young people, especially at a time where youth homelessness numbers remain unacceptably high.”
Mission Australia is on track to open the charity’s first Youth Foyer in Townsville later this year with the Queensland Government.
Ms Callister continued, “We call for Federal Government investment to grow Youth Foyers. As we saw in the recent Under One Roof report, if the Federal Government invested in a growth strategy towards 50 Youth Foyers by 2030, it would transform the lives of 20,000 young people experiencing cycles of disadvantage, leading to a benefit of $950 million in avoided costs by 2030 and $2.9 billion by 2040.”
“This Budget is a missed opportunity to do more for people who are homeless and at risk. We encourage the Federal Government to set a bolder goal – to use the opportunity of developing a National Housing and Homelessness Plan and negotiating a new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement to commit to real action to end homelessness. We know this is an achievable goal, with national leadership and commitments from governments at all levels,” said Ms Callister.
Income support and cost-of-living measures
Mission Australia’s CEO, Sharon Callister said: “Mission Australia has long advocated for reform of Commonwealth Rent Assistance. We are pleased the Federal Government has acknowledged the financial pain felt by many low-income households right now, but this small 15 per cent increase doesn’t completely answer the need for a wholesale review of its adequacy and targeting as recommended by the Productivity Commission.
“We also acknowledge the small $20 a week increase to JobSeeker and other payments and the lowering of the threshold for older long-term unemployed people from 60 to 55 years old. However, the Federal Government’s ongoing refusal to increase income support payments like JobSeeker to an adequate amount is condemning individuals and families to an ongoing struggle to make ends meet and keep a roof over their head.
“The Federal Government knows that $52.85 a day doesn’t come close to providing people with enough to live on and forces them into incredibly tough situations, and many are asking organisations like Mission Australia for help for the first time in their lives.
“Adequately raising income support is crucial as housing and cost-of-living pressures are taking their toll and those reliant on the inadequate payments are living below the poverty line and are struggling the most.
“Alongside a multitude of Australians across sectors, we urge the Federal Government to implement the first priority recommendation of the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee and permanently increase the base rate of JobSeeker and other income support payments to at least $76 a day to keep people out of poverty and homelessness.
“Other cost-of-living measures announced in the Budget, including energy rebates and cheaper medicines, are a welcome acknowledgement that people are doing it tough but won’t fix the problem of poverty in the long-term.
“The funding for the ongoing work of the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee will be important to ensure the Government receives ongoing advice on these vital issues.” .
Community services extended contracts and funding
Mission Australia’s CEO Sharon Callister said: “We note the changed indexation arrangements for community services announced in the Federal Budget. While the sector works together to get across the details, we recognise the Government’s efforts to support community services at a time when so many people across Australia are struggling and needing support from our frontline workers.
“To ensure the long-term adequacy and sustainability of community services, there needs to be a range of other measures and we look forward to continued conversations with the Government about those measures.
“Funding for the full cost of service delivery, including infrastructure, management, workforce development and administration costs in all Commonwealth grants and contracts for community services as well as extended contracts would allow services like ours to meet the increased demand and better help people at their time of need.”
Mission Australia’s CEO Sharon Callister said: “We are delighted that this year’s Federal Budget has seized the opportunity to scale up place-based community-led work to improve wellbeing and equity in local communities.
“The $200 million investment is vital for addressing persistent, localised disadvantaged and supporting communities to thrive, in line with the recommendations in the Strengthening Communities Alliance’s recent Strengthening Communities Position Paper.
“We welcome the announcement of an impact investment fund, the extension of the Stronger Places, Stronger People initiative, and measures to build a whole-of-government framework to support place-based approaches and to improve data and organisational capacity. These measures will help create the foundations for scaling place-based initiatives and making them sustainable, as the Alliance has been calling for.
“We look forward to discussions with Government about these important measures.”
Mission Australia’s CEO Sharon Callister said: “As a provider of Local Area Coordination and Early Childhood Early Intervention services, Mission Australia welcomes the $732.9 million investment to support participant outcomes and the effective and sustainable operation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“Along with people with disability and their carers and families, we look forward to reforms that optimise the contribution of the NDIS to the lives of people with disability in Australia.”
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