Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Australia’s welfare 2009 report

Australia’s population is ageing, family homelessness is growing and around 2.3 million Australians will have a high level of disability by 2030, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Australia’s welfare 2009 is a comprehensive report on the provision of welfare services to Australian people. The report finds that the median age of Australians was 36.9 years in 2008, an increase of 5.3 years since 1988.

Rates of poor health and disability increase with age and our ageing population will continue to be a strong driver of demand for health, aged care and disability support services.

In September, the Australian Government introduced the most significant reforms to the pension since it was introduced 100 years ago.

A single pensioner on the maximum rate of the pension has received an increase of $70.83 per fortnight, bringing total pension payments to $671.90 per fortnight.

It is estimated that by 2010 around 1.5 million Australians will have a high level of disability and this is projected to rise to almost 2.3 million by 2030.

The Government has introduced significant reforms to help meet increasing demand for disability services.

We are investing more than $5 billion over five years in specialist disability services, delivered through the states and territories, in the new National Disability Agreement.

The first progress report under the new Agreement shows:

  • that work has commenced on the provision of around 150 additional supported accommodation places for people with disability, nearly half the total number of places expected to be achieved by June 2012;
  • more than 6,200 respite places have been made available, well above the target of 3,400 places;
  • around 2,300 individual service packages and 1,260 intensive in-home places were achieved, exceeding targets of 1,600 and 780 places; and
  • more than 770 young people with disability have been assisted with suitable accommodation, either through being moved out of or diverted from entering residential aged care, or by receiving additional support services in residential aged care to make their care more appropriate.

Family homelessness is growing, with over a quarter of homeless people in Australia in 2006 members of a family with children. This is up from 17 per cent in 2001.

Across all Australian Government housing programs, we will increase the stock of social and affordable housing by more than 80,000 units over the next four years. A significant proportion of these homes will be tenanted to homeless Australians or those at risk of homelessness.