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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Federal Budget: Health, education and social services

The Federal Government announced it would double funding for ACT hospitals to $461.2 million in Tuesday night’s Federal Budget, Liberal Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja said. As part of the 2020–25 National Health Reform Agreement, the Government would spend more than $130 billion on public hospitals over five years.

Nationally, the Government had also invested $354 million in women’s health, including an additional $148 million over five years for women’s health care services and $47.4 million over four years for perinatal and postnatal mental health.

More budget coverage:

The Government had also committed $379.3 million for ACT education – “the highest ever investment in education for the Territory,” Senator Seselja said. Recurrent annual funding for schools had increased from $13.8 billion in 2014 to $23.4 billion in 2021, and the Government had committed to spend $289 billion in total recurrent funding over the next decade.

He said more than 4,600 Canberrans would benefit from a $1.7 billion childcare boost nationally over five years to reduce the cost of childcare, on top of $9.7 billion this year to help families with out-of-pocket costs.

The Government will commit $17.7 billion for an aged care reform package to improve Australia’s aged care systems ($119 billion over the next four years) in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Government spending this year on aged care is expected to be $25.9 billion, almost twice as much as in 2012–13.

Labor Senator Katy Gallagher argued, however, that the aged care package fell short of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

The Government will spend $2.3 billion over the next four years for mental health and suicide prevention, and $164.8 million to support women who escape family and domestic violence.

ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) director Dr Emma Campbell said she was pleased the Government was investing in aged care, mental health, childcare, and domestic violence services after many years of austerity and the pandemic.

“The long-overdue investment in community services will contribute to fixing major gaps in care, and supporting growing numbers of vulnerable Canberrans. It will also generate crucial jobs, overwhelmingly for women.”

However, Senator Gallagher said the Coalition had “presided over an aged-care crisis, an energy crisis, a housing crisis, and a skills crisis”.

“They’re now cynically using their eighth Budget to pretend they care about the issues and Australians they’ve ignored in the last seven.”

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