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INCOME AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT
The largest component of welfare is the income support provided by the Australian Government. Over 4.2 million people, or more than one in five individuals, are direct beneficiaries of income support payments at any one time.
Australia’s income support system has undergone significant reform in recent years, including responding to the 2008-09 global economic recession and significant reforms to reduce welfare dependency and promote workforce participation. Broadly, the reforms aim to deliver payments to those who are most disadvantaged while encouraging those who can work to do so.
Pension reforms introduced from September 2009 increased adequacy and flexibility of payments while keeping pensions sustainable.
Expenditure on the main income support payments and benefits are listed in table 9.9.
Australia’s approach for retirement incomes combines an affordable basis for generating retirement incomes with targeted support for those who most need assistance. The retirement incomes framework comprises three pillars:
The Age Pension is the main form of income support for seniors and a significant proportion of seniors access the payment. The Age Pension is means tested on income and assets, and currently men qualify for Age Pension at 65 years. Women’s qualifying age is currently 64 and will reach 65 by 2014. Further information about changes to the qualifying age for the Age Pension are outlined as part of the pension reform information below.
Wife Pension and Widow B Pension closed to new claimants in the 1990s, as these dependency-based payments are at odds with active participation by women of workforce age.
Supplementary assistance is provided to eligible recipients through Remote Area Allowance, Telephone Allowance, Utilities Allowance, Pharmaceutical Allowance, and Concession cards.
From 20 September 2009, comprehensive pension reforms were introduced to improve the adequacy of the pension and its sustainability into the future. Pension rates were increased and the maximum single base rate of pension was raised to two thirds of the partnered rate. Income test rules have been changed to better target those with the lowest incomes, with transitional arrangements for those who received a pension prior to 20 September 2009. A new income test concession (Work Bonus) was introduced for employment income, while the Pension Bonus Scheme was closed to new entrants. From 2017, the Age Pension age will gradually increase from 65 to 67 by 2023.
The reforms also introduced new indexation arrangements to better reflect the cost of living increases experienced by pensioners. The Age Pension is now indexed by the greater of the movement in the Consumer Price Index or the new Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (see Chapter 29 Prices of this edition of Year Book Australia for further information). Also, the maximum single rate of pension benchmark to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings increased, from 25 per cent to an effective 27.7 per cent, in March 2010 and to 41.76 per cent for couples combined.
The number of age pensioners and the expenditure on the Age Pensions is shown in table 9.11.
Aged care policies aim to help people remain healthy and be able to participate in their community. One in four people aged 70 years and over makes some use of aged care. While most remain in their own home and use community care, one in ten uses a residential care facility. In 2007, the Australian Government announced a $1.6 billion package of aged care reforms.
Assessment for aged care
Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs) ensure that access to aged care services is based on care needs. Individuals must be assessed as eligible and approved by an ACAT before their care can be subsidised by the Australian Government. In 2008-09 the Australian Government provided $72.3m to state and territory governments for the operation of 115 ACATs.
Places and funding
Aged care places are allocated in proportion to the number of people aged 70 years and older. Allocation takes account of people with special needs, including people from Indigenous communities. Table 9.12 shows the number of operational aged care places at 30 June in each of the years from 2006 to 2009. There were 223,107 operational aged care places at 30 June 2008, equating to a ratio of 111.4 places per 1,000 people aged 70 years or older. There were 257,978 places allocated at 30 June 2009. The Australian Government’s expenditure on aged care in 2008-09 was $9.1b (this includes expenditure by the Department of Veteran's Affairs (DVA) on residential aged care).
The Transition Care Program is a jointly funded program that assists older people when they are discharged from hospital. Services include therapy, social work, case management, nursing support and/or personal care. The program helps older people, who would otherwise be eligible for residential care, complete their restorative process and optimise their functional capacity, while assisting them and their family or carer to make long-term care arrangements. Transition care can be provided in either a home-like residential setting or in the community.
Care in the community
Most older people want to remain in their own homes as long as possible - close to family and friends, and the shops, churches and activities, with which they are familiar. Community care maximises their independence and assists them and their families and carers where necessary through practical support. Assistance with activities of daily life may include, for example, shopping, bathing, dressing, cooking, cleaning, gardening and home maintenance.
Three main programs provide care to people in their own homes:
Other aged care programs use flexible, or more targeted, approaches. These include multipurpose services in rural and remote areas, services provided through the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Strategy, and targeted initiatives to meet particular needs, such as dementia, incontinence, or loss of hearing or vision.
Table 9.13 shows Australian Government expenditure on selected aged care programs.
The Department of Health and Ageing subsidises and regulates residential care for frail older people. Most residential care is provided by the non-government sector, including not-for-profit and private sector providers. Targeted capital assistance is available to aged-care homes catering largely for residents with special needs or on low incomes, or located in rural and remote areas of Australia. A more detailed description is found in Chapter 10 Housing of this edition of Year Book Australia.
Veterans, members of the Australian Defence Force and their families
The Australian Government supports those who serve or have served in defence of Australia by providing compensation and income support entitlements, delivering health care and rehabilitation services, and fulfilling Australia’s commitment to remember and honour them.
Compensation 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:
Table 9.14 shows the number of pensioners by type and total expenditure on disability and war widow(er)s' pensions.
The Veterans' Children Education Scheme provides financial help, guidance and counselling to certain students up to 25 years of age. At June 2008, there were 3,876 beneficiaries. Total expenditure in 2007-08 was $16.8m and in June 2009 the corresponding figures were 3,750 and $15.3m respectively.
The DVA is responsible for providing benefits through the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) (Cwlth) for injuries and diseases related to service prior to 1 July 2004 and through the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) (Cwlth). Table 9.15 summarises activities under these Acts for 2008--09.
Income support for veterans
There are several income support pensions payable to veterans and their dependants:
Depending on the individual's circumstances, recipients of income support payments may be eligible for supplementary benefits including the Defence Force Income Support Allowance, Rent Assistance, Remote Area Allowance and Pension Supplement. The Defence Force Income Support Allowance may only be payable if a person receives both an income and support payment under Social Security Pension or Benefit and an Adjusted Disability Pension under the Veterans' Entitlement Act. Self-funded retirees may be eligible for Seniors Supplement to assist with payment of energy, rates, water and sewerage expenses.
The Defence Service Homes Scheme provides financial benefits, including housing loan interest subsidies, comprehensive home owners insurance cover at competitive rates, and home contents insurance. At 30 June 2008 and 2009, 82,993 and 79,514 homes respectively, were insured. The corresponding number of loan accounts were 28,900 and 25,748 while the corresponding amounts of subsidy paid were $6.3m and $5.8m.
Table 9.16 shows the total number of recipients and annual expenditure on service pensions.
Health care treatment is provided to all veterans of Australia's defence force who are aged 70 years and over and who have qualifying service, war Widows/Widowers and eligible dependants of a deceased veteran. Service pensioners who satisfy the treatment benefits means test are also eligible. People whose disabilities have been accepted by the DVA as service-related, and for pulmonary tuberculosis, post-traumatic stress disorder and malignant neoplasia whether they are service-related or not. Vietnam veterans with anxiety and depression and Gulf War veterans with undiagnosable conditions are also eligible for health care treatment whether the conditions are service-related or not.
The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) provides intake assessment, counselling, case management services and group programs to veterans of all conflicts and their families, as well as working with the ex-service community to promote awareness and understanding of mental health problems in the veteran community. Table 9.17 shows use of the VVCS.
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.
Working age payments provide financial assistance to people who are unemployed, and looking for work or participating in employment preparation programs, or have parenting responsibilities. Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment (partnered and single), and Youth Allowance (see later section on Youth services and support) are the main payments available to people of working age.
From July 2006, working age payment policies changed to focus more on increasing workforce participation and reducing welfare dependency. In return for financial support, working-age people with a capacity to work are expected to participate in the paid workforce, or demonstrate that they are looking for work or undertaking activities to improve their employment prospects, such as further study, training or approved voluntary work. Participation requirements are modified for those with reduced work capacity due to disability or caring responsibilities.
Newstart Allowance is payable for eligible job seekers aged 21 years or over and under age pension age. Newstart allowees have access to employment services that provide a range of integrated services and includes special help for retrenched workers and youth. Newstart allowees have participation requirements, however these are designed to accommodate factors such as caring responsibilities, disability, age and location.
Parenting Payment is the main income support payment for people with sole or primary responsibility for the care of a young child. Single parents who claim income support after 1 July 2006 may be eligible for Parenting Payment (Single) until their youngest child turns eight. Partnered parents may be eligible for Parenting Payment (Partnered) until their youngest child turns six. These parents are required to look for part-time work of at least 15 hours a week or undertake another approved activity when their youngest child turns six.
People receiving Parenting Payment since before 1 July 2006 can remain on this payment until their youngest child turns 16, subject to them continuing to meet all eligibility requirements. These parents have part-time work eligibility requirements from 1 July 2007 or when their youngest child turns seven, whichever is the later.
Job seekers and parents (including the most disadvantaged such as the long term unemployed) have access to Job Services Australia, the Australian Government’s employment services. Job Services Australia is an integrated service that provides job seekers with a personalised service with a strong focus on skills development and training, work experience and tailored interventions to suit individual needs and circumstances. There are strong links between the employment services providers and local employers. Parents also have access to child-care assistance to enable workforce participation.
Disability Employment Services are also available to help job seekers with disability, injury or health conditions find work. All eligible job seekers with disability have access to individually tailored and comprehensive services including capacity building, training, work experience and other interventions to help participants obtain and maintain suitable employment.
Recipients of Widow Allowance and Partner Allowance (closed to new claimants from September 2003) do not have participation requirements; however employment services are available to them should they wish to get help to find work.
Other working age payments include:
Other supplementary payments include:
Table 9.18 shows the number of Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment and other working-age allowances recipients, together with expenditure on these allowances.
People with disability
Specialist disability services and assistance are available to help people with disability, including mental illness and autism, and their families and carers, to participate actively in community and economic life, access a responsive and sustainable safety net and support services, and develop their capabilities.
Disability support payments
Disability Support Pension (DSP) is an income support payment for people with physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment assessed as unable to work at least 15 hours a week independently of support. DSP recipients are not required to participate in the workforce, but are encouraged to engage with employment services and look for work that matches their assessed capacity.
DSP is income and assets tested. However, recipients who are permanently blind are exempt from the income and assets tests. DSP for people aged 21 years and over is paid at the same rate as Age Pension. Youth rates apply to those aged under 21 years without children. These are largely tied to Youth Allowance rates, but include a Youth Disability Supplement in recognition of the additional costs faced by people with disabilities. DSP youth rates are not subject to parental income or assets tests.
In addition, Mobility Allowance helps those involved in paid work, employment services, vocational training or voluntary work or a combination of these, who are unable to use public transport without substantial assistance.
Supplementary assistance is provided to eligible recipients through Remote Area Allowance, Telephone Allowance, Utilities Allowance, Pharmaceutical Allowance, and concession cards.
Table 9.19 shows the number of recipients of support for people with a disability, and expenditure by payment type.
National Disability Agreement (NDA)
The National Disability Agreement (NDA), which replaces the Commonwealth State Territory Disability Agreement (CSTDA) came into effect from 1 January 2009.
Under the new Agreement, the Commonwealth Government will provide more than $5 billion in funding over five years to the state and territory governments for specialist disability services. The Agreement means that in 2013 the Commonwealth Government's contribution will exceed $1.2 billion, compared to $620 million in 2007.
Under the Agreement, the Commonwealth Government is responsible for employment and income support and state and territory governments are responsible for specialist delivery services such as supported accommodation, targeted support and respite.
State and territory governments, in consultation with the Commonwealth, have agreed to develop a system comprising single access points for disability services, consistent assessment processes, quality assurance systems and more consistent access to aids and equipment as national priorities. Together these reforms will provide a responsive system of disability support that is easy to access and responds flexibly to people’s changing needs.
Through the Agreement, the Commonwealth Government will provide funding to state and territory governments for more services to help with the reform of the disability service system.
This funding includes $1.9 billion agreed by Disability Ministers in May 2008 which will provide more than 24,800 additional disability places including:
Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care
Residential aged care is often not the best accommodation and care option for younger people with disability. In June 2006 there were around 6,500 people with disability under the age of 65 years in residential aged care, of whom around 1,000 were aged under 50 years.
At the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in February 2006, the Australian, state and territory governments committed up to $244m in matched funding in the Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care program, for a five year period The aim of the program is to move young people with disability out of residential aged care into more appropriate accommodation, divert those at risk of admission to residential aged care and provide enhanced services to those who chose to remain in residential aged care. The programs initial priority target group is people under 50 years of age, however where possible, people aged less than 65 years are also included.
National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy
The Australian Government's Social Inclusion Agenda promotes participation and access to resources for all Australians. As part of the Social Inclusion Agenda, the Australian Government has developed a National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy. The objective of the Strategy is to increase the employment of people with disability, promote social inclusion and improve national economic productivity. Initiatives have been developed to ensure Australians with disability and mental illness have improved opportunities to search, find and maintain employment.
Disability Employment Services commenced on 1 March 2010, and is supported by two programs; Program A for eligible job seekers who require the assistance of a Disability Employment Service but are not expected to need long-term support in the workplace, and Program B for job seekers with a permanent disability and with an assessed need for more long-term, regular support in the workplace. Participants work with their provider to develop their own Employment Pathway Plan and access to an Employment Assistance Fund is available to assist with finding and maintaining employment such as workplace modifications and Auslan interpreting services.
In February 2006, Australian leaders committed to reform the mental health system. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Action Plan on Mental Health 2006-2011 emphasises collaboration between sectors to deliver a more connected care system. Initiatives valued at $4 billion are being implemented over five years. Reforms contribute to the wellbeing of people with mental illness, their families and carers, which strengthens communities.
The Action Plan aims to improve mental health and facilitate recovery through a greater focus on promotion, prevention and early intervention; improved access to mental health services, including in Indigenous and rural communities; more stable accommodation; and meaningful participation in recreational, social, employment and other activities. Improving the care system will involve a focus on better coordinated care and building workforce capacity.
There are interconnections between mental illness and homelessness, unemployment, physical disability, alcohol and other drugs use, family violence, abuse, torture and trauma. People with mental illness and their families need integrated responses from services. Community support programs complement clinical responses in supporting recovery from mental illness.
Other vulnerable groups within communities include the forgotten Australians, stolen generation and humanitarian entrants. Targeted support will be provided to these vulnerable groups through the Personal Helpers and Mentors service strategy.
Informal carers play an important role in providing daily care and support to people with disability, people with a medical condition, people with mental illness and the aged. In providing this assistance and support, carers make a significant social and economic contribution to Australian society. Whilst informal care can be a positive experience for both the carer and care receiver, it can also impact on the carer who may need additional support to ensure that they have the opportunity to enjoy optimum health, social, and economic well-being and to participate in family, social and community life, employment and education. Nearly 2.6 million Australians are carers and the demand for carers can be expected to increase as the population ages.
There are two main forms of financial support for carers. Carer Payment is an income support payment for people who, because of their caring responsibilities, are unable to support themselves through substantial paid employment. Carer Allowance is an income supplement available to people who provide daily care and attention in a private home to a person who has disability or severe medical condition, or who is frail aged. In 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 a Carer Bonus of $1,000 was paid to Carer Payment recipients and $600 for recipients of Carer Allowance for each eligible care receiver. The Secure and Sustainable Pension Reform package announced in the 2009-10 Budget introduced the $600 Carer Supplement. The Carer Supplement is paid to recipients of Carer Allowance for each person being cared for. Carer Supplement is also paid to:
The first payments of Carer Supplement were made in June 2009. Future payments of Carer Supplement will be paid on 1 July each year, starting from 1 July 2010.
Supplementary assistance is provided to eligible recipients through Remote Area Allowance, Telephone Allowance, Utilities Allowance, Pharmaceutical Allowance, and concession cards.
Table 9.20 shows the number of recipients and expenditure on support for carers.
Carer services and assistance
The Australian Government funds services for carers, including respite services, Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres, practical and financial support, and services delivered through the HACC Program. Other non-financial assistance to carers includes special measures for young carers, people with mental illness and carers of people with intellectual disability, assistance to parents with disabled children with severe disability and projects to address the impacts of long-term caring.
Youth Allowance supports young people aged 16-20 years actively seeking employment and full-time students aged 16-24 years. It is subject to a personal income and assets test. If the young person is not independent, then parental income, family assets, and family actual means tests also apply. The rate of payment depends on age and circumstances.
In April 2009, COAG agreed to a Compact with Young Australians to increase young people’s engagement with education and training pathways. Part of this compact comprises the National Youth Participation Requirements for young Australians. From 1 July 2009, young people are considered to be early school leavers until they have completed Year 12 or an equivalent qualification (Certificate Level II). Early school leavers are required to participate in full-time study or training, or in part-time study or training in combination with other approved activities, for a total of 25 hours per week. Young principal carer parents or those with a partial capacity to work have reduced participation requirements of 15 hours per week.
Austudy is a means tested income support payment provided to students or Australian Apprentices aged 25 years and over. To qualify for assistance, a person must be undertaking qualifying study (full-time or a concessional study load) in an approved course at an approved educational institution; and an Australian resident and currently residing in Australia.
ABSTUDY is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Study Assistance Scheme that provides a means tested living allowance and other supplementary benefits to eligible Indigenous Australian secondary and tertiary students. To qualify for assistance a person must be undertaking full-time study in an approved course at an approved educational institution and meet residency requirements.
Supplementary assistance may be provided to eligible recipients through Remote Area Allowance, Pharmaceutical Allowance, Telephone Allowance and concession cards.
Family Tax Benefit (FTB) may be available to help families with the cost of raising a young person who is not receiving Youth Allowance or a similar payment. It may be payable for a young person up to 21 years of age, or aged between 21 and 24 years who is studying full time.
Table 9.21 shows the number of recipients of and the expenditure on youth and student support.
Young job seekers can receive assistance in finding employment through Job Services Australia, which replaced the previous Job Network on 1 July 2009. All young people aged 15-20 years not in full-time education and who are registered with Centrelink as looking for work can access the full range of employment services, whether they receive income support or not. Across Australia there are Job Services Australia providers that assist youth with their skills development to obtain sustainable employment and there are Job Services Australia providers that are youth specialists .
Young job seekers with complex or multiple non-vocational barriers, such as mental illness, homelessness and social problems, can now access employment services immediately and access funds for interventions such as counselling, help with crisis accommodation or referrals to specialist support services.
Young job seekers with a disability also have access to Disability Employment Services. Providers of this service can work on early intervention partnerships with schools, so that eligible students with a disability can access the help they need to transition from school to employment.
Other programs are available to help disengaged and disadvantaged young people to improve their level of engagement with their families and community to overcome barriers to participation in education and employment. These programs include the National Green Jobs Corps, Mentor Marketplace, YouthLinx, Youth Development and Support Transition to Independent Living Allowance, Indigenous Youth Mobility, Career Advice Australia, Australian Apprenticeships and Australian Apprenticeship Access Program, and Strengthening and Supporting Families Coping with Illicit Drug Use.
Families form the basic unit of home life for most Australian people. The level of family assistance provided by the Australian Government has increased significantly over recent years. Payments to assist families include FTB; Child Care Benefit, Child Care Tax Rebate, Jobs, Education and Training Child Care fee assistance; and the Maternity Payment; with the highest rates of payment going to low-income families. The Australian Government also funds counselling services to help keep families together.
Family assistance policies assist with the costs of raising children, including newborns, in ways that recognise the needs and choices of single and dual income families.
FTB Part A helps families with the cost of raising dependent children. It is paid to eligible families with dependent children up to 21 years, and young people between 21 and 24 years who are studying full time. Payments are made for each dependent child who is not receiving Youth Allowance or a similar payment. FTB Part A is subject to a family income test and provides access to supplementary payments, including Rent Assistance, Large Family Supplement and Multiple Birth Allowance. There is also a supplement payable after the end of the financial year.
FTB Part B provides extra assistance for families with only one main income earner and for sole-parent families. Payment to a family is based on the age of the youngest child, and is assessed on the income of the family’s second income earner. It is paid per family, not per dependent child. Families must have at least one dependent child aged under 16 years, or aged 16--18 years who is studying full time. The child must not be receiving Youth Allowance or similar payment. FTB Part B has a higher rate of payment where the youngest child is under five years of age. There is also an end of year supplement.
FTB payments are paid through the Family Assistance Office or the tax system. As at the end of June 2009, approximately 1.8 million families with 3.4 million children received FTB Part A, and 1.4 million families received FTB Part B via fortnightly payments from the Family Assistance Office.
Maternity Payment (renamed Baby Bonus from 1 July 2007) is available to families following the birth (including still birth) or adoption of a baby up to the age of two years. Maternity Payment recognises the extra costs incurred at the time of a new birth or the adoption of a very young child and is not income tested.
Other payments to families include Maternity Immunisation Allowance and Double Orphan Pension.
Table 9.22 shows the number of recipients of, and the expenditure on, family assistance.
Services for families
The Family Support Program brings together key existing family, children and parenting services that share a common interest in supporting Australian families, parents and children.
In bringing these services together, the Family Support Program will provide a more coordinated and flexible approach to delivering support to families and children. The services offered through the Family Support Program will work with parents and children navigating life transitions, vulnerable and at risk families and children in highly disadvantaged communities, and families and children experiencing separation and divorce.
Child Support Scheme
The Child Support Agency (CSA) manages the assessment, collection and enforcement of child support liabilities. It aims to ensure that parents continue to financially support their children after separation, according to their capacity. The total child support liabilities in 2008-09 were $2.9 billion. Child support associated with parents who elect to transfer payments privately amounted to $1.7 billion in 2008-09. The child support transferred or credited against a liability by CSA was $1.1 billion in 2008-09.
Assistance with child care costs
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) develops polices that give more children access to early childhood development support, education and family care.
Access to child care is vital for many families to enable them to participate effectively in the workforce. Child-care services include long day care, family day care, in home care, outside school hours care, vacation care, and occasional care. Flexible services that can combine various models of care are available to meet the needs of families in rural and remote areas.
There are two main forms of payment for child-care support:
From the 2006-07 and 2007-08 financial years, eligible families were paid their CCTR through the Family Assistance Office as an annual payment, rather than through the tax system. This meant that families who previously could not access the full benefit of the CCTR due to low or no tax liability were able to claim the full 30% rebate.
In the 2008-09 Budget, the Australian Government announced the removal of the minimum rate of CCB, which was paid to all eligible families regardless of income, replacing it with an extended means-tested rate that tapers until the payment rate reaches zero. The income level at which the CCB cuts out depends on the number of children using approved child care. This measure came into effect on 1 July 2008.
Families with a CCB entitlement of zero due to their income level may still be eligible for the CCTR. The CCTR is not income-tested, so working families using approved child care can receive this assistance regardless of their income.
Previously, the CCTR covered 30 per cent of approved out-of-pocket child care costs, up to a maximum of $4,354 per child per year. From July 2008, the rate of the rebate increased significantly so that it now covers 50 per cent of out-of-pocket costs up to a maximum of $7,500 (indexed) per child per year. From July 2008, families have also been able to receive the CCTR as a quarterly payment rather than as an annual payment to ensure that it is provided closer to the time they incur their child care expenses. The first quarterly payments were made through the Family Assistance Office in October 2008.
Jobs, Education and Training (JET) Child Care fee assistance provides extra child care assistance to parents on income support who wish to undertake study, work or job search activities to enter or re-enter the workforce.
Table 9.23 shows the number of recipients of and expenditure on child-care support.
Child Care Services Support Program (CCSSP)
The CCSSP complements assistance provided to families through CCB. Funding to CCSSP was $298m in 2007-08. The program supports the provision of sustainable, quality child care and provides information to assist families to make informed decisions about child care. CCSSP helps to improve access for children and families with special and or additional needs. CCSSP funding targets assistance to areas where a service may not otherwise be viable. This ensures similar services in similar circumstances receive the same funding.
Child Care Management System (CCMS)
Over $73m was invested to develop the CCMS to provide the best information on child care supply and usage. CCMS was implemented progressively across child-care services from January 2008 through to 30 June 2009. CCMS brings all approved child-care providers online to standardise and simplify the administration of CCB.
Outside School Hours Care for Teenagers with Disability
This activity assists teenagers with disability, aged 12 to 18 years, and their families by providing flexible outside school hours care. Outside schools hours care includes before, after and holiday care. In the 2009 Budget, the Australian Government announced a total of $5.1 million in additional funding over four years to the 2012-13 financial year, to extend Outside School Hours Care for Teenagers with Disability, bringing total funding to $27.629m over the four years.
Helping Children with Autism Package
The Australian Government is committed to providing improved support for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), their families and carers. To help address the need for support and services for children with ASDs, the Australian Government is delivering the $190 million Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) package. This is the first national initiative to help families deal with this challenging disorder and is a major breakthrough in support for children and their families and carers.
The package includes early intervention funding, autism advisors to provide advice, information and support following diagnosis, workshops, an ASD website and 150 PlayConnect Playgroups specifically for families and children with ASDs.
To date, Autism Advisors have supported 5,628 children and 4,104 children have accessed early intervention funding.
The strength of community functioning has a large impact on individual, family and community wellbeing. Voluntary work and the way people use their time can impact on strength of community functioning. All levels of government seek to support and strengthen communities through provision of services, either directly or by subsidising the activities of third parties.
The Australian Government provided $63m in 2008--09 for the Community Investment Program, which builds social inclusion for vulnerable people by supporting organisations to recognise, evaluate and address key problems in communities. Key strategies under the program included:
Financial inclusion and capability
In 2008-09, $65.3 million in funding through the Financial Management Program (FMP) supported community organisations to improve the financial self-reliance and wellbeing of individuals and families. Assistance includes financial counselling, money management information and education, support for people dealing with a financial crisis and finding ways to minimise problem gambling.
In 2008-09, 746,810 people accessed support services funded under the FMP.
The aim of the FMP is to deliver financial support services where the individual is at the centre and Australian Government and non-government services work in partnership to help people achieve financial and social wellbeing. Service strategies include:
Emergency Relief services provide support to address immediate needs in time of crisis. Assistance often includes food parcels and clothing, transport, chemist vouchers, help with accommodation, payment of bills, budgeting assistance and sometimes cash. Importantly, Emergency Relief agencies provide appropriate referrals to other services that help to address underlying causes of financial crisis.
Commonwealth Financial Counselling
Financial counsellors help people in financial difficulty address their financial problems and make informed choices through provision of information; advocacy and/or negotiation; referral; community education and networking/liaison.
Money Management services currently operate in remote communities, predominantly supporting Indigenous people including Income Management participants. They provide clients with education and information to help them manage their money. They do not provide financial advice or deal with complex financial/legal matters and will facilitate access to financial counsellors for help with complex issues.
Information on saving for retirement and retirement investments
The National Information Centre on Retirement Investments (NICRI), an independent body funded by the Australian Government, provides the public with free information on planning and saving for retirement, investment options and effective use of financial resources in retirement.
Research into problem gambling
The Australian Government works in partnership with State and Territory Governments through the Ministerial Council on Gambling (MCG) to develop a national approach to problem gambling. The Commonwealth provides funding for the MCG’s national research program, Gambling Research Australia. The Commonwealth also commissions research into issues that have national impact.
Closing the Gap - Northern Territory - income management
In 2008-09, FaHSCIA continued to work on the implementation of income management as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER). Income management directs 50 per cent of certain income support and family payments to agreed priority expenses such as food, utilities and clothing. Income management is intended to ensure that payments meant to benefit children are used for the benefit of children and are not directed towards harmful behaviours. At 26 June 2009, over 15,500 individuals were on income management as part of the NTER. The Basics Card was introduced in September 2008 to allow customers of income management greater flexibility in where they spend their income managed funds.
Welfare Payments Reform - Child Protection Scheme of Income Management, Voluntary Income Management and School Attendance and Enrolment support package
The Child Protection Scheme of Income Management (CPSIM) and Voluntary Income Management (VIM) are available in Kimberley WA and in Perth metropolitan area. CPSIM and VIM aim to encourage socially responsible behaviour and to enhance the well-being of children. Under CPSIM, Western Australia’s Department of Child Protection can refer a person to Centrelink for income management where the poor use of existing financial resources wholly or partially contributes to child protection issues.
VIM allows people to volunteer for income management if they feel it would assist them to better meet their financial responsibilities, or contribute to the wellbeing of their children or children in their community. At 19 June 2009, there were almost 200 CPSIM and VIM customers.
A vast majority (over 80 per cent) of income managed funds have been allocated towards food, housing costs and clothing by income management customers.
Communities in harmony
A number of Australian Government programs have been established to encourage greater social integration of communities. The National Action Plan aims to build social cohesion, harmony and security. The Living in Harmony program promotes community harmony and addresses issues of racial, religious and cultural intolerance within Australia. FaHCSIA's 'Bringing Communities Together' works with different groups within the community.
Support for newly arrived migrants includes Newly Arrived Youth Support Services, Family Relationship Services for Humanitarian Entrants, Crisis Payment and child care inclusion programs.
The Family Community Network Initiative aims to enhance the capacity of communities and services to work together to address needs. It is administered by FaHCSIA and is currently primarily focussed on supporting Indigenous communities participating in the COAG Indigenous Community Coordination Pilots around Australia.
Rural and remote support and services
Many rural and regional communities face economic challenges, declining population, lack of development opportunities, or high levels of unemployment and social disadvantage. Initiatives have been introduced to support employment and economic security for rural families, and economic sustainability for rural communities. Financial assistance packages are available for farmers, businesses, Indigenous and rural communities. In addition, Remote Area Allowance provides extra help for people in remote areas and is paid fortnightly along with the relevant pension or payment. At June 2008, there were 58,276 and, at June 2009, 59,259 recipients.
Severe drought has a profound impact on rural and regional communities, the environment and the broader Australian economy. Drought-affected farmers, rural communities and agriculture-dependent small businesses are being supported through income support, interest rate subsidies and free personal and financial counselling.
The Australian Government provides a coordinated approach to delivering recovery assistance in response to onshore and offshore disasters and critical incidents. While the primary role for protecting the community and property in response to domestic disasters rests with state and territory governments, the Australian Government supports the states and territories through programs and measures, including the:
The Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) are an Australian Government program that assists states and territories with the financial costs associated with natural disaster relief and recovery. The NDRRA enables the early provision of assistance to individuals and communities and supports the recovery of a community’s economic base following a natural disaster. A state or territory may claim NDRRA funding if:
Under the NDRRA, three states submitted claims during the 2008-09 financial year of which the Australian Government paid $297 million. The claims submitted were for flooding, storm and cyclone events in the Northern Territory; tropical cyclones, flooding, storm and bushfire events in Queensland; and bushfire, flood and storm events in Victoria including the February 2009 Victorian bushfire event.
A whole-of-Australian Government assistance package was developed in response to the devastating Victorian bushfires in February 2009. The package addressed the social, economic, physical and environmental challenges that faced bushfire-affected individuals, families, communities, businesses, and local governments alike. The range of services included financial assistance through the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment (AGDRP) and an Income Recovery Subsidy, case management and mental health services, small business and primary producer assistance, rebuilding the tourism sector in affected areas and supporting communities through the community recovery fund.
In 2008-09, the AGDRP supported 114,000 Australians adversely affected by Mumbai Terrorist attacks in November 2008, the South-east Queensland storms in November 2008, flooding in North Queensland in January and February 2009, the January and February 2009 Victorian bushfires and the May 2009 Northern New South Wales and South-east Queensland floods.