Catholic Social Services Australia says while the 2020-21 Commonwealth Budget delivers a financial boost for some, the country’s most vulnerable will again find themselves asking, “What hope for me?”
“With hundreds of thousands of Australians struggling to find work or not able to access enough hours of work, they’ll be left to ponder how they will walk their individual path through the pandemic’s aftermath,” said CSSA chief executive officer Ursula Stephens.
“Billions of dollars in tax cuts will help some people, but those cuts won’t help those who can’t find work and who appear destined to return to unsustainably low welfare payments.
“We’re particularly concerned about workers aged 55 and over – some of whom may never work again.”
Dr Stephens said Pope Francis, in his encyclical released last weekend, called for political, economic and social decisions to be assessed based on how they support vulnerable people.
“Using that yardstick, we can’t give the Government a passing grade based on the Budget the Treasurer delivered [last night],” she said.
Dr Stephens said there were some modest measures to support affordable housing, but much-needed funding for social housing projects was absent.
“In a similar way, 23,000 additional home care packages delivered in aged care helps, but with tens of thousands more older Australians on the waiting list, this is placing a bandaid on a gaping wound.”
Dr Stephens said the news of $2 billion in additional concessional loans for drought-stricken farmers will be welcomed – although that assumes those living on the land will be able to repay the loans.
Additional funding for mental health services, financial counselling and domestic violence support, which have been in great demand during the pandemic, will also help.
Dr Stephens said the overall sentiment from the 2020-21 Budget is one of opportunities missed.
Budget leaves many asking ‘what hope for me?’ (Catholic Social Services Australia)