Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is pleased to see the 2023-24 Federal Budget make changes to Medicare, income support, rental assistance and family support, which combined will improve young people’s lives. These investments are a first step, but they still leave many young people below the poverty line.
“COVID interrupted a crucial developmental phase for young people, and we are starting to see the longer-term impacts on their mental health, work opportunities and housing security. More investment by the government now would support them on a better life trajectory,” says YACVic CEO Katherine Ellis.
“Income support has been increased by $2.86 a day, which does not even cover a concession Myki fare and keeps young people well below the poverty line. We know this is a barrier to accessing appropriate education and work opportunities that can make young people financially independent.
“Tripling Medicare, boosting telehealth services and doubling medication available under one script is a fantastic improvement, particularly for young people who are disabled or chronically ill. Every person deserves equal access to quality healthcare,” says Ms Ellis.
YACVic welcomes the Homes that are built for the purpose of being rented, not sold as investment properties.build-to-rent investment; we are hopeful it will provide much-needed housing that is suitable, affordable and liveable for young people, but immediate relief is also urgent.
“Young people are experiencing chronic housing insecurity right now due to soaring rent prices, gaps in protections and the poor quality of rental housing stock. Significantly increasing income support, improving renters’ rights and a National Youth Homelessness Strategy are what is needed so young people can have safe and secure homes,” says Ms Ellis.
The Budget includes a one-time energy payment up to $500 that young people on income support will be eligible for. “This is brief relief in an energy crisis,” says Ms Ellis. “For many young Victorians bracing for another winter in old share houses with low energy efficiency, this will probably only cover a couple of months’ bills.”
More investment in youth services would strengthen cost-of-living relief in an immediate and real way, support families, and ease pressure on acute services in healthcare, mental health care, alcohol and other drug services, family violence services and homelessness services.
The introduction of Superannuation being paid on the day that you get your pay check, instead of at an employer’s discretion.payday super by 2026 is a win for young people. YACVic are hopeful this will counter super theft and its long-term implications which disproportionately impact young workers. Along with the criminalisation of wage theft in Victoria, this will create meaningful change for young people in our state.
We are disappointed to see no action on the indexation of HECS debts, that are far outstripping young people’s ability to reasonably pay them and will impact their financial security long-term.
YACVic is looking forward to working with the government to achieve the best results for young people and reduce intergenerational inequity, which in turn benefits all Australians.
YACVic’s full budget analysis will be available next week (week commencing 15 May).
Other notable announcements for young people
Family income support: YACVic welcomes the change of the single parent payment threshold that will allow single parents to receive support until their youngest child is 14 years old (previously 8 years old). This much needed change will ease pressure on young families, however it does not address entrenched systemic issues that see many young people unable to support themselves financially as they move into their late teens and early twenties.
Mental health: YACVic welcomes $10.5 million to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during the referendum period.
Disability: YACVic welcomes the commitment to reducing fraud in the NDIS. We urge the government to use this as an opportunity to ensure the NDIS can grow with the needs of disabled people through co-design and co-production. The government should also provide increased support that recognises disabled young people navigate more complex systems with limited support, and ensure employment and housing services are fully inclusive and accessible.
Free TAFE: 300,000 fee-free TAFE and VET places. YACVic are hopeful this will be include rural and regional areas.
Sexual and reproductive health: YACVic welcomes investment in consent social media resources; strengthening sexual assault and consent laws and a review of justice responses to sexual violence; and an extension of STI and blood borne virus prevention, intervention and treatment.
Alcohol and other drugs (AOD): $68.3 million has been invested across early intervention, prevention and treatment. This includes investment which will directly benefit young people and reduce harm.
Vaping: The government will regulate nicotine vaping products, fund national public health campaigns and increase support for people to stop vaping and smoking. We welcome this investment that aims to reduce vaping-related harms, particularly for young people. We are concerned overregulation may see the criminalisation and stigmatisation of young people who currently vape, serving as a barrier to help seeking for those young people experiencing nicotine dependence.
Climate change: Investments include clean energy, energy efficient housing upgrades, electric vehicles, and consumer behaviour change for waste.
Family violence: We welcome the review of emergency accommodation services and their suitability for children, and an independent evaluation of the 1800 RESPECT service. YACVic knows young people are also victim-survivors in their own right who need specialised support, which unfortunately has not been explicitly recognised in this budget.
Media contact: Katia Pellicciotta (she/her), YACVic Media and Communications Coordinator on 9267 3744 or KPellicciotta@YACVic.org.au.
YACVic CEO Katherine Ellis and young people speaking from lived experience are available for comment or interview.
About Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic)
Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is the peak body and leading advocate for young people aged 12–25 and youth workers in Victoria. Our vision is that the rights of young people in Victoria are respected, and they are active, visible and valued in their communities.