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Media Release by The Hon Julie Bishop MP

Further Support for Women in the Federal Budget

Women will benefit from the Howard Government’s eleven years of strong economic management, with 2007-08 Federal Budget measures continuing to reflect its commitment to improving the lives of women throughout the Australian community.

The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, today welcomed initiatives in the 2007-08 Federal Budget, saying they acknowledged the important role women play in our economy and society.

This Budget includes personal income tax relief worth $31.5 billion over four years to reward effort, improve work incentives (particularly for lower income earners) and enhance Australia’s international competitiveness.

The Government will boost superannuation savings by putting an extra $1.1 billion into the superannuation accounts of low income earners by doubling the co-contribution paid for eligible contributions made in 2005-06.

A further $2.1 billion investment in child care is just one of the Budget measures which will support women and their families.

This investment includes:

  • increasing the rate of Child Care Benefit by 10 per cent on top of the normal Consumer Price Index increase from 1 July 2007, through funding of $728.5 million over five years;
  • bringing forward the Child Care Tax Rebate (CCTR) by paying it through the Family Assistance Office at the end of each financial year, through funding of $1.4 billion over five years (including $451.0 million in 2006-07);
  • increasing funding for the Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance to help parents in income support to meet the cost of child care, while undertaking activities such as training, study and job searching to help them become less dependent on welfare, through additional funding of $15.4 million over four years;
  • providing additional support and services for families using child care in regional and remote communities, through additional funding of $43.8 million over four years;
  • improving access to child care and links to other childhood services by creating child care service hubs in regional and remote communities with high Indigenous populations, through funding of $23.5 million over four years.
  • expanding support for playgroups for Indigenous families, through funding of an additional $13.8 million over four years;
  • providing home visits by health professionals and support teams for Indigenous children aged 0-8 living in outer regional and remote areas, through funding of $37.4 million over four years;
  • more support for children with ongoing high support needs, through additional funds for the Inclusion Support Subsidy (ISS) of $71.3 million over five years;
  • simplifying the quality assurance process across the child care sector, through additional funding of $10.7 million over five years;
  • building an evidence-base for best quality programs decisions for early childhood experiences, through additional funds of $7.9 million over three years to the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth and the Australian Early Development Index.

Other measures to support women and their families include:

  • assisting families at risk of Family Tax Benefit (FTB) overpayment to estimate their income and understand the FTB system, through funding of $3.4 million in 2007-08 and $0.1 million in 2008-09;
  • extension of the Multiple Birth Allowance for children in multiple birth sets of three or more, through funding of $10 million over four years;
  • increasing the means test exemption threshold from $5,000 to $10,000 per person for funeral bonds purchased by income support recipients, through funding of $4.3 million over four years;
  • recognising the invaluable work of carers of people with disabilities and the frail aged by the provision of a one-off lump sum payment, through funding of $394.3 million;
  • providing health care cards to ex-Carer Allowance (child) care receivers up until the age of 25 while they remain full time students, through funding of $19.3 million over four years;
  • continuing respite support for carers of young people with a disability, through funding of $23.8 million over four years, and provision of an additional 1,000 respite places with additional funding of $6 million over four years;
  • establishing an interim ex-gratia scheme to provide assistance to families, on a case by case basis, to adjust to a catastrophic event or diagnosis resulting in a major disability to a child aged 0 to 6 years, through funding of $6.5 million over two years; and
  • assisting separated families in regional areas and increasing the focus on children’s needs through funding of $55.6 million over four years, including services for children, 28 new post separation education services, and additional services through the family courts.

Women’s health will be improved through Budget measures including:

  • continuing the work of the Rural Women’s GP Service by supporting the expansion of the service to an additional 69 clinics per year, through funding of $14.0 million over four years;
  • raising awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding amongst parents and health professionals and the provision of advice and support to parents who may wish to breastfeed, through funding of $8.7 million over four years;
  • implementing the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination programme, through additional funding of $103.5 million over five years (from 2006-07), taking total funding for this programme to $579.3 million. This measure will also provide for a catch-up vaccination programme for 18-26 year old women to be delivered by GPs over two years commencing in July 2007; and
  • establishment and initial operation of a Centre for Gynaecological Cancers, through funding of $1.0 million in 2006-07, which will operate under the auspices of Cancer Australia and will provide education and increase awareness of gynaecological cancers among medical and allied health professionals.
  • The Government will comprehensively investment in Australia’s education sector by:
  • providing a perpetual source of funding for universities for capital works and research facilities through a new $5 billion Higher Education Endowment Fund (HEEF);
  • providing an additional $4 billion of funding to:
    • – assist universities to specialise and better respond to student demand;
    • – provide additional support for apprentices; and
    • – focus on improving the quality of teaching in our schools and student outcomes, particularly in literacy and numeracy.

Details of this comprehensive education package can be found at Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (www.dest.gov.au)

The Government will improve the representation of women on decision-making bodies in regional Australia through funding of $4.5 million over four years. Initiatives will include an information strategy targeted at regional boards to promote the value of diversity in decision making and a national conference and awards scheme to encourage greater participation by women.

The Anti-People Trafficking Strategy, through funding of $26.3 million over four years, will prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute people trafficking and provide appropriate support to victims of people trafficking which will improve women’s safety. Women’s safety will also be improved through the provision of additional places in the Community Development Employment Projects programme that provide activities to prevent family violence and substance misuse problems in Indigenous communities through funding $50.7 million over four years to.

Budget measures to support women as they age include:

  • improving the operation of the Pension Bonus Scheme (PBS), making it easier for people who work beyond Age Pension age to receive a bonus, through funding of $46.4 million over four years; and
  • providing a one-off non taxable bonus payment of $500 to individuals eligible for Utilities Allowance or Seniors Concession Allowance as at 8 May 2007, through funding of $1.3 billion.

Information on 2007-08 Budget highlights for women is available from the Office for Women’s website.

Comprehensive information about the Budget can be found by accessing the official Australian Government Budget website (www.budget.gov.au)