The 2019 budget was handed down by Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, with forecasts of a A$7.1 billion surplus, tax cuts and very importantly, delivering on their promise, and highly welcomed, $328 million package towards family violence and protection, $700 million to mental health with $461 million to young people and $84 million in support for carers.
The funding is a welcome announcement with a concerted move towards boosting preventative services across the nation. But at what cost has it come and how much ground do we need to make up for the years gone by?
Scott Morrison has announced a $78 million family violence package in a renewed plan to address family violence and violence against women. A federal investment of $60 million will be dedicated to emergency housing for women and children, to protect them from family violence, and an additional $18 million on State and Territory programs to allow women and children to stay in their own homes where possible.
The plans announced on the 2nd April budget will be formalised within each individual State and Territory in the latter half of 2019. This funding is part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children, originally developed a decade ago and in its 4th phase of renewal in 2019.
The federal investment will be split over three years with grants to build up to 450 places to house over 6500 people per year. There will also be the opportunity for co-funding from individual States and Not-For-Profits. The $18 million State and Territory funding will go towards the existing scheme that has helped more than 5200 women and children over the past three years with security upgrades to their homes.
The need for increased child protection on a global scale has never been more evident. A Pre-Budget Submission Report compiled by Save the Children Australia, states 76% of children aged between 1 and 14 experience physical and humiliating punishment at home, with the common perpetrators being those known to them, either parents or caregivers. Another staggering 6 in 10 children aged between 12 and 23 months are subjected to verbal and physical abuse.
The $1 billion funding boost to primary care comes with a much needed $461 million youth mental health package and $114.5 adult headspace trial. Headspace’s current services for young people will be expanded with an additional $263.3 million over seven years with funding for the opening of 30 new centres and a reduction in wait times. Additionally, the total Headspace funding will triple to $42.6 million over the next three years with the total number of centres growing to 145.
The need for mental health funding comes at a time of dire need, where wait lists for children to see psychologists are currently anywhere between 8 to 12 weeks. A welcome $4.6 million has also been announced for the building of four new Headspace satellite services in rural areas.
$84.3 million over four years has been announced to expand the Integrated Carer Support service, providing carers with access to early intervention, preventative and skill-building supports that aim to improve carers well-being and long-term outcomes. The new system is due to roll out in October 2019, with Carers Australia dubious about the adequacy of funding to provide the required services. Carers Australia, the National Peak body representing those who provide unpaid care and support to family members with a disability, chronic condition or mental or terminal illness recommend in their 2019-20 budget submission, that following any allocated funding, a full independent review of the Integrated Care Support System be undertaken to evaluate its effectiveness in reaching its aims.
THE NEED FOR SKILLED SOCIAL CARE WORKERS IN MENTAL HEALTH AND FAMILY VIOLENCE SECTORS
With the announced funding towards these key sectors, the need for skilled social workers specialising in these critical areas has never been stronger. Four out of five of the 32, 900 workers in the industry hold a Bachelor’s degree, placing them as highly skilled workers in a strong growth rate industry. The flexibility of study means people can study whilst they hold down full-time jobs with the flexibility of online study. Open Universities assists in providing a range of online Social Work Bachelor Courses that can be completed via online study.
Australia needs skilled and qualified Social Care workers and Mental Health Clinicians to help implement the allocated funding in mental health and family violence sectors. There is only so far money can go without the human resources leading the way.
Limelight People are passionate about working with organisations supporting our vulnerable populations. We are on hand to offer support and advice around workforce planning and hard to fill roles. We are also always keen to speak to dedicated professionals in the field looking for new employment opportunities and want to be part of your new chapter.