Media Release: Mission Australia’s response to Federal Budget 2019-20
- For the second year, blatant inaction by the Commonwealth Government to address rising homelessness or the critical shortage of social and affordable homes.
- Welcome investment in mental health of young people and vocational education and training.
- Newstart and Youth Allowance still inadequate.
Homelessness and housing
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey questioned the Commonwealth Government’s blatant neglect of the needs of thousands of people experiencing homelessness and rental stress in Australia.
Year on year, Mission Australia has staunchly advocated for a national plan to end homelessness and long-term investment to address the critical shortage of social and affordable homes and increase rent assistance for those on the lowest incomes. Once again, the Government has blatantly neglected the needs of thousands of people who are homeless and those who are experiencing rental stress.
This must be tackled as a priority, particularly while the Budget is in surplus. The essential social infrastructure of housing has been ignored, despite a boost in infrastructure spending.
This is a national responsibility and a good Budget must prioritise ensuring that everyone has a safe, secure place to call home.
Australia’s housing system remains broken and in urgent need of repair and investment. A safe, secure home provides the foundation from which Australians can access work, education, healthcare and connect with their communities. Sadly, the radio silence on the housing and homelessness front in this year’s Budget shows the Government is failing to address what is sorely needed.
We urgently need a commitment to at least 500,000 new social and affordable homes by 2030. So that the thousands of people and families who simply can’t afford private rent aren’t pushed into precarious and unsafe living situations.
The Federal Budget was also a wasted opportunity to provide increased rent assistance for those of us who rent, to make homes more affordable, accessible and permanent.
It’s well known that homelessness is on the rise and more than 116,000 of us don’t have a safe, secure place to call home. We cannot wait another year for these vital investments in the social infrastructure Australia needs.
Two years ago, the Federal Budget 2017’s initiative to establish the National Housing Finance & Investment Corporation was a welcome acknowledgement that the Commonwealth has a critical role in increasing affordable housing. But without additional investment, more people will be pushed into homelessness across Australia.
Ageing and homelessness
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “We welcome the investment in home care packages and residential care but there was a lack of investment in supporting older people experiencing rental stress who are at high risk of homelessness.
If there were enough social and affordable homes for older people, it would allow them to age with dignity without having to worry about ensuring they have a safe, secure home to live in.
Domestic and Family Violence and Homelessness
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “We welcome further investment in prevention of domestic and family violence and emergency accommodation under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. We know domestic and family violence is one of the major drivers of homelessness in Australia for women and their children. Emergency accommodation provides immediate safety, but what remains lacking is access to permanent safe homes for victim-survivors and their children to prevent and address homelessness when violence does occur.”
Youth mental health
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “We welcome the recognition of the need for greater support for youth mental health and suicide prevention. Mission Australia has been calling for increased investment in youth mental health supports as we continue to hear increasing concerns from young people relating to their mental health every year in our annual Youth Survey.
We know that people experiencing mental illness are at heightened risk of homelessness. We also know that the best chance of recovery is when appropriate supports are wrapped around stable housing, which is why we continue to call for increased investment in social and affordable housing and a national plan to end homelessness.
Vocational Education and Training
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “We welcome the investment in the vocational education and training system including investment in apprenticeships and training hubs in regions with high youth unemployment.
Young people, irrespective of their economic background, should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and be able to access the services, supports, education and training that they need.
Adequacy of income supports
Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “The Federal Government’s commitment to welfare reform has stalled. The Federal Government has ignored growing inadequacies in income support for those receiving Newstart and Youth Allowance which is leaving people to survive on as little as $278 a week.
We know that the income support payment for people who are looking for jobs, Newstart, should be enough to cover the basics so that people can focus on securing employment, rather than struggle to afford a roof over their head, put food on the table and pay the bills.
The payment for young people looking for work, studying or both, Youth Allowance, is also too low and in urgent need of review.
As it stands, the current rates of Newstart and Youth Allowance don’t even remotely cover the cost of life’s basic essentials. Social security should cover the support people need to get through tough times and into suitable employment. The Government must urgently address the adequacy of these payments, as well as Commonwealth Rent Assistance to address rental stress which is pushing far too many people into homelessness.
In this Budget, people receiving Newstart and Youth Allowance have even missed out on the one off Energy Assistance Payment offered to people receiving other social security payments, despite their daily struggle to make ends meet.
We are again left disappointed that people on the lowest incomes have been completely overlooked in the Budget.
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