Budget designed to secure a political future, not the future of Australia’s most vulnerable

14 May 2015

By Mat De Sousa

Speaking on budget night, CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia Marcelle Mogg pointed out that many of the key measures in the 2015 Federal Budget, such as the childcare subsidy, are not scheduled to take effect until 1 July 2017. PHOTO: Supplied

Catholic Social Services Australia released a statement this week about the 2015 Federal Budget, saying that, despite its commitment to listen to the community in light of its very unfair 2014 budget, the government has taken the approach of making itself as small a target as possible by deferring its critical 2015 budget measures until after the next federal election.

Speaking on budget night, CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia Marcelle Mogg pointed out that many of the key measures in the 2015 Federal Budget, such as the childcare subsidy, are not scheduled to take effect until 1 July 2017.

“While deferring key budget measures might enable the Abbott government to see out the remainder of its current term in calmer political waters, for Australia’s most vulnerable people, it represents a lost opportunity,” Ms Mogg said.

“Those who are homeless, those with mental illness, and women and children living in the midst of family violence, need assistance now. This budget offers them little hope.

“Funding for family violence is directed to one-off education campaigns, rather than practical support and initiatives.

“There is no commitment at all from the federal government for initiatives that create affordable housing or further homelessness services. The budget is silent on mental health initiatives.

“The most vulnerable people in Australia will pay the price for the failure of the Coalition to exercise its mandate to govern. This is a budget designed to secure a political future, not the future of Australia’s most vulnerable people.

“The Abbott government has missed a significant opportunity to invest in communities, families and individuals, and thereby strengthen social cohesion, participation and wellbeing, and increase economic productivity.

“Catholic Social Services Australia continues to urge the government to focus on investing in people, in families and in communities in order to realise long-term social and economic benefits, rather than seeking short-term cost savings.

“Australians are looking for a sustained commitment from the Australian government to creating strong communities. Strong communities are the foundation for a strong economy,” said Ms Mogg.

Catholic Social Services Australia believes the best financial investments that Australia can make lie in securing support for families, young people and those who are living on the margins of our communities.

“Strong communities provide great support for vulnerable families and individuals. Strong communities can blunt the worst effects of poverty and what this budget proposes fails to capitalise on Australia’s greatest resource – its people,” said Ms Mogg.

“We know that securing employment today in Australia is a complex undertaking. Finding out about available jobs often relies on personal networking, and securing and sustaining that employment is reliant upon appropriate skills and training, as well as access to affordable child care and viable transport arrangements. Barriers to employment are not about attitude; they are about opportunity. To this end, Catholic Social Services Australia welcomes the government’s restoration of funding for intensive support services for young people at risk of long-term unemployment – the Youth Employment Strategy – following its cut to the Youth Connections program in 2014. The restoration of this service is a welcome recognition by the government that young people need support, not penalties.

“People want to be able to work and secure a sound financial base for their families, but they should not have to sacrifice their family life in order to have a job. Family-friendly jobs are those that don’t rely on mums and dads working unsociable hours that take them away from the families they love. Family-friendly jobs are not those across town, or interstate, that see mums and dads spending more time in transit than with their children. Children want their parents to be at sport with them on the weekends, and to see their families’ faces in the audience on school concert night. An economy that only offers jobs based on low wages, short-term contracts and unsociable hours are not jobs that build a strong Australia.

“Catholic Social Services Australia is deeply concerned at the lack of policy and direction at a federal level with regard to housing and homelessness services. While recognising that the government intends to address housing through its reform of the Federation White Paper process, it is not acceptable that government adopts a ‘wait and see’ stance in the interim.

“Catholic housing and homeless support agencies are working hard to meet the needs of people who are homeless today, and the urgency to secure safe and affordable housing on a continuing basis is critical.

“This government said it wants to focus on reducing family violence in Australia. Providing access for women and their children to safe and secure housing alternatives must be a core part of the government’s response. Community education is a welcome initiative but it won’t help people in need today.”