The 2015 Federal Budget will have notable impact on community members who receive support through, or use, ICH programs such as Family Day Care (Brisbane Kids and Kites) and 50 & Better (Acacia Ridge and Skylarkers).
Some of the Budget highlights are:
For Parents with Children
- Family Day Care will lose $157m in funding from 30 June 2015. Only services in specific remote and disadvantaged areas (where there is a single provider) will receive a limited amount of funding in 2015-16.
- The Government has announced a signature Child Care Subsidy package. This new single means-tested Subsidy will replace the existing Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance programs.
- The new Subsidy aims to encourage workplace participation for parents, who will be required to undertake at least eight hours a fortnight of work, study or training to qualify for any child care support.
- Families earning $65,000 (or less) will get 85 per cent of their fees subsidised. The subsidy will reduce to 50 per cent for families earning $170,000 or more.
- Despite the loss of funding to Family Day Care providers occurring almost immediately, the new Child Care Subsidy will not start until 1 July 2017, some two years after funding is cut.
- The implementation of the new Child Care Subsidy will be funded by welfare cuts from the 2014 Federal Budget – which has yet to be passed by Senate. At this stage, both opposition and cross-bench Senators are opposing the cuts.
- The next Federal Election will be held sometime between 30 June 2016 and 14 January 2017, well before the announced starting date of the new Child Care Subsidy. The next Federal Election will likely be held between 1 September and 15 November 2016.
- Although the funding cuts will occur effective 30 June 2015, the new Child Care Subsidy may not occur if the Senate continues to block the 2014 welfare cuts and/or if there is a change of Government in late 2016.
- In addition, a $216m two-year pilot program is created to provide in-home nannies. This Nanny Pilot is specifically targeted at shift workers such as nurses, firefighters and police who cannot access regular child care services due to their working hours; and families with children that have special needs. The pilot is scheduled to begin in January 2016.
- Under the new Child Care Subsidy, hourly benchmark prices will be $11.55 (long day care), $10.70 (family day care), $10.10 (out-of-school hours care) and $7.00 (in-home care nanny pilot program).
For Expecting and New Parents
- New parents can no longer access the government’s 18-week minimum wage paid parental leave, if their workplace maternity leave schemes are more generous. However, those with schemes less generous will be able to access the gap between the two.
- As a result, there will be more new mothers forced back into workforce earlier after giving birth, with more younger children needing care. This is especially an issue when coupled with the announced Job Package, as new mothers are discouraged to take longer maternity leave to avoid losing both family tax benefits and child care access.
- Previously, singles over the age of 65 with assets (excluding the family home) of less than $775,000 were able to claim the part pension. However the new limit will be $550,000.
- The Government expects 172,000 pensioners at the lower end of the pension to be better off, but 81,000 pensioners who are on a part pension at the higher end will lose their pension.
- The indexation of pensions will not change at this time.
- The Youth Employment Strategy announced will help young people into the workforce, especially in areas of high youth unemployment, young people with mental health concerns and young migrants.
The Impact on ICH and its Programs and Services
Inala Community House (ICH) has been aware for many months that Government funding of Family Day Care would cease on 30 June 2015. We decided early on that Family Day Care is a critical service to the community. With Federal Government pressure on families to stay in work, and for at-home-parents to seek paid employment or undertake training outside of the home in order to continue to receive basic family support and services from Government, the demand for Family Day Care is set to grow substantially.
Because of the loss of Government funding, we have been planning for some time as to how best to not only maintain the same high-quality service which we have been providing for 40 years through Brisbane Kids and nearly 35 years through KITES, but to grow and respond to the pressures families will face from Federal Government decisions announced in the budget. In order to save some costs, and achieve synergies from a unified set of procedures and staff, the very best of Brisbane Kids and KITES will be merged into a single new service called MyPlace Family Day Care (FDC). This will reduce some of the price rise that will be necessary from such a savage cut as the Federal Government abandons its support for what is the best and most effective child care option available.
It is inevitable that prices of Family Day Care at every provider will have to rise to cover the nearly 40% loss of funding.
Every Family Day Care service committed to quality, like the new MyPlace FDC, will have to choose whether to close, or raise prices to replace Government funding, even after cost savings. MyPlace FDC will be setting its new prices to be inline and better with its competitors in the market – and as always as a non-profit, monies will be plowed back into providing family day care services and supporting the community and not into the pockets of an owner looking to profit from educators, families and children.
CAERSU, a program run by ICH, already provides support for Early Learning Centres to work with families with children with special needs and cultural or other inclusion issues. CAERSU and MyPlace FDC will be exploring how to expand support to shift-working families – we already have educators providing support for shift-working families and single parents – and to families with children who have special needs.
Some of the older community members attending activities run by ICH through the 50 & Better (Acacia Ridge) and 50 & Better (Skylarkers) programs may be affected by the changes – some receiving more, some losing part or all of their pension.
ICH through its Community Support Program and the Community Settlement Service supports disadvantaged and migrant youth through such programs a Homework Club to help youth at school gain the best education preparation possible for entry into the workforce or further trade or university education.
In conclusion, ICH will continue to provide updates on how it is working to support communities, especially with more families facing greater financial stress following the 2015 Federal Budget.
For more details on the 2015 Federal Budget, please visit the official Budget website. Also credit to ABC news source.