Budget at a Glance for Women
Tuesday night's Federal Budget included a number of measures that will affect women. Here's a quick summary - read the full details at the official Budget 2011 website. This is a work in progress, more will be added as we keep reading the documents.
Building Australia's Future Workforce
- Allow Disability Support Pension recipients to work up to 30 hours per week and remain eligible for part-pension for up to 2 years (previously a 15 hour per week limit). From 1 July 2012, Disability Support Pension recipients under 35 years old with capacity to work 8 or more hours per week will be required to have a plan with Centrelink to participate in the workforce. Fewer claimants are expected to be granted the Disability Support Pension due to the introductions of "more efficient and accurate assessments for Disability Support Pension and employment services" from 1 January 2012. There are also more wage subsidies for employers who take on a job seeker with a disability.
- Parents of teens will be more likely to receive Family Tax Benefit from 1 January 2012. Parents of teens aged 16 to 19 years in full time secondary study will be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A, and rates will be increased to match the rates for 13 to 15 years. Eligibility for Family Tax Benefit Part B for 16 to 19 year olds will be dependent on continuing full time secondary study. Teens aged 16 to 19 years will also be included in the parental income test for Youth Allowance, ensuring that Youth Allowance recipients in the family are not disadvantaged by having siblings remain on Family Tax Benefit.
- From 1 January 2012, employers will receive a wage subsidy equivalent to the average rate of Newstart Allowance if they take on a job seeker who has been receiving income support payments for at least two years and have minimal recent paid work.
- The parental means test will apply to young people receiving Youth Allowance or Newstart Allowance with the condition that they are looking for work, until they are 21 years old (currently 20 years old). Newstart Allowance claimants must be 22 years or older (currently 21 years). The income free, for earned income that does not affect benefits, for Youth Allowance will also increase. These changes will take effect 1 July 2012 and will save $183.9m over four years.
- Additional funding of $143.1m over four years for an additional 30,000 places in the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program for job seekers to receive up to 800 hours of free, accreditated LLN training.
- From 1 January 2013, parents who have been on Parenting Payment prior to 1 July 2006 will cease eligibility when the youngest child turns 12 (currently 16). Parents will be transitioned to Newstart Allowance, with a more generous income test for parents of children under 16. For parents who started receiving Parenting Payment after 1 July 2006, eligibility will cease when the youngest child turns six (partnered) or eight (single). Parents who started receiving Parenting Payment before 1 July 2006, and have a baby after 1 July 2011, will be eligible in the same way as parents commencing Parenting Payment after 1 July 2006.
- Single parents will be eligible for support services from 1 January 2012 to assist in obtaining employment. These include professional career advisory services, and activities through Communities for Children "to develop personal skills, confidence and parenting capacity" and "improve educational and health outcomes for children".
- Funding will be provided to the States and Territories under a new National Partnership from 1 January 2012 and 30 June 2015. The funding will provide up to 31,000 training places, at the Certificate II level or above, for single and teenage parents on income support.
Ten Targeted Locations
- The following iniatives will apply to ten locations considered to be "areas of entrenched disadvantage". These are Playford (SA), Hume and Shepparton (VIC), Burnie (TAS), Bankstown, Wyong and Shellharbour (NSW), Rockhampton and Logan (QLD), and Kwinana (WA). The changes will take effect 1 July 2012.
- Teen parents receiving Parenting Payment in ten targeted locations will be required to attend interviews with Centrelink every six months until their child turns six years old. The interviews will be used to develop a compulsory participation plan aimed at completing Year 12 or equivalent qualifications, or obtain employment. There will be some funding for childcare costs. Compulsory participation plans may also include assistance with the cost of activities aimed at achieving outcomes, including facilitated playgroups and parenting programs.
- Parents who have been receiving income support payments for at least two years, or who are under 23 years old, "will be required to attend compulsory workshops and interviews with Centrelink to set personal and family goals". Funds will be provided for childcare costs, and for "access services to overcome pre‑vocational barriers to employment, engage with their community and improve health and education outcomes for their children".
- An evaluation of the initiatives will be undertaken over five years, at a cost of $9.5m.
- The compulsory Child Protection measures from West Australia, Voluntary Income Management, as well as Vulnerable Welfare Payment Recipient Measure from the Northern Territory will be rolled out in an additional five locations around Australia: Bankstown, Logan, Rockhampton, Shepparton, and Playford. These locations are also included in the ten locations selected for additional measures relating to Parenting Payment and jobless families.
- Cape York welfare reform trial extended until 31 December 2012. West Australian Child Protection compulsory Income Management and Voluntary Income Management trial extended until 30 June 2012.
Gender Equality in the Workplace
- Equality Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency to be renamed the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, and amending the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 to explicitly refer to pay equity for both men and women, and development of an online reporting tool and assistance provided for employers to meet new requirements. Funded through redirection of funding of $3.1m from the Women's Leadership Development program. Remaining $13.6m will remain available over a four year period for the WLD program, of which part will be redirected to additional project funding for the six women's Alliances.
Reform of Family Payments
- The Healthy Start for School measure requires parents on income support payments to have a health assessment for their child within two years of the end of the year their child turns four. Parents who do not comply lose eligibility for the Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement for parents on income support.
- From 1 January 2012, eligibility for Family Tax Benefot Part A will cease when a child turns 22 years old, from which time the child will become eligible for Youth Allowance at the independent rate "subject to the usual means testing and academic progress rules". This aligns eligibility for FTB Part A with the age of independence for Youth Allowance.
- Rates of Family Tax Benefit supplements will be fixed at current levels until 1 July 2014, rather than being indexed by CPI. This will save $803.2m over five years. Indexation of upper limits and thresholds for means tests on Family Tax Benefit Part A and B will also cease until 1 July 2014, saving an additional $1,201.9m over four years. This means that as income from wages continues to rise over the next four years, some families will lose more of their Family Tax Benefit payments than they would have if upper limits and thresholds continue to be indexed. It should be noted that more young people aged 16 to 21 years will remain within the Family Tax Benefit system due to changes to Youth Allowance independent rate eligibility.
- Initiatives have been announced to better identify young people at risk of mental illness. These include improvement of the Australian Early Development Index, and a Social Engagement and Emotional Development survey for young people aged 8 to 14 years.
- $6.1 million over four years to continue supporting the National Centre for Gynaecological Cancers within Cancer Australia.
- $0.5 million in 2011‑12 to fund a National Advisory Council on Dental Health. Government has committed that significant reforms to dental health will be a priority for the 2012‑13 Budget.
- Funding of $315m over six years for the Royal Hobart Hospital and Port Macquarie Base Hospital from the Health and Hospitals Fund (HHF) to on the Government's agreement with the Member for Lyne and the Member for New England.
- $475.0 million to fund a further Regional Priority Round from the HHF to support the development of health infrastructure in regional areas.
- Financial literacy and micro-finance projects provided by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Good Shepherd to continue to be funded until 2014-15.
- Implementation of the Paid Paternity Leave scheme will be delayed by six months from 1 July 2012 to 1 January 2013, saving $33.3m over four years.