AYAC & the federal budget get locked up

Since this page was published the Department of Education and the Department of Employment have been created out of the former Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).

For the first time in AYAC’s short history, we were able to send one of the team into the federal budget lockup – working alongside our friends across the community sector to spend 4 hours without access to phones or the Interwebs, analysing the federal budget papers before anyone else got to see them and picking out the important measures for young Australians.

Here’s some thoughts from our bleary-eyed Deputy Director!…

Youth connections and school engagement

AYAC welcomes the continuation of the DEEWR Youth Attainment and Transitions program until December 2014. This represents a $127.7 million investment in young Australians who are struggle to remain engaged in education and training, including:

  • Youth Connections ($77.1million) – for organisations to provide services for young people requiring support through the challenges they face in the lives in order to remain engaged in education. The funding includes an increase to cover the cost of wage increases to the social and community sector under the equal pay case.
  • School Business Community Partnership Brokers ($46.9million) – to link students with local support organisations and opportunities to interact with local business, wrapping around students to provide better environments for educational success.

Funding for community engagement & crime prevention programs

AYAC also welcomes the new 2013-14 budget measure which will give not-for-profit organisations access to up to $300,000 to fund community engagement programs with young people who might otherwise engage in street crime – under the National Crime Prevention Fund (NCPF). A total pool of $38million over two years is available under the NCPF, with money coming directly from the proceeds of crime, with the first round closing at 9pm AEST on Wednesday 29 May 2013. Youth support services are vital to ensuring positive development for young people who are at-risk or face disadvantage, and are encouraged to apply. (n.b. AYAC hopes that more funds in future can be found for these proactive community-driven programs, not just linking youth funding to the proceeds of crime).

No relief for Youth Allowance recipients

AYAC is highly disappointed that the federal government has missed the opportunity to deliver a $50 per week increase in Newstart, Youth Allowance and other benefits to allow people to live above the poverty line. Whilst the government offered a small reprieve to other income support recipients, young people on Youth Allowance have received no relief whatsoever in this budget. AYAC believes $35 a day on Newstart is not enough, $29 a day on Youth Allowance certainly isn’t enough to live on, and therefore we renew our calls for a $50 per week increase across income support allowances.

The budget forecasts also include a big increase in the number of people being pushed onto Youth Allowance, due to new limits to Family Tax Benefit Part A and other factors. This means more and more young people on a highly inadequate $29 per day that puts them well below the poverty line.

Big wins for all on big ticket budget items

AYAC joins the chorus of supporters for the two big ticket items in this budget, being funding for education reforms and DisabilityCare (the national disability insurance scheme).

Disability advocates have long known that this type of scheme will pay for itself in the long run, and investing in young people with disability will pay higher dividends for Australia, as young people are able to better access education and work opportunities in ways which most of us take for granted.

Federal funding for the education funding reforms recommended by the Gonski review panel were also contained within this year’s budget, with additional funding targetted at specific groups in need of support in education, such as disadvantaged young people and students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. But this funding came with a deadline, and with only 46 days until the 30th June we encourage all remaining states and territories and the federal government to put the interests of students ahead of their own political interests and find compromise to ensure that young people, particularly those who are being left behind by the current system, have a vital injection of funding into their schooling to support their needs.

AYAC acknowledges that the university sector has been dealt a blow by the budget, adding to funding difficulties faced by a sector that is already underfunded by international standards. However, we accept that targetted cuts have been required to fund the school educations reforms and that disadvantaged university students have been largely spared the effects of budget cuts. AYAC remains committed to high quality tertiary education that is accessible for all young Australians who want to become qualified at the degree-level.