Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Snapshot of Australia’s Welfare

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today officially released the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Australia’s Welfare 2005.

Senator Patterson said this report featured a more detailed chapter on children, youth and families and one of the most striking figures was that in couple families with children aged 14 and under, the proportion with neither parent employed dropped from 10.8 per cent in 1993 to 6.0 per cent in 2003.

“The most recent figures show that this proportion has fallen even further to 5.3 per cent in 2005,” Senator Patterson said.

“These are very encouraging statistics, proving that the Howard Government’s strong management of the economy has provided more job opportunities for Australians and importantly, we have supported families who want to work.

“The Howard Government is providing unprecedented financial assistance to Australian families. Over the next four years we will spend an estimated $9.5 billion on helping families with the cost of quality child care, doubling the funding provided under Labor.

“The number of child care places available to families has doubled to more than 600,000 under the Howard Government, providing parents more choices of high quality child care.

“While the introduction of Child Care Benefit and the new 30 per cent Child Care Tax Rebate improves the affordability of child care for families.

“The report also includes data on the welfare of Australia’s population, ageing and aged care services, disability and disability services, assistance for housing, services for people experiencing homelessness.

“There is always more which can be done for people needing emergency accommodation, however, the report does not include the recent Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP V) agreement between the Australian Government, and State and Territory Governments.

“This agreement will result in an extra $350 million being committed to SAAP V, bringing the total funding to $1.8 billion over the next five years.

“This Australian Government continues to recognise and support carers and people with disability, with additional funding for respite services, payment of bonuses to carers and the recently announced $200 million package paving the way for families to secure financially the future care needs of a son or daughter with a severe disability.

“Older Australians have continued to receive our support. Those in receipt of income support are now entitled to a Utilities Allowance, while the Seniors Concession Allowance is available to Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders to assist with the payment of household bills.

“We are also making the retirement income system more flexible to improve the opportunities for older Australians to work, with the introduction of the Mature Age Workers Tax Offset, the Pension Bonus Scheme and superannuation reforms.

“This publication will prove valuable in targeting assistance to those in need, it reveals the benefits of running a strong economy, providing more job opportunities and more funding to areas of need, as well as identifying where more work still needs to be done,” Senator Patterson said.