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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2009–10  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/06/2010   
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Contents >> Income and welfare >> Income and community support

INCOME AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Information in this section was contributed by the Australian Government Departments of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; Veterans' Affairs; Health and Ageing; Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Attorney-General's Department.

The websites listed at the end of this chapter contain additional information about programs provided by the Australian Government.


Overview

Australian governments, at all levels, provide support payments that reduce social exclusion and, through a range of programs, provide opportunities for people to contribute to economic growth and the community. Programs have changed over time to meet ongoing changes in family structures, the labour market and the structural ageing of the population. Policies aim to encourage active social and economic participation by members of society within an individual’s capacity, redress disadvantage by boosting self-reliance, and provide assistance to those who are unable to support themselves.

Early intervention, prevention and capacity building strengthen individuals, families and communities, increase workforce participation and economic productivity, and ultimately boost retirement incomes.

The Australian Government and state and territory governments have in place a range of reforms with the aim of closing the gap in life outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (see
Indigenous Disadvantage and Selected Measures of Wellbeing in this edition of Year Book Australia). Different strategies are often needed for individual communities in urban, rural and remote areas.

For people of working age, policies aim to find new ways to address disadvantage, remove barriers to workforce participation, increase opportunities, build capacity and ensure that services are accessible and provide effective support for all. Education, training and workforce participation are fundamental to the Australian Government's goal of building a productive and fairer Australia.

For families, social and economic participation is facilitated by early intervention services, a strong child-care sector and assistance with the cost of child care. Family policies promote healthy relationships, protection of at-risk children and parenting self-efficacy. Reforms, including those relating to child support and family breakdown, identify the responsibilities of both parents. Children and young people are encouraged to reach their potential and to participate with their families and community. Women’s social and economic participation is supported by initiatives to improve safety, eliminate violence and encourage leadership.

For older Australians, social and economic participation is facilitated by adequate income in retirement. This is addressed through a combination of the Age Pension and related non-cash benefits, compulsory superannuation and other private savings, including voluntary superannuation and home ownership. Tax and superannuation changes create incentives for older people to continue participating in the workforce.

Frail older Australians and people with disability, including mental illness and autism, are encouraged to participate in community life and to access available community and residential care services appropriate to their assessed needs. For carers, there is government and community support available and recognition that caring can be emotionally and physically challenging.

For the veteran community, service is acknowledged through provision of income support, compensation and rehabilitation, care and commemoration programs.

For communities, engagement is encouraged through partnerships between individuals, families, business, government and welfare and charitable organisations. A strong community sector and high levels of volunteering provide opportunities for individuals to participate in their communities and to engage and support others.

A number of organisations are involved in service delivery. Centrelink delivers services to over 6.5 million customers on behalf of 25 policy agencies. The Family Assistance Office enables families to obtain their family payments in one place. The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) delivers services to the veteran community. The tax system delivers Family Tax Benefits, rebates and offsets. Non-government organisations deliver many services with Commonwealth funding, including family relationship services, financial literacy programs and support for people with a disability.

Australia’s responses to economic and social change occur within the context of a federal system that has significant redistributive elements and is underpinned by access to core services including health, education and community services, as well as a strong safety net of income support payments. Responses occur in a complex global environment, where individuals may live, work and accrue entitlements in more than one country and international social security agreements share responsibility to close gaps in their social security coverage.

Income support

The largest component of welfare is the income support provided by the Australian Government. Over 4.2 million people, or more than one in five individuals, are direct beneficiaries of income support payments at any one time.

Australia’s income support system has undergone significant reform in recent years, including responding to the 2008-09 global economic recession and significant reforms to reduce welfare dependency and promote workforce participation. Broadly, the reforms aim to deliver payments to those who are most disadvantaged while encouraging those who can work to do so.

Pension reforms introduced from September 2009 increased adequacy and flexibility of payments while keeping pensions sustainable.

Expenditure on the main income support payments and benefits are listed in table 9.9.

9.9 EXPENDITURE ON MAJOR INCOME SUPPORT PAYMENTS AND BENEFITS(a)(b)

2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09
$'000
$'000
$'000
$'000

FAMILIES AND CHILDREN

Family assistance
Family Tax Benefit - Centrelink payments(c)
13 534 246
14 042 785
14 143 858
17 258 654
Family Assistance Legislative Amendment (More Help for Families - 'One-off' payments)
. .
. .
. .
. .
Family Assistance Scheme
22 697
2 310
..
..
Maternity Allowance(d)(e)
. .
13
..
..
Maternity Immunisation Allowance(d)
49 843
56 234
61 290
50 411
Baby Bonus (Previously named Maternity Payment)
855 039
1 161 616
1 213 174
1 450 337
Double Orphan Pension
2 669
2 835
3 038
3 225
Child care(f)
Child Care Benefit
1 501 287
1 478 333
1 863 500
2 103 048
Jobs Education and Training (JET) Child Care fee assistance
21 658
43 035
15 604
27 356
Child Care Tax Rebate
. .
450 734
452 912
1 185 064

CARERS

Carers
Carer Payment(g)
1 220 828
1 408 052
1 690 889
1 938 825
Carer Allowance(g)(h)
1 258 397
1 349 030
1 591 330
1 801 012

SENIORS

Seniors(i)
Age Pension
20 588 124
22 598 475
24 577 319
28 098 263
Aged Persons Savings Bonus
4
2
. .
. .
'One-off' Payment to Seniors
. .
. .
. .
. .
Self-Funded Retirees' Supplementary Bonus
23
21
. .
. .
Seniors Bonus
. .
. .
1 400 000
. .
Telephone Allowance for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Holders(g)
18 591
11 867
16 538
18 185
Utilities Allowance(g)
288 109
146 821
630 261
1 172 662
Seniors Concession Allowance(g)
93 420
225 781
235 232
465 352
Widow Class B Pension
6 491
3 689
5 805
7 204
Wife Pension (Age)
173 127
160 810
165 664
157 611
Wife Pension (DSP)
258 497
233 633
224 861
209 135

SPECIAL BENEFIT AND BEREAVEMENT

Special Benefit
75 042
67 153
64 091
65 251
Bereavement Allowance
1 079
1 421
1 978
2 885

WORKING AGE

Working age payments
Newstart Allowance
4 527 720
4 493 978
4 180 817
4 885 930
Parenting Payment
6 048 303
5 913 090
5 392 742
5 296 419
Mature Age Allowance
162 667
87 831
28 939
840
Partner Allowance
599 088
522 075
431 064
375 971
Widow Allowance
492 836
505 342
480 081
508 317
Pensioner Education Supplement
78 550
73 489
69 795
69 562
Disability Support Pension
8 256 566
8 651 399
9 370 000
10 918 000
Mobility Allowance
95 872
106 371
114 070
118 546
Sickness Allowance
85 415
85 191
83 363
92 580

YOUTH AND STUDENTS

Youth and students
Youth Allowance(j)
2 101 265
2 073 725
2 036 141
2 500 764
Austudy
217 765
217 540
227 894
353 500
ABSTUDY
154 973
155 603
157 934
191 026

VETERANS

Income Support Program(k)
Service Pension
2 495 893
2 573 523
2 592 861
2 848 721
Income Support Supplement
328 315
336 747
356 299
350 299
Compensation Program(k)
Disability Support Pension (DSP)
1 327 420
1 346 811
1 416 830
1 458 536
War Widow(er)/ Orphan Pensions
1 542 538
1 588 730
1 636 177
1 674 177
Economic Security Strategy payment to Pensioners, Seniors, Carers and people with a disability
. .
. .
. .
4 900 000

ALL MAJOR INCOME SUPPORT PAYMENTS AND BENEFITS

Total(l)
68 484 357
72 176 095
76 932 351
92 557 668

. . not applicable
(a) Outlays on pensions, allowances and Family Tax Benefits include expenditure on Commonwealth Rent Assistance. Details of rent assistance are included in the Housing chapter.
(b) Negative values are recoveries from previous years.
(c) This does not include payments made by the Australian Taxation Office.
(d) Expenditure on Maternity Allowance prior to 2003-04 includes Maternity Immunisation Allowance.
(e) Payments of Maternity Allowance ceased in 2004-05, as they were replaced by the Maternity Payment.
(f) 2007-08 Child Care data is a combination of part year data from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
(g) Includes 'one-off' bonus payments in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 for the Carer payments, and in 2005-06 for Utilities and Seniors Concession Allowances.
(h) Carer Allowance was introduced on 1 July 1999. It combined Child Disability Allowance with Domicilliary Nursing Care Benefit, which was the responsibility of the Department of Health and Ageing.
(i) Pharmaceutical Allowance and Remote Area Allowance have not been added as expenditure for these items cannot be separately.
(j) Youth Allowance is composed of an allowance for full-time or part-time students (Youth Allowance (students)) and unemployed young people (Youth Allowance (other)). Both are administered by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
(k) Previously published DVA figures for Service Pension, Income Support Supplement, Disability Pension and War Widow(er)/Orphan Pensions for 2006-07 have been updated.
(l) Total is for the above programs only and does not include some minor income support payments.identified.
Source: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Department of Veterans' Affairs, Department of Health and Ageing.

Details of the maximum rates for major income support payments are listed in table 9.10.

9.10 Maximum fortnightly rates for main Income Support payments(a) - 2008-2009

2008
2009
$
$

Austudy (single, no children)
355.40
371.40
Carer Allowance
100.60
105.10
Disability Pension (DVA)
General Rate
344.80
359.50
Extreme Disablement Adjustment (EDA)
535.60
558.50
Intermediate Rate
658.50
68.60
Special Rate (TPI)
970.50
1 011.90
FTB Part A (for 1 child <13)(b)
145.46
151.34
FTB Part B (youngest child <5)(b)
125.02
128.80
Newstart (single, no children)
437.10
453.30
Pensions (single)(c)
546.80
569.80
Parenting Payment Partnered
394.40
409.00
Rent Assistance (single with 3 or more children)
142.38
147.56
War widow's pension (DVA)
582.40
607.00
Income Support Supplement (DVA)
163.20
170.20
Youth Allowance (18 and over, at home)
233.90
244.40
Child Care Benefit-approved care (non-school age, one child)
3.37/hr
3.47/hr

(a) Not a complete list of Income Support payments. Rates for couples are not included.
(b) FTB supplement is not included.
(c) Maximum rate for age pension, disability support pension, parenting payment (sole parents) and service pension.
Source: Centrelink, A Guide to Australian Government Payments, 20 March - 30 June 2009 and 20 March - 30 June 2009, Department of Veterans' Affairs.



Seniors

Australia’s approach for retirement incomes combines an affordable basis for generating retirement incomes with targeted support for those who most need assistance. The retirement incomes framework comprises three pillars:

  • The Age Pension provides a publicly funded minimum level of income in retirement, which is not based on past contributions or previous earnings, but is based on current level of financial need. Retirees, who do not meet the means test requirements for the Age Pension, may be eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
  • The Superannuation Guarantee, compulsory employer superannuation contributions of 9% of earnings, provides a framework for retirement savings. The Superannuation Guarantee has been operating since 1992, with the 9% minimum contribution in place since 2002. By around the year 2042, people who have had the full 9 per cent superannuation guarantee across their working life will start to retire (assuming a 40 year working life).
  • Voluntary superannuation saving and other forms of savings and investment, the most significant typically being owner-occupied homes, enhance retirement savings.

The Age Pension is the main form of income support for seniors and a significant proportion of seniors access the payment. The Age Pension is means tested on income and assets, and currently men qualify for Age Pension at 65 years. Women’s qualifying age is currently 64 and will reach 65 by 2014. Further information about changes to the qualifying age for the Age Pension are outlined as part of the pension reform information below.

Wife Pension and Widow B Pension closed to new claimants in the 1990s, as these dependency-based payments are at odds with active participation by women of workforce age.

Supplementary assistance is provided to eligible recipients through Remote Area Allowance, Telephone Allowance, Utilities Allowance, Pharmaceutical Allowance, and Concession cards.

From 20 September 2009, comprehensive pension reforms were introduced to improve the adequacy of the pension and its sustainability into the future. Pension rates were increased and the maximum single base rate of pension was raised to two thirds of the partnered rate. Income test rules have been changed to better target those with the lowest incomes, with transitional arrangements for those who received a pension prior to 20 September 2009. A new income test concession (Work Bonus) was introduced for employment income, while the Pension Bonus Scheme was closed to new entrants. From 2017, the Age Pension age will gradually increase from 65 to 67 by 2023.

The reforms also introduced new indexation arrangements to better reflect the cost of living increases experienced by pensioners. The Age Pension is now indexed by the greater of the movement in the Consumer Price Index or the new Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (see Chapter 29 Prices of this edition of Year Book Australia for further information). Also, the maximum single rate of pension benchmark to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings increased, from 25 per cent to an effective 27.7 per cent, in March 2010 and to 41.76 per cent for couples combined.

The number of age pensioners and the expenditure on the Age Pensions is shown in table 9.11.
9.11 AGE PENSIONERS(a)

2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09

Males no.
800 310
815 912
868 179
906 769
Females no.
1 121 819
1 136 774
1 171 126
1 210 761
Persons no.
1 922 129
1 952 686
2 039 305
2 117 530
Total payments $'000
20 588 124
22 598 475
24 577 319
28 098 263

(a) Numbers are for June and include age pension recipients paid by Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Source: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.



Aged care

Aged care policies aim to help people remain healthy and be able to participate in their community. One in four people aged 70 years and over makes some use of aged care. While most remain in their own home and use community care, one in ten uses a residential care facility. In 2007, the Australian Government announced a $1.6 billion package of aged care reforms.

Assessment for aged care

Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs) ensure that access to aged care services is based on care needs. Individuals must be assessed as eligible and approved by an ACAT before their care can be subsidised by the Australian Government. In 2008-09 the Australian Government provided $72.3m to state and territory governments for the operation of 115 ACATs.

Places and funding

Aged care places are allocated in proportion to the number of people aged 70 years and older. Allocation takes account of people with special needs, including people from Indigenous communities. Table 9.12 shows the number of operational aged care places at 30 June in each of the years from 2006 to 2009. There were 223,107 operational aged care places at 30 June 2008, equating to a ratio of 111.4 places per 1,000 people aged 70 years or older. There were 257,978 places allocated at 30 June 2009. The Australian Government’s expenditure on aged care in 2008-09 was $9.1b (this includes expenditure by the Department of Veteran's Affairs (DVA) on residential aged care).

9.12 OPERATIONAL AGED CARE PLACES(a)

2002-03
2003-04
2004-05
2005-06
2006-07

Transition care
. .
. .
. .
595
1 594
Community care(b)
27 850
29 779
32 588
38 492
42 316
Residential care
150 786
156 056
161 165
165 782
169 594
Total
178 636
185 835
193 753
204 869
213 504

. . not applicable
(a) As at 30 June; includes flexible care places attributed as residential or community care.
(b) Includes Community Aged Care Packages and, from 2003-04, Extended Aged Care at Home Packages.

Transition care

The Transition Care Program is a jointly funded program that assists older people when they are discharged from hospital. Services include therapy, social work, case management, nursing support and/or personal care. The program helps older people, who would otherwise be eligible for residential care, complete their restorative process and optimise their functional capacity, while assisting them and their family or carer to make long-term care arrangements. Transition care can be provided in either a home-like residential setting or in the community.

Care in the community

Most older people want to remain in their own homes as long as possible - close to family and friends, and the shops, churches and activities, with which they are familiar. Community care maximises their independence and assists them and their families and carers where necessary through practical support. Assistance with activities of daily life may include, for example, shopping, bathing, dressing, cooking, cleaning, gardening and home maintenance.

Three main programs provide care to people in their own homes:
  • Home and Community Care (HACC) is a joint government initiative to assist frail aged people, people with disability, and carers. HACC services assist people with lower levels of care needs than those who receive residential care or community care packages.
  • Community Aged Care Packages (CACPs) provide low level care in the home for frail older people who have complex care needs requiring planning and case management.
  • Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH) assists frail aged people with complex care needs to stay in their own homes as an alternative to high-level residential care. Typically the packages include some nursing services. EACH-D packages assist people with dementia to remain longer in the community.

Other aged care programs use flexible, or more targeted, approaches. These include multipurpose services in rural and remote areas, services provided through the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Strategy, and targeted initiatives to meet particular needs, such as dementia, incontinence, or loss of hearing or vision.

Table 9.13 shows Australian Government expenditure on selected aged care programs.

9.13 EXPENDITURE FOR SELECTED AGED CARE PROGRAMS

2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09
$m
$m
$m
$m

Community care programs
Home and Community Care (HACC) Program
857.8
928.4
1 006.7
1 094.4
Community Aged Care Packages (CACP) Program
356.6
404.8
447.8
479.7
Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH) Program
66.5
103.9
198.8
256.3
Other aged care programs
Age Care Assessment
55.6
61.5
69.3
72.3
Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged (ACHA) Program
2.7
2.7
3.5
4.3
National Respite for Carers Program (NRCP)
138.7
166.8
173.5
184.1
Commonwealth Carelink Program (CCP)
16.4
16.2
16.4
17.4
Dementia Specific Programs(a)
22.9
25.2
31.2
31.4
Day Therapy Centres
33.2
33.9
34.6
34.8
National Continence Management Strategy (NCMS)
3.5
2.5
4.2
3.8

(a) Excludes national dementia initiatives funded under NRCP.

Residential aged care

The Department of Health and Ageing subsidises and regulates residential care for frail older people. Most residential care is provided by the non-government sector, including not-for-profit and private sector providers. Targeted capital assistance is available to aged-care homes catering largely for residents with special needs or on low incomes, or located in rural and remote areas of Australia. A more detailed description is found in Chapter 10 Housing of this edition of Year Book Australia.


Veterans, members of the Australian Defence Force and their families

The Australian Government supports those who serve or have served in defence of Australia by providing compensation and income support entitlements, delivering health care and rehabilitation services, and fulfilling Australia’s commitment to remember and honour them.

Compensation payments

Compensation is paid to veterans, their war widow(er)s and their dependants for the effects of war-caused injury or disease resulting from eligible war or defence service. Injuries or diseases must have been caused or aggravated by war service or certain defence service on behalf of Australia. Rates depend on incapacity and lifestyle:
  • General Rate Disability Pension is payable to a veteran as compensation for the impairment and lifestyle effects of war or defence service.
  • Extreme Disablement Adjustment is payable to a severely incapacitated veteran who has reached 65 years of age and is not eligible to receive the Special or Intermediate Rate.
  • Intermediate Rate Pension is payable to a veteran who is only able to undertake part-time or intermittent employment up to 20 hours per week.
  • Special (Totally and Permanently Incapacitated) Rate Pension is payable to a veteran who is prevented from working more than eight hours per week.

Table 9.14 shows the number of pensioners by type and total expenditure on disability and war widow(er)s' pensions.

9.14 DISABILITY AND WAR WIDOW(ER)S’ PENSIONERS(a)

Recipient
2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09

Incapacitated veterans no.
145 546
139 727
134 311
128 146
General Rate - from 10% to 100% no.
101 399
96 174
91 057
85 630
Extreme Disablement Adjustment no.
14 259
13 582
12 946
12 137
Intermediate Rate no.
933
917
880
842
Special Rate (TPI or equivalent) no.
28 955
29 054
29 428
29 537
Wives and widows(b) no.
32 666
29 627
26 815
24 299
Children no.
131
91
49
14
War widows and widowers(c) no.
112 882
110 590
108 023
104 760
Orphans no.
222
198
193
201
Other dependants no.
517
500
485
469
Total(d) no.
290 089
278 927
268 125
256 201
Total expenditure(e)(f) $'000
2 869 958
2 935 541
3 053 007
3 132 713

(a) Number of customers in June.
(b) Wives of incapacitated veterans and widows of deceased veterans who have not died from an accepted war caused condition.
(c) Widows and widowers of deceased veterans who have died from an accepted war caused condition.
(d) The totals do not equal the sum of the components due to overlaps.
(e) Includes associated allowances.
(f) Previously published DVA total expenditure figure for 2006-07 has been updated.
Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


The Veterans' Children Education Scheme provides financial help, guidance and counselling to certain students up to 25 years of age. At June 2008, there were 3,876 beneficiaries. Total expenditure in 2007-08 was $16.8m and in June 2009 the corresponding figures were 3,750 and $15.3m respectively.

Military compensation

The DVA is responsible for providing benefits through the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) (Cwlth) for injuries and diseases related to service prior to 1 July 2004 and through the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) (Cwlth). Table 9.15 summarises activities under these Acts for 2008--09.

9.15 MILITARY COMPENSATION AND REHABILITATION SERVICE, Activities - 2008-09

2008
2009
SRCA(a)
MRCA(b)
SRCA(a)
MRCA(b)

Total lump sum and incapacity payees for 12 months
ended 30 June (incl. dependent children)
4 338
1 009
3 857
1 327
New primary injury claims received
3 327
2 450
3 469
3 180
New permanent impairment claims received
3 326
1 481
2 886
1 336
New rehabilitation referrals received
530
345
503
345
New reconsideration requests received
869
248
733
295
New applications made to the AAT(c)
190
73
170
48
All accounts paid (incl. medical household services and attendant care)
100 769
9 179
100 027
8 782

(a) Benefits paid through the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SCRA) (Cwlth).
(b) Benefits paid through the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) (Cwlth).
(c) Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


Income support for veterans

There are several income support pensions payable to veterans and their dependants:

  • Age Service Pension (ASP) is payable to male veterans with qualifying service at 60 years of age. ASP is similar to the Age Pension, but is granted five years earlier. The minimum age at which a female veteran can be granted ASP is progressively rising from 55 to 60 years in six-monthly increments every two years over the period 1995-2013.
  • Invalidity Service Pension is payable to veterans with qualifying service if they are permanently incapacitated for work.
  • Partner Service Pension (PSP) is payable on the basis that the person is the partner or widow(er) of a veteran with qualifying service. PSP is similar to the Age Pension, but is granted five years earlier. There is further concession on the age requirement where the couple have a dependent child, or the person is the partner of a veteran who receives disability pension at more than the general rate.
  • Income Support Supplement is payable to war or defence widow(er)s.

Depending on the individual's circumstances, recipients of income support payments may be eligible for supplementary benefits including the Defence Force Income Support Allowance, Rent Assistance, Remote Area Allowance and Pension Supplement. The Defence Force Income Support Allowance may only be payable if a person receives both an income and support payment under Social Security Pension or Benefit and an Adjusted Disability Pension under the Veterans' Entitlement Act. Self-funded retirees may be eligible for Seniors Supplement to assist with payment of energy, rates, water and sewerage expenses.

The Defence Service Homes Scheme provides financial benefits, including housing loan interest subsidies, comprehensive home owners insurance cover at competitive rates, and home contents insurance. At 30 June 2008 and 2009, 82,993 and 79,514 homes respectively, were insured. The corresponding number of loan accounts were 28,900 and 25,748 while the corresponding amounts of subsidy paid were $6.3m and $5.8m.

Table 9.16 shows the total number of recipients and annual expenditure on service pensions.
9.16 SERVICE PENSIONERS(a)

2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09

Veterans
Old age no.
103 273
94 903
89 893
83 838
Permanently incapacitated no.
19 121
18 742
18 641
18 180
Tuberculosis(b) no.
64
53
46
35
Total no.
122 458
113 698
108 580
102 053
Wives and widows no.
103 110
96 864
93 959
88 972
Total no.
225 568
210 562
202 539
191 025
Total expenditure(c) $'000
2 824 208
2 910 271
2 949 160
3 199 020

(a) Number of customers in June.
(b) Eligibility on these grounds ceased on 2 November 1978.
(c) Includes associated allowances and Income Support Supplement recipients.
Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


Health program

Health care treatment is provided to all veterans of Australia's defence force who are aged 70 years and over and who have qualifying service, war Widows/Widowers and eligible dependants of a deceased veteran. Service pensioners who satisfy the treatment benefits means test are also eligible. People whose disabilities have been accepted by the DVA as service-related, and for pulmonary tuberculosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and malignant neoplasia whether they are service-related or not. Vietnam veterans with anxiety and depression and Gulf War veterans with undiagnosable conditions are also eligible for health care treatment whether the conditions are service-related or not.

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) provides intake assessment, counselling, case management services and group programs to veterans of all conflicts and their families, as well as working with the ex-service community to promote awareness and understanding of mental health problems in the veteran community. Table 9.17 shows use of the VVCS.

9.17 VVCS VETERANS AND VETERANS FAMILIES COUNSELLING SERVICE(a)

Type of counselling
2005-06(b)
2006-07(b)
2007-08
2008-09

Centre-based consultation sessions
23 384
23 197
21 255
19 940
Group session consultation hours
12 226
10 605
9 922
9 379
Country outreach consultation sessions
39 143
36 306
30 203
32 029
Intake and assessment(c) sessions
. .
..
5 964
11 431

. . not applicable
(a) Prior to April 2007 the VVCS was known as the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service.
(b) Previously published figures for 2005-06 and 2006-07 have been updated.
(c) In January 2008 VVCS introduced recording Intake and Assessment service activity. Previously, only those clients who were allocated for counselling had this recorded as the first session. This service is now captured separately and includes all contacts of a clinical nature regardless of whether they are allocated for centre or outreach counselling.
Source: Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


In addition, and subject to conditions, health care treatment in Australia is provided to certain veterans of Australia's defence forces for all health conditions. War widow(er)s and certain other dependants of deceased veterans are also entitled to treatment for all conditions.

Other services include vocational rehabilitation services, acute hospital care, dental and pharmaceutical assistance, and transport assistance.

People of working age

Working-age payments

Working age payments provide financial assistance to people who are unemployed, and looking for work or participating in employment preparation programs, or have parenting responsibilities. Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment (partnered and single), and Youth Allowance (see later section on Youth services and support) are the main payments available to people of working age.

From July 2006, working age payment policies changed to focus more on increasing workforce participation and reducing welfare dependency. In return for financial support, working-age people with a capacity to work are expected to participate in the paid workforce, or demonstrate that they are looking for work or undertaking activities to improve their employment prospects, such as further study, training or approved voluntary work. Participation requirements are modified for those with reduced work capacity due to disability or caring responsibilities.

Newstart Allowance is payable for eligible job seekers aged 21 years or over and under age pension age. Newstart allowees have access to employment services that provide a range of integrated services and includes special help for retrenched workers and youth. Newstart allowees have participation requirements, however these are designed to accommodate factors such as caring responsibilities, disability, age and location.

Parenting Payment is the main income support payment for people with sole or primary responsibility for the care of a young child. Single parents who claim income support after 1 July 2006 may be eligible for Parenting Payment (Single) until their youngest child turns eight. Partnered parents may be eligible for Parenting Payment (Partnered) until their youngest child turns six. These parents are required to look for part-time work of at least 15 hours a week or undertake another approved activity when their youngest child turns six.

People receiving Parenting Payment since before 1 July 2006 can remain on this payment until their youngest child turns 16, subject to them continuing to meet all eligibility requirements. These parents have part-time work eligibility requirements from 1 July 2007 or when their youngest child turns seven, whichever is the later.

Job seekers and parents (including the most disadvantaged such as the long term unemployed) have access to Job Services Australia, the Australian Government’s employment services. Job Services Australia is an integrated service that provides job seekers with a personalised service with a strong focus on skills development and training, work experience and tailored interventions to suit individual needs and circumstances. There are strong links between the employment services providers and local employers. Parents also have access to child-care assistance to enable workforce participation.

Disability Employment Services are also available to help job seekers with disability, injury or health conditions find work. All eligible job seekers with disability have access to individually tailored and comprehensive services including capacity building, training, work experience and other interventions to help participants obtain and maintain suitable employment.

Recipients of Widow Allowance and Partner Allowance (closed to new claimants from September 2003) do not have participation requirements; however employment services are available to them should they wish to get help to find work.

Other working age payments include:
  • Special Benefit, which provides assistance to people in severe financial need and for whom no other pension or allowance is available.
  • Bereavement Allowance, which is a short-term payment for people without dependent children whose partner has recently died.
  • Sickness Allowance which may be paid to people aged between 21 years and Age Pension age who are temporarily unable to work or continue with their full-time study due to illness or injury, but who have a job or study to return to.

Other supplementary payments include:
  • Pensioner Education Supplement - a fortnightly income supplement for single parents or people with disability who are studying.
  • Education Entry Payment is a lump sum payment for those commencing approved study.
  • Training Supplement - a fortnightly supplementary payment for recipients of Newstart Allowance and Parenting Payment Single who undertake approved training during the period 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2011, and
  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy Supplement to assist people with the costs of participating in the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program.

Table 9.18 shows the number of Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment and other working-age allowances recipients, together with expenditure on these allowances.
9.18 WORKING AGE ALLOWANCES(a)(b)

2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09

Newstart Allowance
Short-term (less than 12 months)
Males no.
120 479
104 439
100 418
176 906
Females no.
53 730
55 764
55 674
84 698
Persons no.
174 209
160 203
156 092
261 604
Long-term (12 months and over)
Males no.
167 686
158 344
142 322
149 200
Females no.
96 665
99 246
100 987
109 390
Persons no.
264 351
257 590
243 309
258 590
Total payments $'000
4 527 720
4 493 978
4 180 817
4 885 930
Parenting Payment
Single
Males no.
32 463
25 677
20 559
18 348
Females no.
400 907
369 818
340 074
325 748
Persons no.
433 370
395 495
360 633
344 096
Total payments $'000
4 818 425
4 696 298
4 368 571
4 281 362
Partnered
Persons no.
159 719
144 427
125 922
129 365
Total payments $'000
1 229 878
1 216 792
1 024 171
1 015 057
Mature Age Allowance(c)
Recipients no.
12 038
5 032
754
-
Total payments $'000
162 667
87 831
28 939
840
Partner Allowance
Recipients no.
60 489
45 988
38 456
29 369
Total payments $'000
599 088
522 075
431 064
375 971
Widow Allowance
Recipients no.
44 603
40 247
39 131
36 086
Total payments $'000
492 836
505 342
480 081
508 317
Sickness Allowance
Recipients no.
7 510
7 624
47 202
48 386
Total payments $'000
85 415
85 191
69 795
69 562
Pensioner Education Supplement
Recipients no.
53 646
47 362
7 437
6 968
Total payments $'000
78 550
73 489
83 363
92 580

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) Number of recipients in June.
(b) The number of Newstart, Mature Age, Partner and Widow Allowance recipients in this table excludes Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) participants.
(c) Closed to new entrants from 20 September 2003.
Source: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.



People with disability

Specialist disability services and assistance are available to help people with disability, including mental illness and autism, and their families and carers, to participate actively in community and economic life, access a responsive and sustainable safety net and support services, and develop their capabilities.

Disability support payments

Disability Support Pension (DSP) is an income support payment for people with physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment assessed as unable to work at least 15 hours a week independently of support. DSP recipients are not required to participate in the workforce, but are encouraged to engage with employment services and look for work that matches their assessed capacity.

DSP is income and assets tested. However, recipients who are permanently blind are exempt from the income and assets tests. DSP for people aged 21 years and over is paid at the same rate as Age Pension. Youth rates apply to those aged under 21 years without children. These are largely tied to Youth Allowance rates, but include a Youth Disability Supplement in recognition of the additional costs faced by people with disabilities. DSP youth rates are not subject to parental income or assets tests.

In addition, Mobility Allowance helps those involved in paid work, employment services, vocational training or voluntary work or a combination of these, who are unable to use public transport without substantial assistance.

Supplementary assistance is provided to eligible recipients through Remote Area Allowance, Telephone Allowance, Utilities Allowance, Pharmaceutical Allowance, and concession cards.

Table 9.19 shows the number of recipients of support for people with a disability, and expenditure by payment type.

9.19 SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY(a)

2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09

Disability Support Pension
Males no.
415 618
413 033
413 484
422 290
Females no.
296 545
301 123
318 883
334 828
Persons no.
712 163
714 156
732 367
757 118
Total payments $'000
8 256 566
8 651 399
9 370 000
10 918 000
Mobility Allowance
Recipients no.
51 669
54 942
55 299
56 080
Total payments $'000
95 872
106 371
114 070
118 546

(a) Number of customers in June.
Source: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.


National Disability Agreement (NDA)

The National Disability Agreement (NDA), which replaces the Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA) came into effect from 1 January 2009.

Under the new Agreement, the Commonwealth Government will provide more than $5 billion in funding over five years to the state and territory governments for specialist disability services. The Agreement means that in 2013 the Commonwealth Government's contribution will exceed $1.2 billion, compared to $620 million in 2007.

Under the Agreement, the Commonwealth Government is responsible for employment and income support and state and territory governments are responsible for specialist delivery services such as supported accommodation, targeted support and respite.

State and territory governments, in consultation with the Commonwealth, have agreed to develop a system comprising single access points for disability services, consistent assessment processes, quality assurance systems and more consistent access to aids and equipment as national priorities. Together these reforms will provide a responsive system of disability support that is easy to access and responds flexibly to people’s changing needs.

Through the Agreement, the Commonwealth Government will provide funding to state and territory governments for more services to help with the reform of the disability service system.


This funding includes $1.9 billion agreed by Disability Ministers in May 2008 which will provide more than 24,800 additional disability places including:
  • around 2,300 in-home support services
  • 2,300 supported accommodation places
  • 10,000 individual support packages
  • 10,000 much needed respite places in a range of forms across Australia.

Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care

Residential aged care is often not the best accommodation and care option for younger people with disability. In June 2006 there were around 6,500 people with disability under the age of 65 years in residential aged care, of whom around 1,000 were aged under 50 years.

At the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in February 2006, the Australian, state and territory governments committed up to $244m in matched funding in the Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care program, for a five year period The aim of the program is to move young people with disability out of residential aged care into more appropriate accommodation, divert those at risk of admission to residential aged care and provide enhanced services to those who chose to remain in residential aged care. The programs initial priority target group is people under 50 years of age, however where possible, people aged less than 65 years are also included.

National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy

The Australian Government's Social Inclusion Agenda promotes participation and access to resources for all Australians. As part of the Social Inclusion Agenda, the Australian Government has developed a National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy. The objective of the Strategy is to increase the employment of people with disability, promote social inclusion and improve national economic productivity. Initiatives have been developed to ensure Australians with disability and mental illness have improved opportunities to search, find and maintain employment.

Disability Employment Services commenced on 1 March 2010, and is supported by two programs; Program A for eligible job seekers who require the assistance of a Disability Employment Service but are not expected to need long-term support in the workplace, and Program B for job seekers with a permanent disability and with an assessed need for more long-term, regular support in the workplace. Participants work with their provider to develop their own Employment Pathway Plan and access to an Employment Assistance Fund is available to assist with finding and maintaining employment such as workplace modifications and Auslan interpreting services.

Mental health

In February 2006, Australian leaders committed to reform the mental health system. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Action Plan on Mental Health 2006-2011 emphasises collaboration between sectors to deliver a more connected care system. Initiatives valued at $4 billion are being implemented over five years. Reforms contribute to the wellbeing of people with mental illness, their families and carers, which strengthens communities.

The Action Plan aims to improve mental health and facilitate recovery through a greater focus on promotion, prevention and early intervention; improved access to mental health services, including in Indigenous and rural communities; more stable accommodation; and meaningful participation in recreational, social, employment and other activities. Improving the care system will involve a focus on better coordinated care and building workforce capacity.

There are interconnections between mental illness and homelessness, unemployment, physical disability, alcohol and other drugs use, family violence, abuse, torture and trauma. People with mental illness and their families need integrated responses from services. Community support programs complement clinical responses in supporting recovery from mental illness.

Other vulnerable groups within communities include the forgotten Australians, stolen generation and humanitarian entrants. Targeted support will be provided to these vulnerable groups through the Personal Helpers and Mentors service strategy.


Carers

Informal carers play an important role in providing daily care and support to people with disability, people with a medical condition, people with mental illness and the aged. In providing this assistance and support, carers make a significant social and economic contribution to Australian society. Whilst informal care can be a positive experience for both the carer and care receiver, it can also impact on the carer who may need additional support to ensure that they have the opportunity to enjoy optimum health, social, and economic well-being and to participate in family, social and community life, employment and education. Nearly 2.6 million Australians are carers and the demand for carers can be expected to increase as the population ages.Income support

There are two main forms of financial support for carers. Carer Payment is an income support payment for people who, because of their caring responsibilities, are unable to support themselves through substantial paid employment. Carer Allowance is an income supplement available to people who provide daily care and attention in a private home to a person who has disability or severe medical condition, or who is frail aged. In 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 a Carer Bonus of $1,000 was paid to Carer Payment recipients and $600 for recipients of Carer Allowance for each eligible care receiver. The Secure and Sustainable Pension Reform package announced in the 2009-10 Budget introduced the $600 Carer Supplement. The Carer Supplement is paid to recipients of Carer Allowance for each person being cared for. Carer Supplement is also paid to:
  • recipients of Carer Payment
  • recipients of both Wife Pension and Carer Allowance
  • recipients of both Department of Veterans’ Affairs Partner Service Pension and Carer Allowance
  • recipients of Department of Veterans’ Affairs Carer Service pension.

The first payments of Carer Supplement were made in June 2009. Future payments of Carer Supplement will be paid on 1 July each year, starting from 1 July 2010.

Supplementary assistance is provided to eligible recipients through Remote Area Allowance, Telephone Allowance, Utilities Allowance, Pharmaceutical Allowance, and concession cards.

Table 9.20 shows the number of recipients and expenditure on support for carers.

9.20 SUPPORT FOR CARERS(a)

2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09

Carer Payment
Recipients no.
105 058
116 614
130 657
146 870
Total payments(b) $'000
1 220 828
1 408 052
1 690 889
1 938 825
Carer Allowance
Recipients no.
366 960
393 263
422 905
461 086
Total payments(b) $'000
1 258 397
1 349 030
1 591 330
1 801 012

(a) Numbers in June.
(b) Includes 'one-off' bonus payments in all years.
Source: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


Carer services and assistance

The Australian Government funds services for carers, including respite services, Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres, practical and financial support, and services delivered through the HACC Program. Other non-financial assistance to carers includes special measures for young carers, people with mental illness and carers of people with intellectual disability, assistance to parents with disabled children with severe disability and projects to address the impacts of long-term caring.

Youth and students

Income support

Youth Allowance supports young people aged 16-20 years actively seeking employment and full-time students aged 16-24 years. It is subject to a personal income and assets test. If the young person is not independent, then parental income, family assets, and family actual means tests also apply. The rate of payment depends on age and circumstances.

In April 2009, COAG agreed to a Compact with Young Australians to increase young people’s engagement with education and training pathways. Part of this compact comprises the National Youth Participation Requirements for young Australians. From 1 July 2009, young people are considered to be early school leavers until they have completed Year 12 or an equivalent qualification (Certificate Level II). Early school leavers are required to participate in full-time study or training, or in part-time study or training in combination with other approved activities, for a total of 25 hours per week. Young principal carer parents or those with a partial capacity to work have reduced participation requirements of 15 hours per week.

Austudy is a means tested income support payment provided to students or Australian Apprentices aged 25 years and over. To qualify for assistance, a person must be undertaking qualifying study (full-time or a concessional study load) in an approved course at an approved educational institution; and an Australian resident and currently residing in Australia.

ABSTUDY is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Study Assistance Scheme that provides a means tested living allowance and other supplementary benefits to eligible Indigenous Australian secondary and tertiary students. To qualify for assistance a person must be undertaking full-time study in an approved course at an approved educational institution and meet residency requirements.

Supplementary assistance may be provided to eligible recipients through Remote Area Allowance, Pharmaceutical Allowance, Telephone Allowance and concession cards.

Family Tax Benefit (FTB) may be available to help families with the cost of raising a young person who is not receiving Youth Allowance or a similar payment. It may be payable for a young person up to 21 years of age, or aged between 21 and 24 years who is studying full time.

Table 9.21 shows the number of recipients of and the expenditure on youth and student support.

9.21 YOUTH AND STUDENT SUPPORT(a)

2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09

Youth Allowance (YA)
Full-time students no.
274 050
266 383
256 634
278 664
Other(b) no.
75 186
68 698
64 907
82 907
Total YA population no.
349 236
335 081
321 541
361 571
Total YA payments $'000
2 101 265
2 073 725
2 036 141
2 500 764
Austudy(c)
Recipients no.
27 728
27 869
28 776
34 175
Total payments $'000
217 765
217 540
227 894
353 500
ABSTUDY(c)
Recipients(d) no.
35 045
34 489
33 776
34 612
Total payments $'000
154 973
155 603
157 934
191 026

(a) Number of recipients in June.
(b) Job seekers and Part-time students - including those undertaking full-time training/agreement study.
(c) Consistent with other recipient numbers, the number of Austudy and ABSTUDY recipients has, since 2007-08, been reported as a point-in-time population. To allow comparison between previous years, both sequences have been revised back to June 2006 using this methodology.
(d) Recipient numbers for ABSTUDY are reported on a whole of calendar year basis. Note: Australian Apprentices became eligible for income support from 1 July 2005 and are included in the above figures.
Source: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Youth services and support

Young job seekers can receive assistance in finding employment through Job Services Australia, which replaced the previous Job Network on 1 July 2009. All young people aged 15-20 years not in full-time education and who are registered with Centrelink as looking for work can access the full range of employment services, whether they receive income support or not. Across Australia there are Job Services Australia providers that assist youth with their skills development to obtain sustainable employment and there are Job Services Australia providers that are youth specialists .

Young job seekers with complex or multiple non-vocational barriers, such as mental illness, homelessness and social problems, can now access employment services immediately and access funds for interventions such as counselling, help with crisis accommodation or referrals to specialist support services.

Young job seekers with a disability also have access to Disability Employment Services. Providers of this service can work on early intervention partnerships with schools, so that eligible students with a disability can access the help they need to transition from school to employment.

Other programs are available to help disengaged and disadvantaged young people to improve their level of engagement with their families and community to overcome barriers to participation in education and employment. These programs include the National Green Jobs Corps, Mentor Marketplace, YouthLinx, Youth Development and Support Transition to Independent Living Allowance, Indigenous Youth Mobility, Career Advice Australia, Australian Apprenticeships and Australian Apprenticeship Access Program, and Strengthening and Supporting Families Coping with Illicit Drug Use.


Families

Families form the basic unit of home life for most Australian people. The level of family assistance provided by the Australian Government has increased significantly over recent years. Payments to assist families include FTB; Child Care Benefit, Child Care Tax Rebate, Jobs, Education and Training Child Care fee assistance; and the Maternity Payment; with the highest rates of payment going to low-income families. The Australian Government also funds counselling services to help keep families together.

Family payments

Family assistance policies assist with the costs of raising children, including newborns, in ways that recognise the needs and choices of single and dual income families.

FTB Part A helps families with the cost of raising dependent children. It is paid to eligible families with dependent children up to 21 years, and young people between 21 and 24 years who are studying full time. Payments are made for each dependent child who is not receiving Youth Allowance or a similar payment. FTB Part A is subject to a family income test and provides access to supplementary payments, including Rent Assistance, Large Family Supplement and Multiple Birth Allowance. There is also a supplement payable after the end of the financial year.

FTB Part B provides extra assistance for families with only one main income earner and for sole-parent families. Payment to a family is based on the age of the youngest child, and is assessed on the income of the family’s second income earner. It is paid per family, not per dependent child. Families must have at least one dependent child aged under 16 years, or aged 16--18 years who is studying full time. The child must not be receiving Youth Allowance or similar payment. FTB Part B has a higher rate of payment where the youngest child is under five years of age. There is also an end of year supplement.

FTB payments are paid through the Family Assistance Office or the tax system. As at the end of June 2009, approximately 1.8 million families with 3.4 million children received FTB Part A, and 1.4 million families received FTB Part B via fortnightly payments from the Family Assistance Office.

Maternity Payment (renamed Baby Bonus from 1 July 2007) is available to families following the birth (including still birth) or adoption of a baby up to the age of two years. Maternity Payment recognises the extra costs incurred at the time of a new birth or the adoption of a very young child and is not income tested.

Other payments to families include Maternity Immunisation Allowance and Double Orphan Pension.

Table 9.22 shows the number of recipients of, and the expenditure on, family assistance.
9.22 FAMILY ASSISTANCE

2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09

Family Tax Benefit
Centrelink
Recipients(a)
Part A - fortnightly instalments(b) no.
1 811 826
1 769 091
1 734 000
1 773 000
Part B - fortnightly instalments(b) no.
1 372 693
1 376 917
1 359 000
1 365 000
Lump sum payments(c) no.
56 865
na
62 503
80 774
Claims lodged with ATO but to be paid by the FAO no.
9 759
8 262
13 177
24 015
Total payments (Part A and Part B)(d) $’000
13 534 246
14 042 785
14 143 858
17 258 654
Australian Taxation Office
Recipients(a)(e)
Paid on assessment no.
134 535
145 276
150 875
159 585
Payments
Paid on assessment(e) $’000
444 000
489 000
-
-
Reconciliation credits(e)(d) $’000
1 289 000
1 478 000
1 661 000
1 677 000
Family Assistance Legislative Amendment (more help for families - one-off payments) $’000
. .
. .
. .
. .
Family Assistance Scheme $’000
22 697
2 130
. .
. .
Baby Bonus (Previously named Maternity Payment)
Recipients no.
268 751
286 770
285 000
278 000
Payments(f) $’000
855 039
1 161 616
1 213 174
1 399 926
Maternity Allowance
Recipients no.
. .
. .
na
na
Payments(f) $’000
. .
. .
na
na
Maternity Immunisation Allowance
Recipients no.
219 775
223 567
260 000
269 000
Payments(f) $’000
49 843
56 234
61 290
50 411
Double Orphan Pension
Recipients no.
1 312
1 330
1 400
1 400
Payments(f) $’000
2 669
2 835
3 038
3 105

. . not applicable
- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
na not available
(a) Recipients who claimed assistance using more than one payment method for the year are included in each category.
(b) This provides a count of the customers eligible for payment at the time of data extraction (in June of the relevant tax year). It does not show all the customers who are eligible throughout the course of the year.
(c) Figures for lump sum payments refer to payments made in the relevant tax year ending 30 June for the FTB entitlement for the previous year.
(d) This refers to payments to customers who received FTB via fortnightly instalment from the FAO but were paid top-ups by the ATO after they lodged their tax return and were reconciled. Reconciliation credits from the 2004-05 financial year also include FTB Part A supplement.
(e) Number of recipients and expenditure refer to FTB payments made by the ATO within the relevant financial year.
(f) Expenditure refers to total payments to end of June of the relevant tax year.
Source: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


Services for families

The Family Support Program brings together key existing family, children and parenting services that share a common interest in supporting Australian families, parents and children. These services include:
  • Family Relationship Services
  • Strengthening Families Program funded under the National Illicit Drug Strategy
  • Communities for Children Initiative
  • Invest to Grow
  • Child Care Links
  • Responding Early Assisting Children
  • Indigenous Children Services
  • Playgroup
  • Indigenous Parenting Support Services.

In bringing these services together, the Family Support Program will provide a more coordinated and flexible approach to delivering support to families and children. The services offered through the Family Support Program will work with parents and children navigating life transitions, vulnerable and at risk families and children in highly disadvantaged communities, and families and children experiencing separation and divorce.


Children

Child Support Scheme

The Child Support Agency (CSA) manages the assessment, collection and enforcement of child support liabilities. It aims to ensure that parents continue to financially support their children after separation, according to their capacity. The total child support liabilities in 2008-09 were $2.9 billion. Child support associated with parents who elect to transfer payments privately amounted to $1.7 billion in 2008-09. The child support transferred or credited against a liability by CSA was $1.1 billion in 2008-09.

Assistance with child care costs

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) develops polices that give more children access to early childhood development support, education and family care.

Access to child care is vital for many families to enable them to participate effectively in the workforce. Child-care services include long day care, family day care, in home care, outside school hours care, vacation care, and occasional care. Flexible services that can combine various models of care are available to meet the needs of families in rural and remote areas.

There are two main forms of payment for child-care support:
  • Child Care Benefit (CCB) helps families with the cost of child care, and provides financial assistance that is proportionally higher for lower income families. Eligible families can have CCB paid directly to the approved child-care service to reduce their child-care fees. Alternatively, they can receive CCB as a lump sum at the end of the financial year.
  • Child Care Tax Rebate (CCTR) is a payment available to working families using approved child care for work, training or study purposes.

From the 2006-07 and 2007-08 financial years, eligible families were paid their CCTR through the Family Assistance Office as an annual payment, rather than through the tax system. This meant that families who previously could not access the full benefit of the CCTR due to low or no tax liability were able to claim the full 30% rebate.

In the 2008-09 Budget, the Australian Government announced the removal of the minimum rate of CCB, which was paid to all eligible families regardless of income, replacing it with an extended means-tested rate that tapers until the payment rate reaches zero. The income level at which the CCB cuts out depends on the number of children using approved child care. This measure came into effect on 1 July 2008.

Families with a CCB entitlement of zero due to their income level may still be eligible for the CCTR. The CCTR is not income-tested, so working families using approved child care can receive this assistance regardless of their income.

Previously, the CCTR covered 30 per cent of approved out-of-pocket child care costs, up to a maximum of $4,354 per child per year. From July 2008, the rate of the rebate increased significantly so that it now covers 50 per cent of out-of-pocket costs up to a maximum of $7,500 (indexed) per child per year. From July 2008, families have also been able to receive the CCTR as a quarterly payment rather than as an annual payment to ensure that it is provided closer to the time they incur their child care expenses. The first quarterly payments were made through the Family Assistance Office in October 2008.

Jobs, Education and Training (JET) Child Care fee assistance provides extra child care assistance to parents on income support who wish to undertake study, work or job search activities to enter or re-enter the workforce.

Table 9.23 shows the number of recipients of and expenditure on child-care support.
9.23 CHILD CARE SUPPORT(a)

2005-06
2006-07
2007-08
2008-09

Child Care Benefit (CCB)
Approved service(a) no.
734 600
749 500
798 000
na
Registered carers(b) no.
58 200
52 000
60 200
na
Payments $'000
1 501 287
1 478 333
1 863 500
na
Jobs Education and Training (JET) Child Care
Recipients(c) no.
18 188
18 364
20 312
22 722
Payments $'000
21 658
43 035
46,281(est)
na

na not available
(a) Number of customers who used care over the financial year. Includes CCB paid to recipients as a reduction in service fees and potentially as a lump sum payment.
(b) CCB for registered care is paid at minimum rate.
(c) Number of customers assisted through JET Child Care fee assistance
Source: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.


Child Care Services Support Program (CCSSP)

The CCSSP complements assistance provided to families through CCB. Funding to CCSSP was $298m in 2007-08. The program supports the provision of sustainable, quality child care and provides information to assist families to make informed decisions about child care. CCSSP helps to improve access for children and families with special and or additional needs. CCSSP funding targets assistance to areas where a service may not otherwise be viable. This ensures similar services in similar circumstances receive the same funding.

Child Care Management System (CCMS)

Over $73m was invested to develop the CCMS to provide the best information on child care supply and usage. CCMS was implemented progressively across child-care services from January 2008 through to 30 June 2009. CCMS brings all approved child-care providers online to standardise and simplify the administration of CCB.

Outside School Hours Care for Teenagers with Disability

This activity assists teenagers with disability, aged 12 to 18 years, and their families by providing flexible outside school hours care. Outside schools hours care includes before, after and holiday care. In the 2009 Budget, the Australian Government announced a total of $5.1 million in additional funding over four years to the 2012-13 financial year, to extend Outside School Hours Care for Teenagers with Disability, bringing total funding to $27.629m over the four years.

Helping Children with Autism Package

The Australian Government is committed to providing improved support for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), their families and carers. To help address the need for support and services for children with ASDs, the Australian Government is delivering the $190 million Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package. This is the first national initiative to help families deal with this challenging disorder and is a major breakthrough in support for children and their families and carers.

The package includes early intervention funding, autism advisors to provide advice, information and support following diagnosis, workshops, an ASD website and 150 PlayConnect Playgroups specifically for families and children with ASDs.

To date, Autism Advisors have supported 5,628 children and 4,104 children have accessed early intervention funding.


Communities

The strength of community functioning has a large impact on individual, family and community wellbeing. Voluntary work and the way people use their time can impact on strength of community functioning. All levels of government seek to support and strengthen communities through provision of services, either directly or by subsidising the activities of third parties.Community Investment Program

The Australian Government provided $63m in 2008--09 for the Community Investment Program, which builds social inclusion for vulnerable people by supporting organisations to recognise, evaluate and address key problems in communities. Key strategies under the program included:
  • The former Local Answers initiative, which aimed to strengthen disadvantaged communities by funding local, small-scale, time-limited projects that help communities to identify opportunities to develop skills, support children and families and foster proactive communities. One hundred and five projects across Australia received an extension of funding under Local Answers in 2008-09
  • The National Secretariat, which provides financial support for peak bodies to allow them to contribute to government policy and service delivery, and communicate government information to their memberships. The National Secretariat provided funding for 21 peak bodies in 2008-09
  • Volunteer Grants, which provides grants of up to $5,000 each to community organisations to allow them to purchase small equipment items to assist and support their volunteers, and contribute to reimbursing fuel costs incurred by volunteers in carrying out their voluntary work. In 2008-09, the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) supported Australian volunteers by providing $21 million in discretionary grants to more than 7,200 volunteering organisations under the program
  • Volunteer Management, which provides funding to Volunteer Resource Centres across Australia to provide quality volunteer management and training activities, as well as assistance and training to organisations that use volunteers. Volunteer Management funding supported 50 Volunteer Resource Centres in 2008-09.

Financial inclusion and capability

In 2008-09, $65.3 million in funding through the Financial Management Program (FMP) supported community organisations to improve the financial self-reliance and wellbeing of individuals and families. Assistance includes financial counselling, money management information and education, support for people dealing with a financial crisis and finding ways to minimise problem gambling.

In 2008-09, 746,810 people accessed support services funded under the FMP.

The aim of the FMP is to deliver financial support services where the individual is at the centre and Australian Government and non-government services work in partnership to help people achieve financial and social wellbeing. Service strategies include:

Emergency Relief

Emergency Relief services provide support to address immediate needs in time of crisis. Assistance often includes food parcels and clothing, transport, chemist vouchers, help with accommodation, payment of bills, budgeting assistance and sometimes cash. Importantly, Emergency Relief agencies provide appropriate referrals to other services that help to address underlying causes of financial crisis.

Commonwealth Financial Counselling

Financial counsellors help people in financial difficulty address their financial problems and make informed choices through provision of information; advocacy and/or negotiation; referral; community education and networking/liaison.

Money Management

Money Management services currently operate in remote communities, predominantly supporting Indigenous people including Income Management participants. They provide clients with education and information to help them manage their money. They do not provide financial advice or deal with complex financial/legal matters and will facilitate access to financial counsellors for help with complex issues.

Information on saving for retirement and retirement investments

The National Information Centre on Retirement Investments (NICRI), an independent body funded by the Australian Government, provides the public with free information on planning and saving for retirement, investment options and effective use of financial resources in retirement.

Research into problem gambling

The Australian Government works in partnership with State and Territory Governments through the Ministerial Council on Gambling (MCG) to develop a national approach to problem gambling. The Commonwealth provides funding for the MCG’s national research program, Gambling Research Australia. The Commonwealth also commissions research into issues that have national impact.

Closing the Gap - Northern Territory - income management

In 2008-09, FaHSCIA continued to work on the implementation of income management as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER). Income management directs 50 per cent of certain income support and family payments to agreed priority expenses such as food, utilities and clothing. Income management is intended to ensure that payments meant to benefit children are used for the benefit of children and are not directed towards harmful behaviours. At 26 June 2009, over 15,500 individuals were on income management as part of the NTER. The Basics Card was introduced in September 2008 to allow customers of income management greater flexibility in where they spend their income managed funds.
Welfare Payments Reform - Child Protection Scheme of Income Management, Voluntary Income Management and School Attendance and Enrolment support package

The Child Protection Scheme of Income Management (CPSIM) and Voluntary Income Management (VIM) are available in Kimberley WA and in Perth metropolitan area. CPSIM and VIM aim to encourage socially responsible behaviour and to enhance the well-being of children. Under CPSIM, Western Australia’s Department of Child Protection can refer a person to Centrelink for income management where the poor use of existing financial resources wholly or partially contributes to child protection issues.

VIM allows people to volunteer for income management if they feel it would assist them to better meet their financial responsibilities, or contribute to the wellbeing of their children or children in their community. At 19 June 2009, there were almost 200 CPSIM and VIM customers.

A vast majority (over 80 per cent) of income managed funds have been allocated towards food, housing costs and clothing by income management customers.

Communities in harmony

A number of Australian Government programs have been established to encourage greater social integration of communities. The National Action Plan aims to build social cohesion, harmony and security. The Living in Harmony program promotes community harmony and addresses issues of racial, religious and cultural intolerance within Australia. FaHCSIA's 'Bringing Communities Together' works with different groups within the community.

Support for newly arrived migrants includes Newly Arrived Youth Support Services, Family Relationship Services for Humanitarian Entrants, Crisis Payment and child care inclusion programs.

The Family Community Network Initiative aims to enhance the capacity of communities and services to work together to address needs. It is administered by FaHCSIA and is currently primarily focussed on supporting Indigenous communities participating in the COAG Indigenous Community Coordination Pilots around Australia.

Rural and remote support and services

Many rural and regional communities face economic challenges, declining population, lack of development opportunities, or high levels of unemployment and social disadvantage. Initiatives have been introduced to support employment and economic security for rural families, and economic sustainability for rural communities. Financial assistance packages are available for farmers, businesses, Indigenous and rural communities. In addition, Remote Area Allowance provides extra help for people in remote areas and is paid fortnightly along with the relevant pension or payment. At June 2008, there were 58,276 and, at June 2009, 59,259 recipients.

Severe drought has a profound impact on rural and regional communities, the environment and the broader Australian economy. Drought-affected farmers, rural communities and agriculture-dependent small businesses are being supported through income support, interest rate subsidies and free personal and financial counselling.

Natural disasters

The Australian Government provides a coordinated approach to delivering recovery assistance in response to onshore and offshore disasters and critical incidents. While the primary role for protecting the community and property in response to domestic disasters rests with state and territory governments, the Australian Government supports the states and territories through programs and measures, including the:
  • Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA)
  • provision of assistance, when requested, under agreed national plans (e.g. Commonwealth Disaster Response Plan)
  • provision of tailored disaster recovery financial and other assistance, such as the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment, through the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Committee (AGDRC).

The Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) are an Australian Government program that assists states and territories with the financial costs associated with natural disaster relief and recovery. The NDRRA enables the early provision of assistance to individuals and communities and supports the recovery of a community’s economic base following a natural disaster. A state or territory may claim NDRRA funding if:
  • a natural disaster occurs
  • state or territory relief and recovery expenditure for that event exceeds the small disaster criterion of $240,000
  • the state or territory notifies Emergency Management Australia of the event.

Under the NDRRA, three states submitted claims during the 2008-09 financial year of which the Australian Government paid $297 million. The claims submitted were for flooding, storm and cyclone events in the Northern Territory; tropical cyclones, flooding, storm and bushfire events in Queensland; and bushfire, flood and storm events in Victoria including the February 2009 Victorian bushfire event.

A whole-of-Australian Government assistance package was developed in response to the devastating Victorian bushfires in February 2009. The package addressed the social, economic, physical and environmental challenges that faced bushfire-affected individuals, families, communities, businesses, and local governments alike. The range of services included financial assistance through the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) and an Income Recovery Subsidy, case management and mental health services, small business and primary producer assistance, rebuilding the tourism sector in affected areas and supporting communities through the community recovery fund.

In 2008-09, the AGDRP supported 114,000 Australians adversely affected by Mumbai Terrorist attacks in November 2008, the South-east Queensland storms in November 2008, flooding in North Queensland in January and February 2009, the January and February 2009 Victorian bushfires and the May 2009 Northern New South Wales and South-east Queensland floods.


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