Federal Budget provides important relief but more must be done to reduce poverty

14 May 2024

The Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) welcomes many of the initiatives in this year’s Federal Budget that provide much-needed support for large parts of the Australian community.

Unfortunately, there is a long way to go until Australia is truly a fair place for all. People trapped in poverty who need the most support will find some relief in this Budget but are still being left behind. 

The Budget takes important steps to address immediate cost of living pressures despite the Federal Government navigating a difficult economic and fiscal environment.

Increasing rent assistance, growing early childhood and aged care wages, lifting support for carers, paying superannuation on parental leave, reducing student debts, boosting access to healthcare, and reforming the Stage 3 tax cuts will help everyone, especially the people we work with every day at BSL.

While BSL is pleased to see the Government adopt some recommendations from the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, we are disappointed no further changes have been announced to the base rates of Jobseeker and its indexation, or to the Activity Test for the Child Care Subsidy.   

Although we recognise the need for energy bill relief to ease cost of living pressure, we are surprised the rebate is not means tested. Greater support for low-income households, including for electrification, would have delivered targeted and enduring relief.

BSL is pleased to see the extension of the Saver Plus Program – the longest running matched savings program in the world, which helps to grow financial wellbeing. We also welcome continued funding for the Youth Transition Support Program, which supports young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds to access education and employment opportunities. We look forward to continuing to deliver these programs with our partners. 

The Budget signals substantial reform ahead in employment services, the early years, support for people with disability, and accelerates the skills and training agenda for Australia’s future workforce. Over the next twelve months, we encourage the Federal Government to be as brave and ambitious in these areas as they have been with the Future Made in Australia agenda, and to set out a clear reform timeframe. 

Applying the same pace and scale to social services reform will improve the lives of those experiencing poverty and generate substantial economic and social dividends for all. 

BSL’s Executive Director Travers McLeod is available to speak to media. For enquiries: Steph Jones – 0482 163 395 or steph.jones@bsl.org.au