The Federal budget was handed down on 9 May to mixed responses. At the CSIA, we’ve focused on what opportunities the Budget presented for the Community Services Industry, with a specific emphasis on the broader economic policy agenda.
The Government has provided an overview of the Budget titled Advancing Queensland’s Economy and it’s currently on the Budget website.
Here you’ll find summary documents as well as the full budget papers.
You may find that you’re most interested in Budget Paper 4 which lists Budget measures by portfolios.
|Budget measure||Why is it important|
Reducing pressure on housing affordability
The Housing affordability measures provide opportunities for community service organisations to participate in social impact investment trials aimed at improving outcomes for young people at risk of homelessness.
The Federal Government will liaise with state and territory governments to determine interest.
Funds will also be available to assist organisations to develop business plans, improved data sharing, and outcomes measurement.
The Bond Aggregator will enable community housing providers to access affordable finance for affordable housing projects.
The National Housing and Homelessness Agreement provides for bilateral schedules with state and territory governments. It preserves funding for homelessness services and provides targets for social and affordable housing.
|Commonwealth redress scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse||
The states will need to ‘refer powers’ to allow the Commonwealth to deal with matters relating to children, before institutions can opt in to a national scheme.
The scheme that has been announced is a Commonwealth scheme designed for survivors of Commonwealth institutions, and the subsequent goal is for this to be extended by states and institutions by opting in.
Many community service organisations have established their own schemes and will need to determine – and plan for – the impact of a national scheme.
|Budget measures||Why is it important?|
|Protecting disability services||
An increase in the Medicare levy by half a percentage point will result in the extra funds being directed to the NDIS Savings Fund, along with any NDIS underspends.
This provides more certainty for NDIS funding.
With the NDIS Costs Inquiry still active, and benchmarks being developed, there is still uncertainty about longer term NDIS pricing. All this leaves disability service providers under pressure from current pricing schedules.
The establishment of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission will implement the new NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework recently announced by the Department of Social Services.
This budget measure also provides funds to support the growth of the NDIS workforce.
A scheme will be outlined in the Productivity Commission’s final report on the NDIS Costs Inquiry which is due to be released in September 2017.
See CSIA submission to the NDIS Costs Inquiry here
|Investing in mental health||There will be opportunities for mental health providers to access funds to deliver additional psychosocial support and suicide prevention services.|
The 2018/19 Federal Budget aims to reduce the budget deficit with measures that may be more acceptable to the Senate.
The focus on reducing the budget deficit means a continued pressure to demonstrate value for money and outcomes for high expenditure areas such as social services.
The budget also aims to stimulate jobs growth.
Ours is a growth industry, and is well placed to attract investment and labour during the next 10-years.
The Productivity Commission’s initial report on Transitioning Regional Economies has highlighted the sporadic jobs growth across regions.
The Community Services Industry is a high growth industry, and the NDIS is poised to deliver up to 30,000 new jobs over the next ten years, many in regional Queensland.
Approximately 22% of these jobs are in regional and remote locations.
The NDIS Workforce Strategy strategic plan developed by the Workability consortium (CSIA, QCOSS, NDS and Health and Community Services Workforce Council) focusses on State-wide and place based supply and capability as well as market stewardship arrangements.
This includes workforce planning in areas prior to the NDIS implementation, as well preparedness of systems that support the workforce such as the VET sector.
Key strategies focus on upskilling the current workforce to meet the new demands of the NDIS and support the Industry to grow by those 30,000 new workers we mentioned earlier.
This budget theme provides more funding certainty for the implementation of the NDIS.
However, the Community Services Industry will continue to be challenged by price pressures.
The Community Services Industry is well placed to provide data to better understand cost drivers for quality service provision, build and maintain a capable workforce, and to grow the Industry to meet demand.
In implementing the NDIS the Community Services Industry has been relegated to the role of provider rather than being positioned as the experts who are integral to successful implementation.
This theme also focusses on alternative investment through social impact investment.
Funding diversification will be critical for our Industry to meet increasing demand and to respond to issues related to social and economic disadvantage.
Social impact investment provides a range of financing instruments primarily aimed at leveraging funds from the private sector.
However, the Industry will continue to be dominated by government funding growth. That growth and sustainability will require a diversity of additional funding and financing models, including:
It has never been more important for the Community Services Industry, governments and the private sector to work together for the NDIS to succeed.
A strong Industry voice and interface with the market regulator is essential to successful NDIS implementation.
There is some momentum from the Industry, government and private sector towards a developing social investment market.
A range of investor incentives, access to start-up capital and less red tape will support the Industry to realise this potential.
The Bond Aggregator may improve access to capital, and there is an opportunity to continue to lobby for a more conducive social impact investment environment that addresses and aligns supply and demand.
State and Federal Governments, along with the Community Services Industry, recognise the need for funding reform to improve the focus on value for money, achieve outcomes, and measure them well.
Current funding arrangements are unwieldy, inflexible, and provide little opportunity for service providers to meet the changing needs of clients. Program logic may be absent or not supported by evidence.
There is an opportunity for the Community Services Industry to take a lead role in funding reform.
Initially, the Industry can communicate its evidence base for service models in areas where the evidence is strong, and identify strategies to strengthen the evidence base.
This will lead to a stronger position from which to engage with Government to develop a shared approach to funding reform.
As always, we welcome your feedback on any of the issues raised. The CSIA will continue to look for opportunities to engage with the Government’s policy agenda for the benefit of the Industry.
If you have ideas about how to do this or you would like to participate in shaping the approach please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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