Federal Budget fails to deliver on the promise of social inclusion

12/05/2010

The 2010 Federal Budget has failed to deliver on the Government’s promise of social inclusion, according to Catholic Social Services Australia’s Executive Director Frank Quinlan.

Centacare Catholic Social Services (Diocese of Parramatta) is one of 65 member organisations represented by Catholic Social Services Australia. All tolled, this membership provides services to more than a million people each year in remote, regional and metropolitan Australia.

Speaking at Parliament House on Budget Night 2010 on 11 May, Mr Quinlan said that prior to the last election, the current Government had promised a society that was “more inclusive and did more to support its most vulnerable members.”

“Tonight’s budget delivered very little to vulnerable Australians,” Mr Quinlan said.

”We have been asking for increased incomes for the poor, especially the unemployed. The Newstart allowance and other benefits are too low and trap many people in poverty. Tonight’s budget fails to deliver even modest increases to the Newstart allowance. We renew our calls for an Independent Entitlements Commission to make objective recommendations regarding the level of adequate payments from government.

Mr Quinlan said the budget failed to deliver opportunities to those long-term unemployed who are unlikely to gain work without intensive support programs and intermediate labour market programs.

“We fear that as the economy now begins to grow, there is a risk that some Australians will be left behind. This is what happened with previous recessions," he said.

“The previous budget made an historic investment in social housing and homelessness, but this budget fails to sustain that momentum forward. As housing affordability declines, government must increase its support for those facing higher rents and higher levels of mortgage stress.

“Measures in tonight’s budget go some way to strengthening the level of clinical support for those living with mental illness, but much, much more is needed. We desperately need a National Mental Health Initiative that includes community based mental health care and support, delivered by community based workers and agencies.”

Mr Quinlan said across its network, Catholic Social Services agencies are facing increased demand for services.

“They are also experiencing an increase in the competition for skilled workers,” he said. “The Productivity Commission Report and the Henry Review have made many recommendations to support the sector, but this budget takes no action. In addition, many more services could be delivered if government red tape was reduced across all our programs.

“Catholic Social Services Australia is also concerned that cuts to the Family Relationships Services program will see troubled families with less support when they most need it.”


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