This year’s budget is much more balanced.

CEO Social Justice Blog

Last night’s budget was a relief for most of us working in the welfare sector following the shock of last year’s effort. Several of Mr Hockey’s proposals last year would have increased the poverty of those Australians living on low incomes in a country which has enjoyed 20 years of sustained economic growth.

This year’s budget is much more balanced.

We support the proposed changes to Child Care and see these changes as a step in the right direction. The proposals will ensure that child care in the future will be more affordable for low and middle income families. This is encouraging as good quality child care is really important and we will need further reforms in years to come.

It is interesting to compare our child care policies to those of the UK, which has experienced extreme welfare cutbacks in recent years. In the UK all three and four year olds have free full time child care, and if children come from a disadvantaged home, free child care starts at the age of two. So in the UK policy makers have realised the importance of early learning education and activities for preschool aged children, if they are to develop to their full potential.

Also encouraging in last night’s budget are the changes to support services for young people with additional needs who are unemployed. In a time of rapidly increasing unemployment across our region we need to do more to help people who are unemployed, particularly in areas such as job subsidies and work experience in real jobs.

We also support the assistance given to small business, as many small business owners in our region exist on very low incomes.

The glaring omission of last night’s budget is any sort of policy addressing the critical issue of housing affordability and availability to those on low incomes. Unless we address this critical issue, we will never overcome the crisis of homelessness across our region.