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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Income and Welfare

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 the state and territory governments have in place a range of reforms with the aim of closing the gap in life outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians. Different strategies are often needed for individual communities in urban, rural and remote areas. The Indigenous Economic Development Strategy is a national policy framework which guides Government decision-making and investment.

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. Australia’s retirement income system comprises a combination of government income support payments, mainly the Age Pension, and related non-cash benefits, compulsory superannuation and other private savings, including voluntary superannuation and home ownership. The introduction of an Age Pension Work Bonus and other 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 recipients 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 a range of tax benefits, including income tax offsets and rebates. State and territory governments provide both ongoing services, such as legal aid, and emergency support services, such as assistance during the 2011 Queensland and Victorian floods. Non-government organisations deliver many services with Commonwealth funding, including family relationship services, financial literacy programs and support for people with 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. As at June 2010, over 4.9 million people, or more than one in five individuals, were direct beneficiaries of income support payments (excluding family tax benefit and child care support payments).

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 20 September 2009 increased the pension rate, introduced a new pension indexation system, simplified and increased the flexibility of payments and introduced an age pensioner Work Bonus, while ensuring that the pension system remains sustainable now and into the future.

A package of reforms to student income support has been progressively implemented from April 2010 in response to the recommendations of the Bradley Review of Australian Higher Education. The reforms are consistent with the Government’s goals of ensuring that students from low socio-economic backgrounds make up 20% of undergraduate enrolments by 2020 and that 40% of all 25–34 year olds have a bachelor degree or higher qualification by 2025.

As part of the 2011–12 Federal Budget, the Government introduced the Building Australia’s Future Workforce package which encompassed reforms to the income support system, including changes to Parenting Payment, Youth Allowance and Newstart Allowance.

Expenditure on the major income support payments and benefits is detailed in table 9.10.


9.10 EXPENDITURE ON MAJOR INCOME SUPPORT PAYMENTS AND BENEFITS(a)
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
$'000
$'000
$'000
$'000
$'000

FAMILIES AND CHILDREN
Family assistance
Family Tax Benefit – Centrelink payments(b)
14 042 785
14 143 858
17 258 654
18 021 143
18 032 512
Family Assistance Scheme
2 310
. .
. .
. .
. .
Maternity Immunisation Allowance
56 234
61 290
50 411
34 954
35 813
Baby Bonus
1 161 616
1 213 174
1 399 926
1 398 431
1 176 973
Paid Parental Leave(c)
. .
. .
. .
. .
604 200
Double Orphan Pension
2 835
3 038
3 225
3 303
3 341
Child care(d)
Child Care Benefit
1 452 379
1 723 839
1 621 515
1 819 218
nya
Jobs Education and Training (JET) Child Care fee assistance
43 035
15 604
27 356
44 724
nya
Child Care Rebate (previously Child Care Tax Rebate)
521 336
561 418
1 262 225
1 297 011
nya

CARERS
Carer Payment(e)
1 408 052
1 690 889
1 938 825
2 269 422
2 729 643
Carer Allowance
1 349 030
1 591 330
1 801 012
1 477 650
1 604 734

SENIORS
Age Pension
22 598 475
24 577 319
28 098 263
29 384 503
32 151 505
Aged Persons Savings Bonus(f)
2
. .
. .
. .
. .
Self-Funded Retirees' Supplementary Bonus(f)
21
. .
. .
. .
. .
Seniors Bonus(g)
. .
1 400 000
. .
. .
. .
Telephone Allowance for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Holders(h)
11 867
16 538
18 185
. .
. .
Seniors Concession Allowance(h)
225 781
235 232
465 352
. .
. .
Seniors Supplement(h)
128 920
179 170
Utilities Allowance
146 821
630 261
1 172 662
28 247(i)
21 218(i)
Widow Class B Pension
3 689
5 805
7 204
6 966
6 993
Wife Pension (Age)
160 810
165 664
157 611
144 358
134 353
Wife Pension (DSP)
233 633
224 861
209 135
176 796
160 550

SPECIAL BENEFIT AND BEREAVEMENT
Special Benefit
67 153
64 091
65 251
67 882
73 250
Bereavement Allowance
1 421
1 978
2 885
nya
nya

WORKING AGE
Working age payments
Newstart Allowance
4 493 978
4 180 817
4 885 930
6 136 811
6 148 714
Parenting Payment
5 913 090
5 392 742
5 296 419
5 467 123
5 579 521
Mature Age Allowance
87 831
28 939
840
. .
. .
Partner Allowance
522 075
431 064
375 971
280 651
216 422
Widow Allowance
505 342
480 081
508 317
441 134
405 975
Pensioner Education Supplement
73 489
69 795
69 562
79 350
85 877
Disability Support Pension
8 651 399
9 370 000
10 918 088
11 859 670
13 355 744
Mobility Allowance
106 371
114 070
118 546
123 983
129 999
Sickness Allowance
85 191
83 363
92 580
83 662
85 159

YOUTH AND STUDENTS
Youth Allowance(j)
2 073 725
2 036 141
2 500 764
2 789 369
3 263 251
Austudy
217 540
227 894
353 500
343 385
418 819
ABSTUDY
155 603
157 934
191 026
199 149
210 846

VETERANS
Income Support Program
Service Pension
2 573 523
2 592 861
2 848 721
2 541 729
2 507 898
Income Support Supplement
336 747
356 299
350 299
402 084
414 487

ALL MAJOR INCOME SUPPORT PAYMENTS AND BENEFITS
Total(k)
69 285 189
73 848 189
84 070 260
87 051 628
89 736 967

. . not applicable
nya not yet available
(a) Outlays on pensions, allowances and Family Tax Benefits include expenditure on Commonwealth Rent Assistance. Details of rent assistance are included in chapter 10 HOUSING.
(b) Does not include payments made by the Australian Taxation Office.
(c) Paid Parental Leave commenced 1 January 2011.
(d) 2007–08 child care data are 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. Previously published amounts prior to 2009–10 have been amended.
(e) Includes 'one-off' bonus payments in 2006–07 and 2007–08.
(f) Payments were introduced to compensate for the introduction of the GST in 2000.
(g) A one-off lump-sum bonus payment of $500 paid to all income support recipients of age or veteran pension age, recipients of Seniors Concession Allowance and all recipients of Mature Age Allowance, Widow Allowance, Partner Allowance, Wife Pension and Widow B Pension.
(h) Seniors Supplement was introduced on 20 September 2009 to replace the former Seniors Concession Allowance and Telephone Allowance for eligible Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders.
(i) Includes only Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations expenditure.
(j) Youth Allowance is composed of an allowance for full-time or part-time students aged 16–24 (Youth Allowance (students)) and unemployed young people aged under 21 (Youth Allowance (other)). Both are administered by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
(k) Total is for the above programs only and does not include some minor income support payments.
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 the main income support payments are shown in table 9.11.


9.11 MAXIMUM FORTNIGHTLY RATES FOR MAIN INCOME SUPPORT PAYMENTS(a)
2008
2009
2010
2011
$
$
$
$

Austudy (single, no children)
355.40
371.40
377.00
388.70
Carer Allowance
100.60
105.10
106.70
110.00
FTB Part A (for 1 child under 13)(b)
145.46
151.34
156.94
160.30
FTB Part B (youngest child under 5)(b)
125.02
128.80
133.56
136.36
Newstart (single, no children)
437.10
453.30
462.80
474.90
Pensions (single)(c)
546.80
569.80
701.10
729.30
Parenting Payment (Partnered)
394.40
409.00
417.70
428.70
Rent Assistance (single with 3 or more children)
142.38
147.56
150.64
154.56
Income Support Supplement (DVA)
163.20
170.20
211.90
220.80
Youth Allowance (18 and over, at home)
233.90
244.40
248.10
255.80
Child Care Benefit-approved care (non-school age, one child)
3.37/hr
3.47/hr
3.60/hr
3.68/hr

(a) Not a complete list of income support payments. Rates for couples are not included. Rates are as at 30 June of each year.
(b) Family Tax Benefit supplement is not included.
(c) Maximum rate for age pension, disability support pension for people aged 21 and over, carer payments, and Department of Veterans' Affairs service pension. Includes pension supplements for 2010 and 2011.
Source: Centrelink, A Guide to Australian Government Payments: 20 March – 30 June 2008, 20 March – 30 June 2009, 20 March – 30 June 2010 and 20 March – 30 June 2011; Department of Veterans' Affairs.


SENIORS

Australia’s approach for retirement incomes combines a sustainable approach for generating retirement incomes, with targeted support for those who most need assistance. The retirement income system comprises three pillars:
  • The Age Pension provides publicly funded income support that is not based on past contributions or previous earnings but on a person’s current level of financial need. Seniors of pension age 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% 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 of pension age and the majority of seniors receive the payment. The Age Pension comprises a base rate and a Pension Supplement. From 20 September 2009, for pensioners, the Government’s Secure and Sustainable Pension Reform package combined the value of four allowances and supplements into the new Pension Supplement: the Utilities Allowance, the higher Internet rate of the Telephone Allowance, the GST Supplement and the Pharmaceutical Allowance.

The Age Pension is paid to people who meet age and residency requirements. The general Australian residency requirement for the Age Pension is ten years, although this can vary depending on a person’s country of origin. Currently men qualify for the Age Pension at 65 years. Women’s qualifying age is 64.5 years from 1 July 2011 and will reach 65 years by 2013. Through the pension reforms, from 2017, the Age Pension age for both men and women will gradually increase from 65 to 67 years by 2023.

The Age Pension is means tested. The rate of Age Pension a person receives depends upon their level of income and assets. If a person’s assessable income or assets exceed certain thresholds, the Age Pension rate is reduced on a sliding scale. A Work Bonus was introduced through the pension reforms. Under enhanced Work Bonus arrangements, the first $250 earned in a fortnight from employment by age pensioners is excluded from the pension income test. That is, age pensioners can now have greater levels of income from employment before their pension rate is reduced.

The maximum base rate of the Age Pension is increased twice a year, in March and September, in line with changes in prices and wages. Through the Government’s pension reforms, from 20 September 2009, pension rates were increased and the maximum single base rate of pension was raised to two-thirds of the combined partnered rate. New pension reform indexation arrangements that better reflect the cost of living increases experienced by pensioners were also introduced in the pension reforms. The Age Pension base rate is now indexed by the greater of the movement in the Consumer Price Index or the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index. From 20 March 2010, the benchmark for single pensioners increased from 25% to around 28% of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (42% for pensioner couples combined).

Wife Pension and Widow B Pension were closed to new claimants in the 1990s as these dependency-based payments do not promote participation by women of workforce age.

Supplementary assistance is provided to eligible recipients through Rent Assistance for private renters, Remote Area Allowance for eligible recipients and concession cards. Pensioners may choose to receive a proportion of the Pension Supplement quarterly, instead of fortnightly, to assist with budgeting. Also, the supplementary payments Pharmaceutical Allowance, Utilities Allowance and Telephone Allowance were combined with the Pension GST Supplement into a new Pension Supplement for most pensioners. Seniors Concession Allowance and Telephone Allowance were combined into a Seniors Supplement for self-funded retirees who hold the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

The number of age pensioners and the expenditure on the Age Pension is shown in table 9.12.


9.12 AGE PENSIONERS(a)
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11

Males
no.
815 912
868 179
906 769
939 442
967 291
Females
no.
1 136 774
1 171 126
1 210 761
1 218 861
1 257 836
Persons
no.
1 952 686
2 039 305
2 117 530
2 158 303
2 225 127
Total payments
$'000
22 598 475
24 577 319
28 098 263
29 384 503
32 151 505

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


AGED CARE

The Australian Government aims to ensure that all frail older Australians have timely access to appropriate care and support services as they age, by providing: information assessment and referral mechanisms, needs-based planning arrangements, support for special needs groups and for carers, a choice of service types, and high quality, accessible and affordable care through a safe and secure aged care system. Particular groups (notably Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) can require various services at a younger age. One in four people aged 70 years and over plus Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50–69 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.


National health and aged care reform

The Australian Government, in partnership with all states and territories, committed to the National Health Reform Agreement on 2 August 2011. The agreement cements the commitment made at the 13 February 2011 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting and will see all governments working together to reform the health system.

At the COAG meeting, the Australian Government and state and territory governments signed the Heads of Agreement – National Health Reform. The Heads of Agreement – National Health Reform reaffirmed earlier decisions taken under the National Health and Hospitals Network Agreement that (other than in Victoria and WA):
  • The Australian Government will take:
    • full policy and funding responsibility for aged care services (for all people 65 years or over and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50–64 years), including those provided under the Home and Community Care (HACC) Program and
    • funding responsibility for specialist disability services delivered under the National Disability Agreement for people aged 65 years or over and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50–64 years.
  • State and territory governments will take:
    • full policy and funding responsibility for disability services for people aged under 65 years and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged under 50 years, including those currently provided under the HACC Program, and
    • funding responsibility for packaged community care and residential care delivered through aged care programs to people aged under 65 years (except for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50–64 years).
It has been agreed that the HACC Program reforms will occur over two phases (except in Victoria and WA).
  • Phase 1: From 1 July 2011 until 30 June 2012 – the Australian Government will continue to fund state and territory governments to manage the HACC Program, but the relative funding contributions of governments will change. The Australian Government will fully fund HACC services for all people aged 65 years or over and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50–64 years.
  • Phase 2: From 1 July 2012 – the Australian Government will fund and manage the HACC Program services for clients aged 65 years and over and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people clients aged 50–64 years. State and territory governments will fund and manage the HACC Program services for clients aged under 65 years and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients aged under 50 years.

Until otherwise agreed, the changes to roles and responsibilities for basic community care, aged care and disability services and the reconciliation arrangements do not apply to Victoria and Western Australia. In these states, basic community care will continue to be delivered under HACC as a joint Commonwealth–state funded program. The Commonwealth and these states will maintain bilateral agreements for that purpose.

A key objective in implementing the new arrangements will be to minimise disruption for care recipients and providers in both the aged care and disability support systems. In 2011–12, for aged care the Australian Government will develop and implement the program framework and information technology systems needed to support these changes. In the meantime, care recipients will continue to receive services from their current providers, while administration and funding transitions to the new arrangements.

Other Australian Government aged care initiatives that have been implemented from 1 July 2011 include:
  • the introduction of one-stop shops, beginning with a new national telephone number and improved website, with the aim of making it easier for older people and their carers to access information about aged care,
  • effective from 1 October 2011, enhanced prudential regulations to better protect the bonds paid by older people to residential aged care providers, and
  • funding to state and territory governments to contribute to ensuring that long stay older patients receive appropriate care while they remain in hospital for longer than would otherwise be necessary while they secure an appropriate community or residential aged care place.


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 2010–11, the Australian Government provided $80.8 million to state and territory governments for the operation of 108 ACATs.

Places and funding

Aged care places are allocated in proportion to the number of people aged 70 years and older in the general population, and current levels of service provision, including newly allocated places that have not yet become operational. Allocation takes account of people with special needs, including people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Table 9.13 shows the number of operational aged care places at 30 June in each of the years from 2006–07 to 2010–11. There were 247,379 operational aged care places at 30 June 2011, equating to a ratio of 114.3 places per 1,000 people aged 70 years or older. There were 258,626 places allocated at 30 June 2010. The Australian Government’s expenditure on aged care in 2010–11 was $11.02 billion (includes expenditure by the Department of Veteran's Affairs on residential aged care).


9.13 NUMBER OF AGED CARE PLACES(a)
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11

Operational
Transition care
1 594
1,963
2 228
2 698
3 349
Community care(b)
42 316
46 475
47 431
51 530
58 471
Residential care
169 594
174 669
178 379
182 936
185 559
Total Operational
213 504
223 107
228 038
237 164
247 379
Allocated
236 748
247 371
257 978
258 626
nya

nya not yet available
(a) As at 30 June, includes flexible care places attributed as residential or community care.
(b) Includes Community Aged Care Packages and Extended Aged Care at Home Packages. From 2010–11, includes Consumer Directed Care packages.
Source: Department of Health and Ageing.


Transition care

The Transition Care Program is a jointly funded program between the Australian Government and the state and territory governments. It assists older people when they are discharged from hospital and provides them with time-limited, goal-oriented and therapy-focused packages of services after a hospital stay. These packages include low intensity therapy (such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy), social work and nursing support or personal care. Transition care is designed to improve older people’s independence and confidence after a hospital stay. It allows them to return home rather than prematurely enter residential care. The program also gives older people and their families and carers time to consider 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 multi-purpose 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.

The Australian Government is also funding Consumer Directed Care (CDC) in Australian Government community aged care programs to test an alternative model of care. CDC is a two year initiative which commenced in 2010–11 and provides older people and their carers with greater involvement and control over the design and delivery of community care services provided to them.

Table 9.14 shows Australian Government expenditure on selected aged care programs.


9.14 EXPENDITURE FOR SELECTED AGED CARE PROGRAMS
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m

Community care programs
Home and Community Care (HACC) Program
928.4
1 006.7
1 094.4
1 186.7
1 290.9
Community Aged Care Packages (CACP) Program
404.8
447.8
479.7
508.7
531.7
Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH) Program
103.9
198.8
256.3
305.6
364.8
Other aged care programs
Aged Care Assessment
61.5
69.3
72.3
76.4
69.3
Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged (ACHA) Program
2.7
3.5
4.3
4.4
4.6
National Respite for Carers Program (NRCP)
166.8
173.5
184.1
200.0
202.9
Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres (CRCC)
16.2
16.4
17.4
18.0
17.8
Dementia Specific Programs(a)
25.2
31.2
31.4
28.7
31.5
Day Therapy Centres
33.9
34.6
34.8
36.4
36.2
National Continence Management Strategy (NCMS)
2.5
4.2
3.8
2.8
3.8

(a) Excludes national dementia initiatives funded under NRCP.
Source: Department of Health and Ageing.


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 can be found in chapter 10 HOUSING.


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 of 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 9.15 shows the number of pensioners by type and total expenditure on disability and war widow(er)s' pensions.


9.15 DISABILITY AND WAR WIDOW(ER)S’ PENSIONERS(a)
Recipient
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11

Incapacitated veterans
no.
139 727
134 311
128 146
122 355
116 498
General Rate - from 10% to 100%
no.
96 174
91 057
85 630
80 737
76 168
Extreme Disablement Adjustment
no.
13 582
12 946
12 137
11 315
10 219
Intermediate Rate
no.
917
880
842
825
796
Special Rate (TPI or equivalent)
no.
29 054
29 428
29 537
29 478
29 315
Wives and widows(b)
no.
29 627
26 815
24 299
. .
. .
Children(b)
no.
91
49
14
. .
. .
War widows and widowers(c)
no.
110 590
108 023
104 760
101 090
96 761
Orphans
no.
198
193
201
190
187
Other dependants
no.
500
485
469
449
431
Total(d)
no.
278 927
268 125
256 201
222 876
212 749
Total expenditure(e)
$'000
2 935 541
3 053 007
3 132 713
3 292 895
3 370 980

. . not applicable
(a) Number of recipients as at the last payday/pay period in June.
(b) Wives/children of incapacitated veterans and widows of deceased veterans who did not die from an accepted war caused condition were granted dependant pension up until 6 June 1985. No new grants have been made since and those who did not choose to commute their payments to a lump sum had their payments frozen. In September 2009, dependant pension ceased to be payable.
(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.
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 2009, there were 3,750 beneficiaries. Total expenditure in 2008–09 was $15.3 million and in June 2010 the corresponding figures were 3,380 and $16.4 million 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 9.16 summarises activities under these Acts for financial years 2007–08 to 2010–11.


9.16 MILITARY COMPENSATION AND REHABILITATION SERVICE, Activities
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11
SRCA(a)
MRCA(b)
SRCA(a)
MRCA(b)
SRCA(a)
MRCA(b)
SRCA(a)
MRCA(b)

Total lump sum and incapacity payees for 12 months ended 30 June (incl. dependent children)
no.
4 338
1 009
3 857
1 327
3 653
1 785
3 597
1 929
New primary injury claims received
no.
3 327
2 450
3 469
3 180
3 430
3 181
3 161
3 386
New permanent impairment claims received
no.
3 326
1 481
2 886
1 336
3 167
1 538
2 936
1 935
New rehabilitation referrals received
no.
530
345
503
345
467
374
496
474
New reconsideration requests received
no.
869
248
733
295
740
372
746
477
New applications made to the AAT(c)
no.
190
73
170
48
117
31
122
44
All accounts paid (incl. medical household services and attendant care)
no.
100 769
9 179
100 027
8 782
105 630
12 537
105 249
14 812
Total Expenditure
$'000
113 588
30 838
119 286
41 824
110 844
62 416
114 367
77 096

(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 the Special (TPI) Rate of disability pension or where the partner is 50 years of age or over and the veteran is receiving disability pension above 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 support payment under the Social Security Act (Cwlth) and an Adjusted Disability Pension under the Veterans' Entitlements Act (Cwlth). Self-funded retirees may be eligible for Seniors Supplement to assist with payment of energy, rates, water and sewerage expenses and telephone and Internet expenses.

Table 9.17 shows the total number of recipients and annual expenditure on service pensions.


9.17 SERVICE PENSIONERS(a)
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11

Veterans
Old age no.
94 903
89 893
83 838
79 521
75 663
Permanently incapacitated no.
18 742
18 641
18 180
15 812
12 964
Tuberculosis(b) no.
53
46
35
30
25
Total no.
113 698
108 580
102 053
95 363
88 652
Wives and widows no.
96 864
93 959
88 972
83 879
78 716
Total no.
210 562
202 539
191 025
179 242
167 368
Total expenditure(c) $'000
2 910 271
2 949 160
3 199 020
2 979 363
2 955 080

(a) Number of recipients as at the last payday/pay period 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.


Defence Service Homes Scheme: loans and insurance

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 2010 and 2011, 76,320 and 73,940 homes respectively, were insured. The corresponding numbers of loan accounts were 22,913 and 20,329, while the corresponding amounts of subsidy paid were $3.6 million and $3.2 million.


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. Veteran service pensioners who satisfy the treatment benefits means test are also eligible for comprehensive health care. People whose disabilities have been accepted by the DVA as service-related are eligible for health care through DVA, or to reimbursement of the costs of reasonable treatment. Many veterans are provided with treatment through DVA 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 9.18 shows use of the VVCS.


9.18 VETERANS AND VETERANS FAMILIES COUNSELLING SERVICE(a)
Type of counselling
2006–07
2007–08(b)
2008–09(b)
2009–10
2010–11

Centre-based consultation
sessions
23 197
21 526
19 990
17 865
17 323
Group session consultation
hours
10 605
10 067
9 997
8 484
9 270
Country outreach consultation
sessions
36 306
30 618
34 028
37 720
40 733
Intake and assessment(c)
sessions
. .
5 964
11 458
10 791
11 647

. . not applicable
(a) Prior to April 2007 the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service was known as the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service.
(b) Previously published figures for 2007–08 and 2008–09 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 jobseekers aged 21 years or over and under age pension age. Newstart Allowance recipients have access to employment services that provide a range of integrated services and include special help for retrenched workers and youth. Recipients also 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 before 1 July 2006 can remain on this payment until their youngest child turns 16 as long as they continue 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. Since 1 July 2011, if additional children come into a person's care, the person will no longer be covered by these transitional arrangements in respect of the additional children.

Jobseekers 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 jobseekers 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 jobseekers with disability, injury or health conditions find work. All eligible jobseekers 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, an income support payment for people in severe financial hardship who are not eligible for any other type of payment and who have no other means of support or capacity to earn a sufficient livelihood
  • Bereavement Allowance, a short-term payment for people without dependent children whose partner has recently died, and
  • 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, 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 9.19 shows the number of Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment and other working age allowances recipients, together with expenditure on these allowances.


9.19 WORKING AGE ALLOWANCES(a)(b)
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
201011

Newstart Allowance
Short-term (less than 12 months)
Males
no.
104 439
100 418
176 906
143 736
125 824
Females
no.
55 764
55 674
84 698
78 641
71 179
Persons
no.
160 203
156 092
261 604
222 377
197 003
Long-term (12 months and over)
Males
no.
158 344
142 322
149 200
195 301
188 156
Females
no.
99 246
100 987
109 390
136 215
142 321
Persons
no.
257 590
243 309
258 590
331 516
330 477
Total payments
$'000
4 493 978
4 180 817
4 885 930
6 136 811
6 148 714
Parenting Payment
Single
Males
no.
25 677
20 559
18 348
16 793
15 749
Females
no.
369 818
340 074
325 748
316 719
310 499
Persons
no.
395 495
360 633
344 096
333 512
326 248
Total payments
$'000
4 696 298
4 368 571
4 281 362
4 389 343
4 531 454
Partnered
Persons
no.
144 427
125 922
129 365
124 910
117 754
Total payments
$'000
1 216 792
1 024 171
1 015 057
1 077 780
1 048 067
Mature Age Allowance
Recipients
no.
5 032
754
Total payments
$'000
87 831
28 939
840
Partner Allowance(c)
Recipients
no.
45 988
38 456
29 369
24 054
17 147
Total payments
$'000
522 075
431 064
375 971
280 651
216 422
Widow Allowance
Recipients
no.
40 247
39 131
36 086
33 886
29 341
Total payments
$'000
505 342
480 081
508 317
441 134
405 975
Sickness Allowance
Recipients
no.
7 624
7 437
6 968
6 703
6 705
Total payments
$'000
85 191
69 795
69 562
83 662
85 159
Pensioner Education Supplement
Recipients
no.
47 362
46 713
48 386
57 345
54 310
Total payments
$'000
73 489
83 363
92 580
79 350
85 877

— nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) Number of recipients as at the last payday/pay period 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 Pension

Disability Support Pension (DSP) is an income support payment for people with a physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment assessed at 20 points or more under the impairment tables and who have a continuing inability to work. This includes being unable to work for at least 15 hours a week, at or above the relevant minimum wage, independently of a program of support (or be re-skilled for work) within the next two years.

DSP is income and assets tested. The assessable income and assets of a person receiving DSP, and their partner (if applicable), must be below certain amounts for full or part pension to be payable. Income and assets tests do not apply to blind DSP recipients.

DSP is paid at the same rate as Age Pension, for people aged 21 and over, and includes the Pension Supplement.

Youth rates apply to those under age 21 without children and include a Youth Disability Supplement. DSP youth rates are not subject to parental income or assets tests. People receiving youth rates of DSP also receive Pharmaceutical Allowance, Utilities Allowance and Telephone Allowance if eligible.

People receiving DSP also receive a Pensioner Concession Card, and may be eligible for additional assistance including Rent Assistance, Mobility Allowance, the Pensioner Education Supplement and an Education Entry Payment.

DSP recipients with some capacity to work are encouraged and supported to work where possible. From 1 July 2012 certain DSP recipients under age 35 will be required to attend participation interviews with Centrelink to develop an individualised participation plan aimed at building their capacity.

Disability Employment Services are available to help jobseekers with disability, injury or health conditions find work. All eligible jobseekers 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.

Table 9.20 shows the number of recipients of Disability Support Pension, and expenditure by payment type.


9.20 SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY(a)
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11

Disability Support Pension
Males
no.
413 033
413 484
422 290
433 456
446 600
Females
no.
301 123
318 883
334 828
359 125
372 250
Persons
no.
714 156
732 367
757 118
792 581
818 850
Total payments
$'000
8 651 399
9 370 000
10 918 088
11 859 670
13 355 744
Mobility Allowance
Recipients
no.
54 942
55 299
56 080
57 349
58 868
Total payments
$'000
106 371
114 070
118 546
123 983
129 999

a) Number of recipients as at the last payday/pay period in June.
Source: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.


National Disability Strategy

The National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 was formally endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 13 February 2011 and launched by the Australian Government on 18 March 2011. This represents the first time in Australia’s history that all governments have committed to a unified, national approach to improving the lives of people with disability, their families and carers.

The strategy outlines a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation, and create a more inclusive society. It will guide public policy across governments and aims to bring about changes to all mainstream services and programs, as well as community infrastructure, to ensure they are accessible and responsive to the needs of people with disability. This change is important to ensuring that people with disability have the same opportunities as other Australians – a quality education, good health, economic security, a job where possible, access to buildings and transport, and strong social networks and supports.

The strategy will also be an important mechanism to ensure that the principles underpinning the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are incorporated into policies, services and programs affecting people with disability, their families and carers.

The purpose of the strategy is to:
  • establish a high level policy framework to give coherence to, and guide government activity across mainstream and disability-specific areas of public policy
  • drive improved performance of mainstream services in delivering outcomes for people with disability
  • give visibility to disability issues and ensure they are included in the development and implementation of all public policy that impacts on people with disability, and
  • provide national leadership toward greater inclusion of people with disability.

The strategy focuses on six public policy areas to drive better outcomes for people with disability:
  1. inclusive and accessible communities – the physical environment including public transport, parks, buildings and housing, digital information and communications technologies, and civic life including social, sporting, recreational and cultural life
  2. rights protection, justice and legislation – statutory protections such as anti-discrimination measures, complaints mechanisms, advocacy, and the electoral and justice systems
  3. economic security – jobs, business opportunities, financial independence, adequate income support for those not able to work, and housing
  4. personal and community support – inclusion and participation in the community, person-centred care and support provided by specialist disability services and mainstream services, and informal care and support
  5. learning and skills – early childhood education and care, schools, further education, vocational education, transitions from education to employment, and life-long learning, and
  6. health and wellbeing – health services, health promotion and the interaction between health and disability systems, and wellbeing and enjoyment of life.

Under each of the areas of policy action, governments have agreed to policy directions, together with areas for future action. The strategy will be implemented in collaboration with people with disability, their families and carers, and other key stakeholders, and will be reviewed and amended as necessary to ensure it continues to drive better outcomes for people with disability.

A first year report on the strategy will be presented to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in February 2012. Every two years, a high level progress report will track achievements under the strategy and provide a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first biennial progress report will be presented to COAG in February 2014.


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 Australian Government will provide more than $7.6 billion in funding over five and a half years to the state and territory governments for specialist disability services. The agreement means that in 2014–15 the Commonwealth Government's contribution will exceed $1.4 billion, compared to $620 million in 2007.

Under the agreement, the Australian Government is responsible for employment and income support, while 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 Australian Government is providing funding to state and territory governments for more services to help with the reform of the disability service system.


Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care initiative


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 under the age of 65 years in residential aged care, of whom 1,007 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 $244 million in matched funding in the Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC) initiative, for a five-year period. As funding for the YPIRAC initiative is now included as part of National Disability Specific Purpose Payment, funding is therefore ongoing.

The aim of the initiative 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 choose to remain in residential aged care. The initial priority group is people under 50 years of age; however, where possible, people aged less than 65 years are also included.

In June 2010, there were around 715 people under the age of 50 years in residential aged care compared to 1,007 in June 2006, a reduction of 29%. Since the initiative began, 1,141 younger people with disability have been assisted with YPIRAC services.


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 that 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 jobseekers 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 jobseekers 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.

All eligible jobseekers with disability will have access to individually tailored and comprehensive services that meet their needs including capacity building, training, work experience and other interventions to help participants obtain and maintain suitable employment.

A key distinguishing feature of Disability Employment Services is its capacity to support and manage a participant’s condition in the workplace, along with providing ongoing support in the workplace for as long as it is required.


Supported employment

The Australian Government funds Australian Disability Enterprises to help them with the cost of supporting people with moderate to severe disability who need substantial ongoing support to maintain employment.

Australian Disability Enterprises are commercial enterprises employing people with disability to engage in a wide variety of work tasks such as packaging, assembly, production, recycling, screen printing, plant nursery, garden maintenance and landscaping, cleaning services, laundry services and food services. An Australian Disability Enterprise gives people with disability the opportunity to have a real job, with real wages, in a real business.

In 2010–11, 202 organisations in 321 outlets were funded across Australia to provide supported employment to 22,531 people with disability.


Community-based mental health support

Community-based mental health support services play an important role in helping people with mental illness and their families and carers to manage the impact of mental illness. The Targeted Community Care (Mental Health) Program funds flexible community-based mental health services that assist individuals affected by mental illness to live more independent lives and provide practical assistance and support to their families and carers.

Under Targeted Community Care:
  • Personal Helpers and Mentors services provide recovery support for individuals whose lives have been severely affected by mental illness.
  • Family Mental Health Support services provide early intervention support to assist vulnerable families with children and young people who are affected by mental illness.
  • Mental Health Respite: Carer Support services provide carers and families of people with mental illness with a range of services, including respite care and activities such as peer support and education that assist them in their caring role.

Through the 2011–12 Budget, $269.3 million will be invested over five years in these community-based mental health support services to assist more than 37,000 Australians with mental illness and their carers.


CARERS

Carers play an important role in providing daily care and support to people with disability, people with 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 affect the carer who may need additional support to ensure that they have the opportunity to enjoy optimum health, social, and economic wellbeing, and to participate in family, social and community life, employment and education. There are 2.6 million carers in Australia and the demand for carers is expected to increase as the population ages.

Income support

There are two main forms of financial support for carers. Carer Payment is an income and assets tested income support payment paid at the same rate as other social security pensions to people who, because of the demands of their caring role, are unable to support themselves through substantial paid employment. The payment includes the Pension Supplement which combines the full value of Utilities Allowance, Pharmaceutical Allowance, the GST Supplement and Internet rate of Telephone Allowance into one payment.

Carer Allowance is a supplementary payment for carers who provide daily care and attention in a private home for people with disability or severe medical condition who need significant additional care and attention. Carer Allowance is not income and assets tested. On 1 July 2010, a single assessment process for Carer Payment (child) and Carer Allowance (child) was introduced.

A Carer Supplement of $600 was introduced in 2009 and 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, and
  • recipients of Department of Veterans’ Affairs Carer Service pension.

The Carer Supplement is paid to carers who are in receipt of a qualifying payment for the period that covers 1 July each year. The Child Disability Assistance Payment is a $1,000 annual payment made in July for a child with disability under 16 years who attracts a payment of Carer Allowance for their carer. Table 9.21 shows the number of recipients and expenditure on support for carers.


9.21 SUPPORT FOR CARERS(a)
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11

Carer Payment
Recipients
no.
116 614
130 657
146 870
168 913
186 065
Total payments(b)
$'000
1 408 052
1 690 889
1 938 825
2 269 422
2 729 643
Carer Allowance
Recipients
no.
393 263
422 905
461 086
495 733
521 033
Total payments(b)
$'000
1 349 030
1 591 330
1 801 012
1 477 650
1 604 734

(a) Numbers are as at the last payday/pay period in June.
(b) Includes some 'one-off' bonus payments in 2006-07 and 2008–09. For Carer Allowance, includes Child Disability Assistance Payments in 2007–08.
Source: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


Carer services and assistance

To help carers cope with the daily challenges of being a carer, the Australian Government funds the national network of Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres to deliver respite support programs including Respite Support for Carers of Young People with Severe or Profound Disability and Young Carers Respite and Information Services. The Australian Government also funds services delivered through the HACC Program and practical and financial support. 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.

National Carer Recognition Framework

The Australian Government has implemented the National Carer Recognition Framework in recognition of the contribution that carers make to society. The framework comprises two elements: the Carer Recognition Act 2010 (Cwlth) and the National Carer Strategy.

The Carer Recognition Act 2010 (Cwlth) came into effect on 18 November 2010 to formally recognise carers. The Act aims to ensure that carers are considered in the development, implementation and evaluation of Australian Government policies, programs and services that directly affect them or the person they care for.

The National Carer Strategy was launched on 3 August 2011. The strategy is the Australian Government’s long-term commitment to better support carers and to ensure that they have rights, choices, opportunities and capabilities to participate in work, community and family life. The strategy builds on what the Australian Government already provides for carers and is supported by a $60 million dollar package of measures to improve carers’ economic security and to raise community awareness of the contribution of carers. State and territory governments have welcomed the strategy and have committed to identifying complementary initiatives to better support carers.

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, the Council of Australian Governments (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. 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 be an Australian resident 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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 9.22 shows the number of recipients of, and the expenditure on, youth and student support.


9.22 YOUTH AND STUDENT SUPPORT(a)
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11

Youth Allowance (YA)
Full-time students
no.
266 383
256 634
278 664
295 763
325 224
Other(b)
no.
68 698
64 907
82 907
88 459
85 972
Total YA population
no.
335 081
321 541
361 571
384 222
411 196
Total YA payments
$'000
2 073 725
2 036 141
2 500 764
2 789 369
3 263 251
Austudy(c)
Recipients
no.
27 869
28 776
34 175
31 860
39,213
Total payments
$'000
217 540
227 894
353 500
343 385
418 819
ABSTUDY(c)
Recipients(c)
no.
34 489
33 776
34 612
36 255
37 107
Total payments
$'000
155 603
157 934
191 026
199 149
210 846

(a) Number of recipients as at the last payday in June. Australian Apprentices became eligible for income support from 1 July 2005 and are included in the above figures.
(b) Jobseekers 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. Figures for 2006–07 have been revised with the new methodology to allow comparison with later years.
Source: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.


Youth services and support

Young jobseekers 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. There are also Job Services Australia providers that are youth specialists.

Young jobseekers 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 jobseekers with 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 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 Family Tax Benefit (FTB); Child Care Benefit; Child Care Tax Rebate; Jobs, Education and Training Child Care fee assistance; and the Baby Bonus and Paid Parental Leave (PPL). The highest rates of payment go 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. Unlike FTB Part A, 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.

Baby Bonus is available to families following the birth (including still birth) or adoption of a baby up to the age of two years. Baby Bonus recognises the extra costs incurred at the time of a new birth or the adoption of a very young child.

The Paid Parental Leave (PPL) Scheme is an entitlement for working parents of children born or adopted from 1 January 2011. Eligible working parents can get 18 weeks of government funded Parental Leave Pay at the rate of the National Minimum Wage. This pay is taxable.

The scheme provides financial support to families to enable more parents to stay at home and care for their children full-time during the vital early months following birth or adoption. To be eligible for the scheme, a person must be the primary carer of a child, and meet the residency, work and income tests. Employers are required to provide government-funded Parental Leave Pay to their eligible, long-term employees. Other payments to families include Maternity Immunisation Allowance and Double Orphan Pension.

Table 9.23 shows the number of recipients of, and the expenditure on, family assistance.


9.23 FAMILY ASSISTANCE
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10
2010–11

Family Tax Benefit
Centrelink
Recipients(a)
Part A – fortnightly instalments(b)
no.
1 769 091
1 734 000
1 773 000
1 738 000
1 638 000
Part B – fortnightly instalments(b)
no.
1 376 917
1 359 000
1 365 000
1 381 000
1 357 000
Lump sum payments(c)
no.
. .
62 503
80 774
65 184
156 000
Claims lodged with ATO but to be paid by the FAO(d)
no.
8 262
13 177
24 015
. .
. .
Total payments (Part A and Part B)(e)
$'000
14 042 785
14 143 858
17 258 654
18 021 143
18 032 512
Australian Taxation Office(d)
Recipients(a)(f)
Paid on assessment
no.
145 276
150 875
159 585
. .
. .
Payments
Paid on assessment(f)
$'000
489 000
. .
. .
. .
. .
Reconciliation credits(e)(f)
$'000
1 478 000
1 661 000
1 677 000
. .
. .
Family Assistance Scheme
$'000
2 130
. .
. .
. .
. .
Baby Bonus
Recipients
no.
286 770
285 000
278 000
268 000
219 000
Payments(g)
$'000
1 161 616
1 213 174
1 399 926
1 398 431
1 176 973
Paid Parental Leave
Recipients(h)
no.
. .
. .
. .
. .
43 000
Payments
$’000
. .
. .
. .
. .
604 200
Maternity Immunisation Allowance
Recipients
no.
223 567
260 000
269 000
270 000
267 000
Payments(g)
$'000
56 234
61 290
50 411
34 954
35 813
Double Orphan Pension
Recipients
no.
1 330
1 400
1 400
1 400
1 300
Payments(g)
$'000
2 835
3 038
3 105
3 303
3 341

. . not applicable
(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 recipients eligible for payment at the time of data extraction (in June of the relevant tax year). It does not show all the recipients 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) From 1 July 2009, claims for family tax benefit, including previous year claims, were no longer accepted by the ATO.
(e) This refers to payments to recipients 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.
(f) Number of recipients and expenditure refer to FTB payments made by the ATO within the relevant financial year.
(g) Expenditure refers to total payments to end of June of the relevant tax year.
(h) An additional 11,500 families were eligible for PPL for births prior to 1 July 2011, but had not commenced payment by early August.
Source: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


Services for families

The Family Support Program (FSP) helps to support families, particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged families, to improve child wellbeing and development, safety and family functioning through the provision of integrated support services.

This program funds a range of non-government organisations to provide preventative and early intervention family support services, focusing on family relationships, parenting and family law services to help navigate life's transitions, and to help families who are vulnerable to poor outcomes to build their resources and capabilities to enable more positive family functioning.

The Family Support Program provides broad-based services that complement other Australian Government programs such as family payments and child care. The FSP also provides more intensive assistance in disadvantaged areas that complements the important roles of other programs and agencies, including the statutory responsibility for child protection held by state and territory governments.

From 1 July 2011, the Family Support Program will comprise two core streams:
  1. Family and Children's Services and
  2. Family Law Services.

The Family and Children's Services will be streamlined to four services types:
  • Communities for Children Services: including Indigenous Parenting Support Services to provide prevention and early intervention services to families with children up to age 12 and who are at risk of disadvantage
  • Family and Relationship Services: dealing with adult relationship issues, counselling for young people and children, and broader parenting support
  • Specialist Services: which have particular knowledge and skills for dealing with vulnerable families affected by issues such as drugs, violence and trauma, and
  • Community Playgroups: to support parents with young children.

The Family Law Services stream aims to provide alternatives to formal legal processes for families who are separated, separating or in dispute to improve their relationships in the best interests of children. These services are funded through the Attorney-General’s Department.

Family Law Services are delivered through six activity types:
  • Family Relationship Centres
  • Post Separation Co-operative Parenting
  • Supporting Children after Separation Program
  • Parenting Orders Program
  • Children’s Contact Services and
  • Family Dispute Resolution.

Table 9.24 shows the number of clients assisted under Family Relationship Services and Children and Parenting Services in the 2010–11 financial year.


9.24 FAMILY RELATIONSHIP SERVICES/CHILDREN AND PARENTING SERVICES
2010–11

Family Relationship Services
Number of clients assisted(a)
Registered
113 181
Unregistered
124 477
Mensline calls
51 308
Children and Parenting Services
Number of clients assisted(b)
549 105

(a) As at 15 August 2011. Figures include Family Counselling services, which are jointly funded by FaHCSIA and the Attorney-General’s Department.
(b) Includes both engagement with low-intensity services, such as community playgroups, and more intensive assistance, such as Responding Early Assisting Children.
Source: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.


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 2010–11 were $1.2 billion.

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 Benefit approved 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 CCB approved child care, and provides financial assistance that is proportionally higher for lower income families. Eligible families can have CCB paid directly to the CCB 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 Rebate (CCR) is a payment available to working families using CCB approved child care for work, training or study purposes. Families can receive 50% of out-of-pocket child care expenses up to an annual cap.

From the 2006–07 financial year, eligible families were paid their CCR 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 CCR due to low or no tax liability were able to claim the full rebate.

In the 2009 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 CCR. The CCR is not income-tested, so working families using CCB approved child care can receive this assistance regardless of their income.

Previously, the CCR covered 30% of approved out-of-pocket child care costs, up to a maximum of $4,354 per child per year. In July 2008, the rate of the rebate increased significantly to cover 50% of out-of-pocket costs up to a maximum of $7,500 per child per year. From July 2008, families have also been able to receive the CCR 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.

For the 2009–10 and 2010–11 financial years, the rate of the rebate covered 50% of out-of-pocket costs up to the maximum indexed rate of $7,778 and $7,941 respectively, per child per year.

For the 2011–12, 2012–13 and 2013–14 income years, the CCR is capped at $7,500 per child per year for CCB approved child care. From July 2011, families have the further option to receive the CCR paid fortnightly, either directly to their bank account or through their CCB approved child care service provider as a fee reduction. Families can still choose to receive their CCR paid quarterly or annually as a lump sum directly to their bank account.

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 9.25 shows the number of recipients of and expenditure on child care support.


9.25 CHILD CARE SUPPORT(a)
2005–06
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
2009–10

Child Care Benefit (CCB)
Approved service(a)
no.
734 600
749 500
7 942 100
773 350
806 550
Registered carers(b)
no.
58 200
52 000
60 200
nya
nya
Payments
$'000
1 501 287
1 452 379
1 723 839
1 621 515
1 819 218
Jobs Education and Training (JET) Child Care
Recipients(c)
no.
18 188
18 364
20 310
22 720
28 530
Payments
$'000
21 658
43 035
46 281
nya
44 724

nya not yet available
(a) Number of recipients 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 the registered care rate.
(c) Number of parents receiving a JETCCFA assessment.
Source: Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.


Child Care Services Support Program (CCSSP)

The CCSSP complements assistance provided to families through Child Care Benefit (CCB). Funding to CCSSP was $298 million 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 that similar services in similar circumstances receive the same funding.


Child Care Management System (CCMS)

Over $73 million 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, introduced in 2008, provides students with disability, aged 12 to 18 years, and their families, with quality outside school hours care. Outside schools hours care includes before school, after school 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 $27.6 million 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 $220 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 16,248 children and 14,736 children have accessed early intervention funding.


Better Start for Children with Disability initiative

Building on the success of the Helping Children with Autism package, a new initiative – A Better Start for Children with Disability – commenced on 1 July 2011. The Australian Government has committed $147 million over four years to increase access to targeted early intervention services for children with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Fragile X syndrome, and moderate or greater vision or hearing impairments. Children with a confirmed diagnosis of one of the listed disabilities must be under 6 years of age to register for the early intervention funding, with the funding being available until they turn 7.

The funding also includes access to new allied health-related Medicare items. Registration for the early intervention funding is managed by Carers Australia through its state and territory associations.

As at 23 September, over 1,676 children had been registered. In the first year of operation, it is expected that around 6,000 children with the listed disabilities will register.


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 affect this 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 Community Investment Program aims to build social inclusion for vulnerable people by supporting organisations to recognise, evaluate and address key problems in communities. Key strategies under the program include:
  • Community Projects – The Government is providing over $16 million in funding over three years to 60 not-for-profit organisations to deliver responsive and integrated services that meet local community needs and help individuals participate in their community.
  • Peak community-based organisations – The Government provides financial support to a range of peak community-based organisations. These peak organisations represent the interests of the community in six broad areas: welfare, family, community, children, homelessness and disability. The organisations contribute to government policy and communicate Government information to their memberships and the sectors they represent.
  • Community Support Services – In 2011–12, $13.7 million is allocated to 63 organisations to provide the Community Support Service across 87 locations across Australia. Community Support Service supports social inclusion and community cohesion and assists in addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage by better linking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to broader community services.
  • Volunteer Grants – These are grants of between $1,000 and $5,000 to not-for-profit community organisations to assist and support the valuable work of their volunteers. The grants allow them to purchase small equipment items such as computers, photocopiers, first aid kits, and contribute to volunteers' fuel costs incurred when carrying out their voluntary work. In 2011–12, the Government is supporting Australian volunteers by providing $16 million in discretionary grants to more than 4,000 volunteering organisations under the program.
  • Broadband for Seniors – This initiative supports older Australians in gaining the confidence and skills they need to use new technology. The initiative provides free access to computers and the Internet, as well as training in basic computing skills. The Government will invest $10.4 million to June 2015 to support the 2,000 kiosks established across Australia.


Financial inclusion and capability

In 2010–11, $123 million was provided through the Financial Management Program (FMP). The FMP aims to improve the financial resilience of vulnerable individuals and families through several mechanisms, including financial counselling, crisis assistance, asset-building incentives such as matched savings schemes, and minimising the impacts of problem gambling.

In 2010–11, over one million people accessed support services funded under the FMP.

Financial Management Program services are voluntary, free and confidential. The services are available to people who are experiencing personal financial difficulties due to circumstances such as unemployment, sickness, credit over-commitment and family breakdown or to individuals who would like to build their financial skills. Service strategies include:
  • Emergency Relief – Emergency Relief services provide support to address immediate needs in time of crisis. Assistance 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people including income management participants. They provide practical and essential support to help people build longer-term capability to manage their money better and increase financial resilience. They do not provide financial advice or deal with complex financial/legal matters but will facilitate access to financial counsellors for help with complex issues.
  • Microfinance – Targeted towards building long-term financial resilience, microfinance programs that help vulnerable Australians build their financial self-reliance. These services assist individuals and families, particularly those on low incomes, to develop long-term practical financial management skills and increase their understanding of financial products and services.
  • Community Development Financial Institutions pilot – The 12 month pilot supports Community Development Financial Institutions to provide microfinance and microenterprise loans and financial literacy education to marginalised Australians who are not able to access mainstream financial services, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and low-income Australians.
  • 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.

The Government is also continuing to work with state and territory governments to expand the evidence base for problem gambling. The Government provided funding for Gambling Research Australia to commission national research into problem gambling. Gambling Research Australia is jointly funded by the Australian and state and territory governments.

The Government also funded the evaluation of voluntary pre-commitment trials in South Australia, and the evaluation of the Gambling Help Online website, which is jointly funded by state and territory governments.


Welfare Payments Reform – Income Management

Northern Territory

Legislation for the model of new income management was passed on 1 July 2010. The new model of non-discriminatory income management has been rolled out across the Northern Territory and is aimed at those in most need of support, including those with a high risk of social isolation, poor money management skills, and those likely to participate in risky behaviours. The model is aimed at the long-term unemployed, disengaged youth, people assessed as vulnerable by a Centrelink social worker, and people referred by a child protection worker. People can also volunteer if they are not subject to a compulsory measure.

Income management is designed to ensure that money is available for life essentials, and to provide a tool to stabilise people’s circumstances, easing immediate financial stress. Income management also limits expenditure of income support payments on excluded items. Generally, 50% of a person’s income support payment is income managed, but this rises to 70% under the Child Protection measure.

As at 1 July 2011, there were 17,418 people on income management in the Northern Territory. One-quarter of those people have chosen to participate in Voluntary Income Management.


Western Australia

Voluntary Income Management and Child Protection Income Management are available in Perth metropolitan areas and in the Kimberley. Voluntary Income Management assists people to meet their priority needs and to learn how to manage their finances for themselves and their family in the long term. Under Child Protection Income Management, the Department for Child Protection case workers can refer families to Centrelink where a child is at risk of neglect.

At 1 July 2011, 1,013 people participated in income management in Western Australia. Of these, 799 volunteered for income management and 214 were on the child protection measure.


BasicsCard

The BasicsCard is a PIN-protected card that operates through the existing EFTPOS infrastructure and can be used at approved BasicsCard merchants across Australia. It provides a secure way for recipients to receive their income-managed funds. At 30 June 2011, 97% of people (18,103) on income management had an active BasicsCard. Over $156 million was spent through the BasicsCard in 2010–11, and over $330 million since the BasicsCard was introduced in 2007.


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 Program 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 focused on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities participating in the Council of Australian Governments (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, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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 2007, there were 56,100 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 national leadership in delivering recovery assistance in response to domestic and international disasters and critical incidents. Constitutional responsibility for the safety of its citizens lies primarily with state and territory governments but the Australian Government and its state and territory counterparts recognise that there are circumstances, such as in the event of natural disasters, where governments and communities can not 'do it alone'. They need financial and other help to respond to the emergency, provide immediate assistance to their citizens and recover from the toll that natural disasters take.

The Australian Government provides recovery assistance to disaster affected communities through the:
  • Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA)
  • Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP)
  • ex gratia payments and
  • Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy (DIRS).

It also provides support by:
  • contributing to public appeals and disaster memorials and
  • providing assistance, when requested, under agreed national plans (e.g. Commonwealth Disaster Response Plan).

Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements

In recognition of the significant cost of natural disasters, the Australian Government provides financial assistance directly to state and territory governments through the NDRRA. The NDRRA is designed to alleviate the financial burden on the state and territory governments and to facilitate the early provision of assistance to disaster affected communities.

The NDRRA reflects that state and territory governments are best placed to determine the type and level of assistance communities require following disasters. Assistance measures outlined in the NDRRA are intentionally non-prescriptive, preserving the Constitutional responsibilities of states and territories for protecting life and property and providing flexibility in the establishment of relief measures and criteria appropriate for the local conditions.

Sharing the cost of disaster recovery between the Commonwealth and states and territories occurs when recovery from a disaster is $240,000 or more on NDRRA assistance measures. These measures of assistance may include:
  • personal hardship and distress assistance to individuals and
  • community recovery funds.

Additionally, when the state expenditure exceeds 0.225% of state revenue, the Commonwealth will contribute towards:
  • restoration or replacement of essential public assets owned by state or local governments, such as schools and hospitals, and
  • loans, subsidies, and grants to primary producers, small businesses, voluntary non-profit bodies, and individuals in need.

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment

The AGDRP provides a flexible natural and non-natural disaster recovery assistance payment, which can be used for either international disasters (e.g. the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the 2009 Samoa Tsunami and Sumatra earthquake) or domestic disasters (e.g. the 2009 Victorian Bushfires and the December 2010–February 2011 severe weather and flooding across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria).

Adult Australian residents who are affected by an eligible natural or non-natural disaster, whether within Australia or internationally, can claim the payment and receive financial assistance for themselves and their children to aid with their recovery. It is a one-off payment, intended as a helping hand that can be accessed immediately. The AGDRP provides $1,000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child. It is not means tested and is tax exempt.

Ex gratia payments

An ex gratia payment allows the Australian Government to deliver targeted financial recovery assistance; it is particularly useful in allowing government to respond promptly to emergencies with offers of financial aid and other assistance to those affected. In response to the 2010–11 summer of natural disasters, the Australian Government offered an ex gratia payment equivalent to the AGDRP for New Zealanders with ‘non-protected’ Special Category Visas (subclass 444) who had been adversely affected by a disaster in local government areas where the AGDRP had been made available.

Disaster Income Recovery Subsidy

DIRS provides temporary financial assistance to employees, small business persons and farmers who can demonstrate that they have experienced a loss of income as a direct result of a major disaster. It provides fortnightly payments equivalent to the maximum relevant rate of Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance for a period of up to 13 weeks, and when activated, is available to Australian residents and eligible foreign nationals.

 

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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.


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Commonwealth of Australia 2014

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