Catherine Yeomans, Mission Australia CEO said: “This is a mixed budget for vulnerable Australians.

On the one hand, we welcome the new Youth Employment Package, worth $840.3 million over four years. This builds on the previous youth employment initiative in last year’s Budget and, together, these represent a significant investment in the future of our country.

“On the other hand we are also disappointed there is nothing new in the Budget to address the rising rate of homelessness or the acute shortage of social and affordable housing.

“The Government has missed this opportunity to provide certainty to around 800 services across Australia working to prevent and respond to homelessness.”

Youth Employment Package

The Youth Employment Package, including the centrepiece Youth Jobs PaTH program, is a welcome alternative to work-for-the-dole, which has proved to be ineffective at assisting young people who often need extra help to move from school to a job.

Mission Australia cautioned that the new program must provide additional assistance to address the special needs of young people who are highly disadvantaged, face multiple barriers to employment and need extra support to find and keep a job.

Ms Yeomans said: “We have called on the Government to address the gap in the current youth employment programs, for the most vulnerable young people. There is a danger that this new program will also not provide the necessary tailored support.

“We look forward to working with the government on the detailed design of the new program, to ensure this vulnerable group doesn’t miss out.

“We have to invest in all of our young people to ensure the future prosperity of Australia, as well as to help them achieve their individual aspirations. They are our most precious assets.

“With a youth unemployment rate of over 12%, we should be ensuring young people have the skills and experience to take on the jobs of tomorrow.”

Other positive features of the Budget welcomed by Mission Australia are:

  • New investment in early intervention trials for vulnerable children and for young people leaving out-of-home-care; and
  • The development of innovative approaches to assist identified groups avoid long-term welfare dependency and move into employment.

Missed opportunity to address homelessness

Ms Yeomans said: “Disappointingly, there is nothing new in the Budget to address the rising rate of homelessness or the acute shortage of social and affordable housing.

“The Government has missed this opportunity to provide certainty to around 800 services across Australia working to prevent and respond to homelessness.

The Government did not include in the Budget an extension for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. This means that these services – which help about 80,000 homeless people each year – face an unknown future.

“We now strongly urge all governments to work together through COAG as a matter of urgency to develop a new agreement to ensure certainty for specialist homelessness services.

“Current rates of homelessness are unacceptable for a prosperous country like Australia. Of particular concern are the more than 44,000 children and young people who are homeless.

“A crucial factor in the rising rates of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing in cities and towns across the country. Again, the Government has missed the opportunity of the Budget to provide any measures facilitating the growth of necessary social and affordable housing.

“Affordable housing is critical national infrastructure and national leadership is required. We call on the Government to announce real measures to stimulate growth of affordable housing supply,” Ms Yeomans added.

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