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Not enough to fix broken aged care and mental health systems, fails to address poverty

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 11 May 2021

“This budget is a surplus of scatter gun approaches and tinkering around the edges. 
“This is a budget that continues the ongoing disdain this Government has for people who have been doing it tough for a long time and for whom things have only got worse due to the global pandemic and recession: people on income support, older women, young people, single parents and disabled people.
“Despite entrenched poverty in this country, budget after budget fails to address it and charities and the not for profit sector are left to pick up the pieces under increasing strain.
“A strong social safety net and great public services are the absolute bedrock of ensuring equality and opportunity for all. Budgets should prioritise this. 
“This Budget provides $213 million to “strengthen” mutual obligations - more money to punish, threaten and bully people. 
“Jobactive is failing and a cash cow for job providers to make money out of an unemployment industry.

"The Government is now making savings by transitioning to digital services instead of injecting funding into and transforming the systems to provide more targeted, individualised personal support.
“The home deposit scheme for single parents is a joke. So many single parents are living in poverty, the vast majority can’t even comprehend saving for a house. How out of touch is this Government! 
“I’m very pleased the Government has finally scrapped the racist and punitive Community Development Program which has entrenched poverty in rural and remote regions. 
“We will be following closely to ensure that the Minister is true to his intention in the budget papers to co-design the new Remote Jobs Program with First Nations communities.  

“$17 billion over 4 years is not enough to fix our broken aged care system. The sector needs $10 billion per year. 

“There is a lack of serious intent by this Government to transform aged care and increase transparency and accountability. 
“There is no guarantee of better care unless there is proper accountability and transparency in this sector.

"We will end up back in the same place we are today if we don’t start this process by putting proper safeguards in place. 
“The Royal Commission was also very clear that investment in staff is a significant part of fixing this crisis but where is the workforce strategy and it’s frankly insulting that there is not a pay increase for aged care workers.
“How do we expect to attract the additional 70,000 aged care workers that we need without increased wages? 
“The approach to mental health is scatter gun and piecemeal, with not enough long-term vision and structural reform.  Everyone should be able to access mental health treatment and support when and where they need it. This investment is not enough to achieve this. We will still have a rationed system.
“This Government claims to be concerned about mental health but their commitments ring hollow if they cannot even give people living on the JobSeeker payment the dignity to live above the poverty line or address the underlying causes of mental ill health like affordable housing. 
“There is no measure in this budget to ensure that mental health care is accessible and affordable to people on low incomes who at the moment are struggling to access basic services." 

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