Catholic agencies and partners like the Refugee Council of Australia have responded to the 2021-2022 Federal Budget. The budget was handed down by the Morrison Federal Government on the 11th of May.
While Catholic Health Australia and the National Catholic Education Commission welcome government initiatives and new spending, Caritas Australia and the Refugee Council of Australia expressed disappointment with the 2021-2022 budget.
$1.6 billion in funding went to Early Childhood learning with $63.5 million to support ‘gender equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls’ through funding 2,700 additional placements for students in girl academies which will help provide culturally-appropriate support.
National Catholic Education Executive Director Jacinta Collins spoke of the government’s support of Early Childhood saying, “We know that quality early learning plays a key role in preparing children for a good start to school and we look forward to working with the government on identifying areas of reform to support increased preschool attendance and school readiness.”
Catholic Health Australia welcomed the Federal Government’s response to the Royal Commission in Aged Care as the government accepted 126 of the Royal Commission’s 148 recommendations. $17.7 billion will mean more Australians can be cared for in their homes, have more care time and provide more training and incentives for carers to stay in the sector.
“After 20 government reviews in 20 years, this Budget, and the government’s response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations, finally addressed many of the challenges facing aged care,” a statement from Catholic Health Australia read.
Mr Pat Garcia, CEO of Catholic Health Australia explained, “These are large commitments, and we urge the Government to deliver on the timetable for reform.” The Royal Commission into Aged Care found horrendous cases of neglect and abuse in Aged Care and this funding is a welcome to relief for many Australians.
Refugee and Asylum Seeker Policy
The Refugee Council of Australia, of which the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Office of Social Justice is a member, highlighted these key points:
- Costs for onshore detention and compliance blew out to over $1.279 billion in one year’s spending.
- Places for the Refugee and Humanitarian Program will be capped at 13,750 places a year until 2024-25, a cut from previous years. By July 2021, RCOA estimates 10,000 people granted permanent visas under Humanitarian program will be stuck overseas unable to settle in Australia.
- The allocation for settlement support was unexpectedly increased after an underspend in settlement services in 2020-2021. Funding will be cut from $35.1 million to $33.3 million a year when it was estimated to be $19.6 million in 2021-2022.
- Additional funding will go the Migration and Refugee Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to address the backlog of cases there.
- Refugee women and other migrant women’s safety and social and economic inclusion programs will receive additional funding to support survivors of family violence.
Global poverty and COVID-19 response
Caritas Australia was disappointed that, in a time when the number of people facing abject poverty in the world will increase for the first time in many years, there were limited new commitments in aid.
CEO of Caritas Australia, Kirsty Robertson said, “Over the past year we have welcomed vital injections of cash and support to fight COVID-19, particularly in the Pacific and Asia where cases and deaths are rising alarmingly.
“This rapid response was crucial, and in many cases lifesaving, but we can’t afford to decrease the overall assistance now. At a time of increasing hunger, unemployment and poverty globally, we need to step up and prevent further loss of life, and not just from COVID-19.
“If not now, when?”
Caritas Australia is disappointed that the Australian Government has not increased funding to Africa and the Middle East where communities are facing similar challenges as in our region.
For full responses to the 2021-2020 Federal budget go here:
Caritas Australia: Click here
Catholic Health Australia: Click here
National Catholic Education Commission: Click here
Refugee Council of Australia: Click here