One of Australia’s largest not-for-profit community services providers, Uniting Vic.Tas, today welcomed additional funding in the 2021-22 Federal Budget for aged care, mental health, disability, and family violence services, but argued it was a missed opportunity to address the affordable housing crisis.
Uniting Vic.Tas CEO Bronwyn Pike said the additional support for some community services was much needed, but more could have been done to support the homeless and those living below the poverty line.
“The additional 80,000 Home Care Packages will support more older people to continue to live independently in their own home,” she said.
“We are also pleased the government has provided funding for new mental health initiatives and a range of programs that directly support women and children who have been subjected to family violence.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic demand for all our services increased significantly including a 36 per cent increase in referrals to our Men’s Behaviour Change programs in just a six-month period, so additional funding for these services was long overdue.”
Ms Pike said more could have been done in the Budget for people on income support or the two million Australians who are unemployed or underemployed.
“We still believe the Government needs to raise the Jobseeker payment to a rate which affords people a basic standard of living,” Ms Pike said.
“We’re disappointed there was no new funding for social housing or making housing more affordable.
“Affordable housing is about more than just providing a roof over someone’s head. It gives people a launchpad to help them escape the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage.
“We support the measures to make childcare more affordable, but the cost is still a significant barrier, especially for many low-income families.
“As a provider of Lifeline and mental health services, we’re also pleased with the new funding for mental health counselling clinics and the establishment of a National Suicide Prevention Office.”