The second budget for 2022-23 takes some positive steps towards involving more young people in decision making at the highest level, but it offers no relief for the ongoing cost-of-living pressures that disproportionately impact young people.
The Federal Government has committed $10.5 million over four years from 2022-23 for:
- Establishment of an Office for Youth. An additional$2.9 million per year ongoing is provided to the Office for Youth.
- A Youth Engagement Strategy aimed at embedding young people’s voices across policy and program design.
- A Youth Steering Committee to oversee the development of the Youth Engagement Strategy.
- Establishment of five youth advisory groups to work directly on new policies and programs across government.
- The Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) to support their critical role in youth advocacy, engagement and research.
Education, Skills and Training
Education has received some exciting increases in funding aimed at making higher education more accessible to more people, whilst also prioritising student wellbeing in schools. Major announcements include:
- $485.5 million over four years for 20,000additional Commonwealth supported places at university, targeting students from rural and remote areas, First Nations students, and students who are the first in their family to study at university. These places will be for courses where there are current skill shortages such as teaching, nursing and engineering.
- $203.7 million over two yearsto improve student wellbeing and address the impacts of COVID-19.
- $65.3 millionover four years, and a further $18.2million over two years from 2026-27for consent and respectful relationships education to help prevent gender-based violence.
- $14.1 million over four years to partner with First Nations people and primary schools to teach First Nations languages and culture.
- $921.7 million over the next five years to strengthen Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) system and address skills shortages. This includes funding for:
- 480,000 fee-free TAFE and vocational education places in industries and regions with skills shortages.
- $50 million over two years from 2022-23 to modernise IT infrastructure, workshops, laboratories, telehealth simulators, and other facilities at TAFEs across Australia.
- 180,000 fee-free TAFE and vocational education places for one year commencing 1 January 2023,in areas of highest skills need.
- $22.6 million over four years from 2022-23 for approximately 29,000 additional in-training support places for apprentices in regional and remote areas.
Housing and Homelessness
The Government is taking some steps to address housing affordability and homelessness in Australia, committing $13.4 million over four years from 2022-23 (and $4.2 million per year ongoing) to develop a 10-year National Housing and Homelessness Plan.
The Government has also negotiated a Housing Acord with state and territory governments, and other key stakeholders such as superannuation funds. This initiative will provide 1 million new affordable homes over five years, with state and territory governments each matching the federal government’s commitment to build an additional 10,000 homes per year.
In addition, the federal government will invest $3.2 million total to trial social impact investments aimed at providing support to people experiencing homelessness.
While these initiatives will provide some relief to the housing market in the medium- to long-term, the Government must do more to address youth homelessness, including by providing more social housing for young people, and addressing the rental crisis.
The Federal Government has announced significant investments to reduce emissions, train Landcare rangers, support sustainable water usage, modernise recycling systems and address the overall need for action on climate change. Initiatives include:
- $1.1 billion over six years from 2022-23, plus $2.5 million per year ongoing, to continue support for the sustainable management of Australia’s natural resources and long-term environmental, sustainable agriculture and Indigenous outcomes through the next phase of Natural Heritage Trust funding.
- $20 million for Victoria towards the CarbonNet project in Gippsland, which will go towards creating a carbon capture and storage network.
- Addressing technology and infrastructure gaps in the recycling system, including $165.1 million across Australia and $29.1 million for Victoria specifically for recycling infrastructure.
- $1.48 billion over the next three years towards sustainable rural water use and infrastructure program.
- An extension of the drought communities program to support programs aimed at providing long-term benefits for regional communities, which includes $1.1 million for Victoria.
- $95.6 million over nine years for New Energy Apprentice Support Payments.
The Government has made the following investments in disaster preparedness and relief:
- A disaster recovery allowance to help people affected by natural disasters including $1000 per eligible adult, and $400 per eligible child. $3 billion has been put aside for disaster recovery costs for this year’s flooding.
- For future disaster recovery efforts, the government is providing $38.3 million to Disaster Relief Australia which will support 5,000+ volunteers to help communities in need.
- $22.6 million for ongoing recovery for communities from the 2019–20 Black Summer bushfires in Victoria.
Cost of Living
The Federal Government has announced a five-point plan for cost-of-living relief, which includes:
- Cheaper childcare
- More paid parental leave
- Cheaper medicine via the PBS
- More affordable housing
- Real-wage growth
This plan provides some guidance for improving cost-of-living pressures in the long-term, but it does little to address the immediate challenges young people are facing associated with high inflation, low wages and insecure work, student debt and housing insecurity. Unfortunately, the government has not committed to raising the rate of JobSeeker and Youth Allowance payments, which remain below the poverty line at just $47.74a day for JobSeeker, and $37.88 a day for Youth Allowance.
The Federal Government has failed to provide the much-needed expansion to the NDIS that disabled communities have been calling for, but there are welcome investments to support autistic people, these include:
- $5.3million over two years from 2022–23 to improve outcomes for people with autism. This includes:
- $1 million in 2022–23 for the development of a National Autism Strategy.
- $0.3 million over two years from 2022–23 to commence development of a National Roadmap to improve the health and mental health of people with autism.
Youth unemployment remains more than double that of the general population at 7.9%. Young people need targeted and effective support that address the systemic issues keeping them locked out of the labour market. This budget does not go far enough to address the overrepresentation of young people experiencing un- and under-employment, but instead focuses on addressing skill shortages by investing in training and social procurement initiatives. These include:
- $12.9 million over 3 years from 2022–23 to establish Jobs and Skills Australia, which will be designed to provide national leadership and advice on Australia’s labour market, and skills and training needs.
- Existing funding will be used to design and implement the Australian Skills Guarantee, ensuring one in every ten workers on a major Commonwealth funded project is an apprentice, trainee or paid cadet. There will also be sub-targets for women in this program.
First Nations Peoples
We are thrilled to see the Federal Government investing in initiatives that take Australia one step closer to treaty and truth telling, this includes:
- $75.1 million over two years from 2022-23 to prepare for the referendum to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution.
- $5.8 million over three years from 2022-23 to establish the independent Makarrata Commission to oversee the process for agreement making and truth telling.
The Federal Government has also committed $99 million over four years to support improved justice outcomes for First Nations peoples, including $81.5 million for justice reinvestment initiatives, delivered in partnership with First Nations communities.
The Federal Government has made family violence a priority area with significant investments in preventing family violence and assisting those affected by family violence. Investments include:
- $3.4 million over 4 years for support in practically implementing 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave. This includes supporting the development and delivery of education, technical advice and support services targeting the needs of small business employers to support this implementation.
- $165 million for family, domestic and sexual violence frontline and community sector workers. This is set to provide 500 new jobs in this sector.
- $163.8 million for family, domestic and sexual violence responses, including $31.5 million for Victoria to respond to the need for services.
- $19.8 million for innovative approaches to address perpetrator behaviour to hold perpetrators to account, prevent reoffending and improve protection for victim-survivors.
While it is great to see this as a priority area, the government continues to overlook programs and initiatives that provide targeted support to young people experiencing family or intimate partner violence as victim-survivors in their own right.
The Federal Government has made some investment towards achieving gender equality. This includes:
- $15.1 million over 4 years and $3.8 million per year ongoing to include an explicit prohibition on sexual harassment in the Fair Work Act 2009.
- $3.1 million to enable the Office for Women to:
- develop a National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality,
- support the independent Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce,
- provide support across government for the implementation of Gender Responsive Budgeting and Gender Impact Assessments.
The Federal Government has made the following investments in mental health:
- $23.5 million over 4 years and $6.6 million per year ongoing to expand and strengthen the national network of Headspace services with 3 new centres located in Armstrong Creek and South Melbourne in Victoria, as well as some in NSW. This is a reallocation of existing funding.
- $242.5 million for a National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Bilateral Agreement with the states and territories, including $147.4 million over 5 years for Victoria.This funding is aimed at improving mental health and ensuring the mental health and suicide prevention systems are meeting the communities needs and sustainable.
- $47.7 million over four years to reinstate the 50% loading for bulk-billed telehealth psychiatry consultations in eligible areas in rural and regional areas.
- $1.3 million over two years to fund peak community organisations to consult with LGBTIQA+ people about barriers to accessing health services. Funding is also dedicated to QLife to recruit volunteer peer support workers. Part of this funding is reallocated from existing resourcing.
The Federal Government has made the decision not to extend the 10 additional visits to a mental health professional subsidised by Medicare, which was increased from 10 to 20 visits per calendar year throughout COVID-19 until December 2022. This initiative provided young people with much needed support in recent years, and ensured the community had access to timely, professional mental health care.
Without these supports in place young people will be unable to access the support they need, while they continue to face enormous pressures such as cost-of-living, housing security, climate anxiety, and job insecurity.
While we would love to see the government do more to address the lack of accessible, reliable and affordable public transport, particularly in rural and regional areas, we are pleased to see an investment of $2.2 billion for the development of the Suburban Rail Loop East in Melbourne.
This summary was written by Lily Day (she/her), YACVic Policy and Research Officer, and Julia Baron (she/her), YACVic Policy and Advocacy Manager. If you have any questions or concerns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.