Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Budget Delivers Record Spend on Australian Families

The Howard Government has made an additional $4.5 billion commitment over five years, through the 2007-08 Federal Budget, to further support families, children, people with disability, volunteers, Indigenous people and older Australians.

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough today said the new initiatives bring total Howard government spending to $50.6 billion a year across this portfolio.

A summary of the main 2007-08 Federal Budget initiatives within the FaCSIA portfolio follows:

Families to reap benefit of $2.1 billion child care investment

  • The Government will increase the rate of child care benefit by over 13 per cent, including indexation, from 1 July 2007. The cost of this is $728.5 million over five years for the measure plus an additional $163.7 million for the cost of indexation.
  • The payment of the Child Care Tax Rebate will be brought forward so it can now be paid soon after the end of the financial year in which costs are incurred at a cost of $1.4 billion over four years. Families will receive two rebates this year; their 2005-06 rebate once they have submitted their tax return plus their first new payment for 2006-07 under the new payment process through the Family Assistance Office in September.
  • An additional $71.3 million over five years for the Inclusion Support Subsidy program, which will allow 3,000 extra children with high support needs, particularly those with a disability, to be included in high quality child care each year.
  • $43.8 million over four years to provide further financial support to child care services operating in areas of need, particularly rural and remote communities, to provide quality child care where services may otherwise not be financially viable.

$1.4 billion dividend for seniors

Older Australians are also further supported as part of the 2007-08 Federal Budget with initiatives that allow them to share in the economic dividend the Howard Government’s sound management has created.

  • A one-off bonus payment of $500 to each older Australian who receives Utilities Allowance or Seniors Concessions Allowance. This payment will be made before the end of June 2007, at a cost of $1.3 billion, to more than two million senior Australians.
  • The $46.4 million package to extend access to the Pension Bonus Scheme (PBS), increasing the already significant commitment made by the Howard Government. Members of the PBS will be able to benefit from these changes from 1 January 2008.

$406.8 million for valuable carers

The Howard Government is continuing to support those people who care for people with disability.

  • $394.3 million for a one-off bonus to recognise the important work of carers in our community. One-off payments of $1,000 will be paid to Carer Payment recipients and $600 for recipients of Carer Allowance for each eligible care receiver. In addition to the $600 Carer Allowance bonus, recipients of Carer Allowance who also receive Wife Pension or the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Partner Service Pension will receive a payment of $1,000.
  • An extra $6 million over four years to increase the level of immediate and short-term respite available to a further 1000 carers of young people with a severe or profound disability. This will bring the total funding for the Respite Support for Carers of Young People with a Severe and Profound Disability Program to $29.8 million over the next four years.

$81.1 million to support our volunteers

The Australian Government will significantly increase funding to volunteer organisations, providing an additional $66 million over this and the next four years for the Volunteer Small Equipment Grants (VSEG) program.

  • This $66 million boost takes to $81.1 million total funding available under VSEG over the next four years.
  • This includes VSEG – Sport, a new initiative, which will provide a dedicated $5 million each year to volunteer organisations which contribute to community sporting activities to encourage participation and better health – particularly involving young people.

$128.2 million for disability services

The Government is also continuing to support people with disabilities, with a total spend of $12.8 billion, and the Budget contains further new measures worth $128.2 million over this and the next four years, by providing:

  • $12.2 million over four years to increase the level of services delivered through the National Disability Advocacy Program. This will fund a number of improvements, including the introduction of a new independent quality assurance system.
  • In addition, up to 18,000 people with disability will continue to be supported in their employment with $116 million over the next four years, through a continuation of case-based funding for 220 disability business services across Australia.

Massive $3.5 billion Budget for Indigenous Australians

The Howard Government’s unprecedented support for Indigenous-focused programs will be driven by a record $3.5 billion total spend in 2007-08. The 2007 08 Federal Budget contains 26 Indigenous-specific initiatives, involving $748.3 million over five years, including $61.8 million in 2006-07, focusing on education, early childhood, and economic independence.

  • The Howard Government will implement a significant seven year strategy of major reforms to help fix the Indigenous housing problem.
  • From 2008 09, the Community Housing and Infrastructure Programme (CHIP) previously managed by ATSIC will be abolished and replaced by a new expanded Australian Remote Indigenous Accommodation (ARIA) Programme.
  • This includes a substantial downpayment of $293.6 million in additional indigenous housing funding in this year’s Budget, over and above the current level of indigenous housing funding of around $380 million per year.

“The 2007-08 Federal Budget further demonstrates the Howard Government’s ongoing commitment to families, Indigenous Australians, people with a disability and our seniors,” Mr Brough said.