UnitingCare Australia Budget response: Labor’s found its mojo
UnitingCare Australia welcomed the 2011 Federal Budget and says it’s a carefully crafted, considered effort that will help people trapped on welfare find jobs and a more secure financial future.
National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said the winner this year with a $2.2 billion package is mental health. With $1.5 billion in new money the Government has delivered in spades on one of its core election promises.
“The national mental health reform package focuses on resourcing support for people in their community. It includes $600 million to expand mental health services in the community with a single point of contact where people can access a full range of supports from therapeutic care to housing and job security.
“People on disability payments, parents, and young people will be able to work more hours and still keep their payment.
“Overall the workforce participation package is solid.
“There’s a comprehensive range of initiatives and supports to help jobless families, long term unemployed, teen parents and people on the disability pension get the skills they need to find a job. Complementary initiatives encourage employers to take a chance on an unemployed Australian.
“But demand will outstrip supply.
“While wages subsidies are welcome and will be effective, there are 350,000 long term unemployed and only 10,000 wage subsidies. Getting off welfare and into work will still be a bit of a lottery, but it’s a solid start.
“The losers in this year’s Budget are those who have been shifted from one payment to another at a lower rate. People moving from parenting payment to Newstart will lose $60 a week and people moving from Newstart to Youth Allowance will lose $40 a week.
“This is only an issue because welfare payments are too low to live on.
“There is no evidence that tough compliance measures get more people into work. Suspending payments does little to engage most people who are genuinely in need of support and services.
“Overall the Budget provides a good platform for sharing the benefits of the boom with more Australians.”