Blind Citizens Australia’s summary of the 2018-19 federal budget

 

9th May 2018

 

The 2018-19 federal budget was released on Tuesday 8th May 2018. Blind Citizens Australia has long advocated for budget measures that support people who are blind or vision impaired and as such, the following areas may be of relevance:

National Disability Insurance Scheme

As expected, it was announced that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be fully funded in this budget, in line with the government’s plan to roll out the scheme by 2020. It was recently announced that the NDIS will be funded from existing revenue, rather than an increase in the Medicare levy.

The budget also contained some other NDIS related funding measures. This includes $92.1 million to ensure continuity of support for those who are not currently eligible for the NDIS but who are in programs to transition to the scheme.

$64.3 million will establish an NDIS Jobs and Market Fund to expand the NDIS workforce and service providers.

There is also $9.9 million in grants for Disability Employment Service (DES) providers to transition to a new reformed DES system. Almost 400,000 people with disability were placed in a job under the existing program. More than 13 per cent of people of working age have a disability, but only 53 per cent are participating in work.

Aged Care

There will be an increase in the number of home care places by 14,000 over four years at a cost of $1.6 billion. This is on top of the additional 6,000 high-level places announced in the December mid-year budget update. However, there are currently 56,850 people on the waiting list for a high-level package and 25 per cent of these aren’t receiving any interim care. Overall, there are 105,000 people waiting for an aged care package. Also funded are 13,500 residential aged care places and 775 short term “restorative” places.

  • The government has also allocated more than $60 million to make the My Aged Care website easier to use.
  • The government has announced the establishment of an Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission following reports of significant abuse and neglect in the aged care sector.
  • An additional $146 million has been included to improve access to aged care services in rural, regional and remote areas.
  • $83 million for mental health services in residential aged care facilities to help combat depression.
  • The creation of a national online register for enduring powers of attorney has also been announced.
  • The government will fund targeted programs run by local sporting organisations and community groups to encourage older Australians to remain physically active.

Mental Health

The budget shows a big investment in mental health care and services for vulnerable Australians, including in those living in regional and rural areas and older people.

  • There will be an increase of $338 million in mental health funding, focusing on suicide prevention, research and older Australians.
  • There’s also $83 million for psychological services in residential aged care, and $20 million to support isolated older Australians.
  • Some $125 million will go towards new research to support an additional 1 million people with mental illness, while there’s $38 million for support to those discharged from hospital after a suicide attempt.
  • Support services including Lifeline and SANE Australia will also receive more funding to boost crisis hotlines and a suicide awareness campaign.

Welfare

  • There was no increase to the Newstart allowance, which currently stands at $39 per day.
  • There will be compulsory deductions from welfare payments for recipients with outstanding fines or fine defaults.
  • $299 million is expected to be raised in claimed revenue by extending the welfare fraud detection and debt recovery (‘robodebt’) program into 2019-20.
  • The energy supplement, which currently saves pensioners $14 a fortnight will be cut in this budget

Education

  • Needs based funding for schools to deliver $24.5 billion more over the next 10 years.
  • Schools to receive $18.7 billion, with a legislated rise to around $30 billion in 2027.
  • National Schools Chaplaincy program extended with a focus on anti-bullying.
  • Universal access to early childhood education will be extended for a year costing $440 million.

Communications

There has been no announcement around the funding of audio description on Australian TV. There is no mention of audio description on the Communications and the Arts portfolio budget statements, as published on their website on 8th May 2018.

Blind Citizens Australia will continue to lobby government to advocate for the rights of people who are blind or vision impaired, in response to budget and policy statements.