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Budget 2015-16: Lacks a sense of direction

May 13, 2015, 09:00 AM by Anglicare Australia

This year’s Budget lacks direction, according Anglicare Australia’s Executive Director, Kasy Chambers.

“There’s widespread relief among services working with the most vulnerable Australians that the initiatives in this year’s Budget are likely to make life better rather than worse,” Ms Chambers said.

“We see that most clearly in some of the government’s innovative responses to young job seekers, which take a person-first rather than work-first approach to exclusion from the workforce. This reinforces the view across the Anglicare network that constructive economic policy is inclusive social policy too.

“But sadly when all added up, it’s pretty clear that this is – nonetheless – a Budget that lacks direction. Our biggest problems remain unaddressed, and despite the innovations in childcare and employment, in this scattergun approach there are too many Australians who are being left behind.

“People simply can’t get by on Newstart or the Youth Allowance. Whether it is living as a single person or a family, inadequate income leaves people anxious, unhealthy, often hungry, and much less able to find work.

“Even some of the more positive developments seem to have a sting in the tail. New childcare arrangements promise to make life simpler for many when they finally come into force in 2017. However, single parents who are out of work may lose some of their invaluable family tax benefit and their children miss out on the early childhood education that can make such a difference to their lives.

“We note there was no commitment to addressing the critical national shortage of affordable housing for people on low incomes despite the improved work or training packages government might be able to offer. Without a secure and affordable home, people continually find themselves trapped out of work, out of school and increasingly unwell.

“Similarly, although it’s widely acknowledged that we need to take action together on mental health, there’s absolutely nothing in the Budget but talk about a plan. We also note this Budget includes another large cut to international aid and no greater commitment to action on climate change.

“The notion of taking a wider responsibility for those whose voice is least often heard is really the part that is missing in this whole Budget story.”