Australian Government, 2009‑10 Budget
Budget

Part 2: Expense Measures

Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Care determinations — alignment across Family Assistance Office and Child Support Program

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Centrelink - 5.5 1.0 0.3 0.3
Department of Human Services - 3.8 4.8 -5.9 -10.3
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - .. - - -
Total - 9.3 5.8 -5.6 -10.0

The Government will ensure that parents only have to participate in one care determination in order to work out their entitlements for both child support and family assistance purposes. At present, care determinations for child support purposes are made by the Child Support Program in the Department of Human Services, while separate care determinations for Family Tax Benefit purposes are undertaken by Centrelink.

This measure will deliver a simpler and more convenient process for parents and remove the duplication of effort between the Child Support Program and Centrelink, and provide savings of $0.5 million over four years. Ongoing savings will be approximately $10 million per annum from 2012‑13.

Children with a disability — additional outside school hours care

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 1.1 1.3 1.3 1.4
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 1.0 1.1 1.1 1.1
Total - 2.0 2.4 2.4 2.5

The Government will provide $9.3 million over four years to provide an additional 250 places for outside school hours and vacation care for teenagers with a disability or a severe medical condition. Services delivering the extra places will commence in September 2009.

The measure will help to ensure that teenagers with a disability can access care appropriate to their needs, and parents and carers of teenagers with a disability can increase their participation in employment.

Closing the Gap — APS Indigenous Employment Strategy

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Australian Public Service Commission - 2.0 2.0 2.0 -

The Government will provide $6.0 million over three years to the Australian Public Service (APS) Commission to continue the APS Indigenous Employment Strategy. The strategy aims to increase the employment and retention of Indigenous Australians across the APS and is designed to address Indigenous recruitment, vocational training and retention issues.

The Government has committed, under the COAG National Partnership on Indigenous Economic Participation, to a target of 2.6 per cent Indigenous public sector employment by 2015.

Closing the Gap — Business Action Agenda

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 0.7 0.8 0.8 0.8

The Government will provide $3.0 million over four years for a Business Action Agenda to encourage and support businesses to provide employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians. The agenda will include establishing a national Indigenous economic participation advisory group to assist in leveraging corporate action to improve Indigenous employment and business outcomes. The group will also provide strategic advice to the Government on initiatives to improve Indigenous economic participation.

Closing the Gap — Clearinghouse

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - - 0.5 0.5 0.5

The Government will provide an additional $1.5 million over three years for a Clearinghouse to gather and disseminate evidence on effective policy interventions to address Indigenous disadvantage. The 2008‑09 Budget provided funding in 2008‑09 and 2009‑10 for the Clearinghouse and this measure continues funding for a further three years.

The Australian Government's contribution is to be matched by the States and Territories.

Closing the Gap — Community Development Employment Projects Program (CDEP) and the Indigenous Employment Program (IEP) Reform

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 10.1 142.8 165.4 260.8 280.1
Centrelink 3.2 5.2 5.7 11.4 11.2
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts - 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.5
Department of Health and Ageing - - - - 0.6
Department of Finance and Deregulation 0.4 - - - -
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs 7.7 -109.5 -98.9 -243.5 -271.3
Total 21.4 42.5 76.3 33.0 25.0
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs 3.4 0.6 - - -
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 0.3 - - -
Total 3.4 0.9 - - -

The Government is reforming the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) program and the Indigenous Employment Program to assist more Indigenous job seekers to prepare for and take up work, with net additional funding of $202.4 million over five years (including $24.8 million in 2008‑09).

The CDEP program will cease in non‑remote areas with established economies from 1 July 2009. A new Community Support Service will be provided in urban and regional locations with significant Indigenous populations to assist Indigenous people to access employment and other services.

In communities with limited and emerging economies, the CDEP program will be restructured into two streams:

  • a Work Readiness Service stream that will provide a personal development pathway for job seekers from foundation skills to work readiness, including through the provision of up to 3,000 paid on‑the‑job work experience placements, with wage subsidies provided to work experience employers as an incentive to create these opportunities; and
  • a Community Development stream, which will fund community projects and build the capacity of local communities, service providers and enterprises.

From 1 July 2009, new participants will be paid standard income support payments, with existing participants continuing to access CDEP wages until 30 June 2011 before transferring to income support payments, consistent with other Indigenous job seekers.

In addition, employment and training opportunities for Indigenous job seekers will be created across government services and in the Cape York welfare reform trial communities.

Under these reforms, the Government will also expand the Indigenous Employment Program, providing more support for individuals, communities, employers and industry bodies.

Additional funding will also be provided for the Workplace English Language and Literacy program to train workers in language, literacy and numeracy skills.

Further information on the reforms can be found in the press release of 19 December 2008 issued jointly by the Minister for Families, Housing and Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Minister for Employment Participation.

Closing the Gap — expanding link-up services for the Stolen Generations

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Health and Ageing - 2.3 5.5 6.1 -

The Government will provide an additional $13.8 million over three years to address additional recommendations of the Bringing Them Home report. The report, completed in 1997, highlighted past practices of forced removal of Indigenous children from their families, commonly known as the Stolen Generations. The funding will provide for an additional 11 Link‑Up caseworkers and additional support staff to help members of the Stolen Generations to trace, locate and reunite with their families. This expansion will allow up to 351 extra family reunions and over 100 'return to country' reunions for individuals and families affected by past practices of forced removal.

This measure builds on the $15.7 million announced in the 2008‑09 Budget measure Closing the Gap — Bringing Them Home counsellors and Link‑Up services.

Further information can be found in the press release of 13 February 2009 issued by the Prime Minister.

Closing the Gap — funding for the Native Title system

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 7.0 13.4 20.1 21.6
Federal Court of Australia - .. .. -0.1 -0.1
Attorney-General's Department - -0.7 -0.4 -0.5 -0.5
National Native Title Tribunal - -2.3 -2.4 -2.4 -2.5
Total - 4.0 10.6 17.1 18.4

The Government will provide $50.1 million over four years for the Native Title system to speed up the resolution of Native Title claims. This funding, which includes additional resourcing for Native Title Representative Bodies, will enable the Government to continue to pursue a more efficient system that increasingly resolves Native Title issues through agreement‑making and mediation, rather than litigation. This measure includes additional funding of $45.8 million over four years for the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and $4.3 million over four years for the Attorney‑General's Department.

This $50.1 million is in addition to $73.0 million over four years already included in the forward estimates. Part of the funding already provided in the forward estimates ($16.3 million over four years) will be reallocated to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs from the Attorney‑General's Department ($6.5 million), the Federal Court of Australia ($0.2 million) and the National Native Title Tribunal ($9.6 million).

This measure has been implemented in response to the 2008 Review of Funding of the Native Title System and contributes to Closing the Gap initiatives and Indigenous economic development.

Closing the Gap — improving eye and ear health services for Indigenous Australians

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Health and Ageing - 6.2 15.4 18.3 18.5

The Government will provide $58.3 million over four years to improve eye and ear health services for Indigenous Australians. This funding will help reduce the extent of avoidable vision and hearing loss among Indigenous Australians, and will support closing the gap in education and employment outcomes by reducing barriers to reading and writing.

This funding will provide for additional eye and ear surgical procedures, expanded ear health workforce training, investment in hearing medical equipment, ear health promotion, improved trachoma (a form of eye disease) control and better access to optometrists.

Further information can be found in the joint press release of 26 February 2009 issued by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Closing the Gap — Indigenous dental services in rural and regional areas

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Health and Ageing - 1.3 2.9 3.4 3.4

The Government will provide $11.0 million over four years to deliver dental treatment and preventive services to Indigenous people in rural and regional areas. This funding will provide for transportable dental facilities serviced by dental health professionals of address the high incidence of untreated tooth decay and gum disease experienced by Indigenous people. This funding also provides for an evaluation of the effectiveness of the strategies, including cost‑effectiveness and equity, to inform any further activity after the initial four years.

Closing the Gap — Indigenous electoral participation program

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Australian Electoral Commission - 1.2 4.7 3.1 3.5
Australian Electoral Commission - 0.4 - - -

The Government will provide $13.0 million over four years (including $0.4 million in capital in 2009‑10) to the Australian Electoral Commission to provide electoral education and promote enrolment and voting in Indigenous communities in remote, regional and urban areas.

Closing the Gap — Indigenous Healing Foundation

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 5.9 7.8 8.0 5.0

The Government will provide $26.6 million over four years to establish an Indigenous Healing Foundation. With a focus on the Stolen Generations, the Foundation will develop and deliver programs at the community level to address the impact of trauma and hurt experienced by Indigenous people. The Indigenous Healing Foundation will develop a best practice evidence base for programs and will provide training to mainstream service providers and to Indigenous people in healing professions.

Further information can be found in the joint press release of 13 February 2009 issued by the Prime Minister, the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and the Minister for Health and Ageing.

Closing the Gap — National Indigenous Violence and Child Abuse Intelligence Task Force

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Australian Crime Commission - 5.5 - - -

The Government will provide $5.5 million in 2009‑10 to the Australian Crime Commission for continuation of the National Indigenous Violence and Child Abuse Intelligence Task Force to provide a more complete picture of the nature of Indigenous family violence and abuse.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — Commonwealth Ombudsman support

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 -

The Government will provide $3.3 million over four years to the Commonwealth Ombudsman to fund the continuation of outreach visits to remote Indigenous communities and independent oversight of the Northern Territory Emergency Response through the delivery of effective complaint handling, and the identification and resolution of systemic issues.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — community engagement

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 9.6 12.4 12.6 -

The Government will provide $34.6 million over three years to continue community engagement as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response. This measure includes funding for Indigenous Engagement Officers and community leadership and governance development activities.

By establishing a relationship with Indigenous people based on consultation, engagement and partnership, the Government will maximise the impact of its policies in closing the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — community stores

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 7.9 5.3 4.2 -
Department of the Treasury - 0.3 0.3 0.3 -
Total - 8.2 5.6 4.5 -

The Government will provide $18.3 million over three years to continue maintaining and improving the functioning of community stores to ensure they are providing adequate food supply and services to Indigenous people living in the Northern Territory. This measure includes funding to assess, license and monitor stores to address problems associated with poor‑quality food, limited range and high prices in community stores. Governance and leadership training will also be provided to bolster the capacity and functioning of community stores.

This funding includes $0.9 million over three years which will be paid to the Northern Territory Government. Under the new framework for federal financial relations, commencing 1 January 2009, payments to the States and Territories, with a few exceptions, will be made by the Australian Treasury to state treasuries.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — coordination and policy advice

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 3.9 3.8 3.3 -

The Government will provide $11.0 million over three years to continue policy advice, program management and whole‑of‑government coordination, to ensure that the implementation of measures in Northern Territory Indigenous communities occurs smoothly and effectively. The measure also includes funding for monitoring and an evaluation in 2011‑12, which will help to ensure policies in the Northern Territory have maximum impact in addressing Indigenous disadvantage.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — crèches

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 4.4 2.3 2.3 -

The Government will provide $9.1 million over three years to fund the operation of eight new crèches established under the Northern Territory Emergency Response, construct and operate a ninth new crèche, and complete upgrades to two more existing crèches. This funding includes expenditure of $2.2 million in 2009‑10 for construction and upgrades. The crèches will provide a platform for the delivery of early childhood services such as immunisation and health screening, parenting support and information, nutrition programs, and child abuse prevention and awareness education.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — early childhood

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 0.5 0.5 0.5 -

The Government will provide $1.5 million over three years to extend existing child and family support services in the Northern Territory. These services will support vulnerable Indigenous families to address complex issues such as substance abuse and family violence. Projects will develop parenting skills, address family violence, child development and wellbeing, and link families with other services such as housing, health and education.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — enhancing education — quality teaching and accelerated literacy

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of the Treasury - 13.4 13.8 10.4 -
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 2.9 2.9 2.3 -
Total - 16.2 16.7 12.7 -

The Government will provide $45.7 million over three years to continue and expand education initiatives in the Northern Territory. This will assist Northern Territory education providers to accelerate the learning outcomes of their Indigenous students. This measure includes funding of:

  • $23.0 million over three years for the continuation of the Quality Teaching Initiative, which will provide assistance to 1,345 educational staff in remote Indigenous communities with professional development, workplace coaching, laptops for assistant teachers, and grants and completion incentives to encourage the acquisition of nationally‑recognised professional qualifications; and
  • $22.7 million over three years for the continuation of four existing accelerated literacy specialist teams in 35 schools in remote Indigenous communities and the expansion of the program into a further 22 schools in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

This funding includes $37.6 million which will be paid to the Northern Territory Government. Under the new framework for federal financial relations, commencing 1 January 2009, payments to the States, with a few exceptions, will be made by the Australian Treasury to state treasuries.

Further funding of $7.0 million will be provided for 15 additional classrooms in Northern Territory remote communities through the Government's $14.7 billion Building the Education Revolution initiative, which was announced in February 2009 as part of the Updated Economic and Fiscal Outlook. These classrooms will be in addition to 25 additional classrooms in schools in Northern Territory Indigenous communities funded in 2007‑08 and 2008‑09.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — enhancing education — school nutrition

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 12.3 11.7 11.5 -
Centrelink - 1.4 0.4 0.3 -
Total - 13.7 12.0 11.8 -

The Government will provide $37.5 million over three years as a contribution towards the continuation of the School Nutrition Program established in the Northern Territory. The program aims to improve school attendance, student performance and health by providing nutritious breakfasts and lunches to school students. The program will also provide job opportunities and training for local Indigenous people living in remote communities and support the local economy by purchasing goods from local retailers.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — enhancing education — teacher housing

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 11.2 - - -

The Government will provide $11.2 million in 2009‑10 as a contribution towards the construction of 22 additional houses for teachers at schools in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

Funding for the construction of houses for teachers in government schools will be provided through the Northern Territory Government, while funding for non‑government schools will be provided through the Northern Territory Block Grant Authority. A contribution will be sought from the Northern Territory Government and the non‑government school sector for the land, site development costs and ongoing house maintenance.

This funding is in addition to the $5.0 million jointly announced on 22 October 2008 by the Minister for Education and the Federal Member for Lingiari for up to 10 additional teacher houses in the Wadeye community. These housing initiatives will help attract and retain teachers and assist in meeting the Government's commitment to provide an additional 200 teachers, over four years from the 2008 school year, in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — family support package

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 5.5 5.7 5.9 -
Department of the Treasury - 5.1 5.3 5.5 -
Total - 10.5 10.9 11.4 -

The Government will provide $32.9 million over three years to continue family support services in the Northern Territory. The funding will provide continued support to the mobile child protection team and Indigenous family and community workers in remote areas and for the continued operation of established safe houses.

The family support package is directed to ensuring that families, particularly children, who are at risk of violence or abuse, can access safe, secure and supportive services.

This funding includes $15.8 million over three years which will be paid to the Northern Territory Government. Under the new framework for federal financial relations, commencing 1 January 2009, payments to the States, with a few exceptions, will be made by the Australian Treasury to state treasuries.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — field operations

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 25.1 25.3 25.6 -
Department of the Treasury - 0.9 2.9 4.3 -
Total - 26.0 28.2 29.9 -
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 2.4 2.3 2.3 -

The Government will provide $84.1 million over three years (including capital funding of $7.0 million) to continue field operations in Northern Territory communities. This measure includes funding for the continued presence of Government Business Managers and interpreter services in Indigenous communities to facilitate the effective delivery of government services. The measure will also establish a Regional Operations Centre to coordinate services provided by local agencies to Indigenous communities.

This funding includes $8.1 million over three years which will be paid to the Northern Territory Government. Under the new framework for federal financial relations, commencing 1 January 2009, payments to the States and Territories, with a few exceptions, will be made by the Australian Treasury to state treasuries.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — income management — additional funding

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Centrelink - 88.3 0.9 0.6 0.6
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 7.7 - - -
Department of Human Services - 7.5 - - -
Department of Finance and Deregulation - 0.4 0.1 - -
Total - 103.8 0.9 0.6 0.6

The Government will provide $105.9 million to continue income management in the Northern Territory and to provide financial management services to income support recipients.

This measure includes funding in 2009‑10 for Centrelink to administer income management and for the Department of Human Services to provide income management cards (the BasicsCard) to income support recipients. It also includes funding for the Department of Human Services and Centrelink to undertake a tender process for a BasicsCard provider, and to cover costs associated with the transition to the new contract in mid‑2010. A small amount of funding is provided thereafter for the ongoing maintenance of related Centrelink IT systems.

Under this measure, 50 per cent of income support and family assistance payments are income managed for the purchase of items such as food and clothing. This ensures that these payments are spent on items that contribute to a safe and healthy environment for families and children, while limiting funds for items that can fuel anti‑social behaviours.

The Government has committed to ensuring the income management model is consistent with the Racial Discrimination Act 1975(RDA). Prior to making a decision on an RDA‑compliant income management model which would be implemented from July 2010, consultations will be held with affected Northern Territory communities.

This measure also provides funding for financial management services to help individuals and families manage their income effectively and for the Department of Finance and Deregulation to undertake a Gateway Review of the BasicsCard procurement and transition.

See also the related expense measure titled Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — income management in the February 2009 Updated Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — Indigenous health and related services

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of the Treasury - 8.0 5.0 5.0 -
Department of Health and Ageing - 6.5 52.5 54.1 -
Total - 14.5 57.5 59.1 -

The Government will provide $131.1 million over three years for additional Indigenous health and related services in the Northern Territory. This funding includes $99.3 million for the continuation of expanded primary health care services in remote locations, and regional support and coordination, including regionally‑based primary health and specialist services. This component of the funding also provides for the Remote Area Health Corps, which will assist in the recruitment and placement of medical professionals to deliver health services as part of this measure.

The remaining funding allocation will allow follow‑up services arising from the child health checks to continue to be delivered, including $15.7 million for dental, hearing and ear, nose and throat specialist services, $11.0 million for the continuation of the sexual assault mobile outreach services and associated health workforce training, and $5.1 million for substance use rehabilitation and treatment services.

This funding includes $18.0 million which will be paid to the Northern Territory Government to assist in the delivery of these services. Under the framework for federal financial relations commencing 1 January 2009, payments to the States and Territories, with a few exceptions, will be made by the Australian Treasury to state treasuries.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — language, literacy and numeracy training for Indigenous job seekers

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 1.0 1.0 1.0 -

The Government will provide $3.0 million over three years for language, literacy and numeracy training projects in nine Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. These innovative community‑based projects will provide over 160 training places aimed at enhancing the ongoing employment prospects of Indigenous job seekers.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — law and order

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Attorney-General's Department - 26.5 26.7 27.0 -

The Government will provide $80.2 million over three years for the continued operation of 81 night patrol services in the Northern Territory.

This measure also includes funding to increase the number of legal assistance service providers, continue the operation of the Northern Territory Welfare Rights Project, and enable the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service to meet demands resulting from the Northern Territory Emergency Response.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — Local Priorities Fund

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 10.0 - - -

The Government will provide $10.0 million in 2009‑10 for a Local Priorities Fund to meet local needs such as minor infrastructure enhancements and community facilities which cannot be funded through other established programs. The fund will enable Government Business Managers to respond rapidly to needs identified in Indigenous communities.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — playgroups

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 0.3 1.2 1.2 -

The Government will provide $2.8 million over three years to continue to support playgroups in the Northern Territory. The playgroups provide Indigenous children with structured learning through culturally appropriate activities in a safe environment for children and their carers. This is expected to strengthen early childhood development and the parenting skills of Indigenous families participating in the playgroups.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — policing

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of the Treasury - 31.4 49.4 47.8 -
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 7.9 9.3 10.7 -
Total - 39.3 58.7 58.5 -

The Government will provide $156.6 million over three years to continue a range of law and order activities to provide greater safety and security to people in Northern Territory Indigenous communities.

This measure includes funding for:

  • 60 Northern Territory police officers to replace Australian Federal Police officers deployed as part of the initial Northern Territory Emergency Response;
  • five permanent and ten temporary police stations; and
  • activities supporting restrictions on alcohol and pornography.

This measure will help ensure the protection of women and children, reduce alcohol‑fuelled violence and promote personal responsibility.

This funding includes $128.6 million over three years which will be paid to the Northern Territory Government. Under the new framework for federal financial relations, commencing 1 January 2009, payments to the States, with a few exceptions, will be made by the Australian Treasury to state treasuries.

See also the related expense measure titled Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — remote policing in the February 2009 Updated Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

Closing the Gap — Northern Territory — youth diversion

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 9.3 9.5 9.7 -

The Government will provide $28.4 million over three years for youth diversionary services in the Northern Territory. This will offer a range of safe and healthy activities for Indigenous youth in the Northern Territory as an alternative to drinking and other forms of substance abuse. The funding will provide for the continuation of the Northern Territory Youth Development Network, which provides community‑supported youth activities and builds the capacity of the youth and recreation sectors in the Northern Territory. The measure also includes funding to establish a Community Responsive Youth Support and Recreational Fund for infrastructure and youth services to reduce problem behaviours.

Closing the Gap — quality assurance for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services pathology program — enhancement

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Health and Ageing - 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.1

The Government will provide $3.8 million over four years to extend and expand the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services pathology program beyond its current expiry date of 31 July 2009. The program improves the management of diabetes by providing Indigenous communities with access to immediate on‑site blood testing at participating medical services sites. The funding also allows for a projected increase in the number of medical services sites participating in the program.

Closing the Gap — Reconciliation Australia — continuation

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - - 3.6 3.6 3.6

The Government will provide $10.8 million over three years from 2010‑11 to support the operation of Reconciliation Australia. Reconciliation Australia is an independent not‑for‑profit organisation, which works in partnership with corporations, governments and community groups to educate, involve and encourage the community to take responsibility for reconciliation between Indigenous and non‑Indigenous Australians. One of its key initiatives is the Reconciliation Action Plan program, through which Reconciliation Australia works with organisations to identify specific actions that encourage reconciliation, such as employing more Indigenous people and improving cultural awareness.

Closing the Gap — Sporting Chance Program

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 1.0 2.1 3.3 3.6 -

The Government will provide $10.0 million over four years (including $1.0 million in 2008‑09) to expand the Sporting Chance Program. The Sporting Chance Program uses sport to encourage Indigenous students to maintain engagement with school education.

Funding of $5.0 million over four years will be provided to enlist Former Origin Greats (FOGs) to establish school‑based sports academies with a rugby league focus in Queensland and New South Wales.

Further funding of $5.0 million over four years will also be provided to establish around 10 school‑based sports academies with the focus on involving girls in sport.

This funding is in addition to $10.0 million announced by the Prime Minister on 9 December 2008 to support 15 existing and new Clontarf school‑based sports academies, mostly in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Closing the Gap — strengthening Australia's Indigenous visual arts industry — additional funding

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts - 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5

The Government will redirect funding from the Commonwealth Environment Research Facilities program to provide $9.9 million over four years to further support the Indigenous visual arts industry.

This funding will allow for expanded support for art centre operations — ensuring appropriate staffing, training and remuneration of art centre employees. It will also provide for $0.6 million over three years to support the implementation and monitoring of a voluntary Indigenous Art Commercial Code of Conduct.

This measure delivers on elements of the Government's response to the Senate Inquiry into the Indigenous visual arts sector, Indigenous Art — Securing the future, tabled on 8 August 2008 by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts.

Closing the Gap — Torres Strait Major Infrastructure Program

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Torres Strait Regional Authority - 14.2 14.5 0.2 -

The Government will provide $29.0 million over three years to provide environmental health infrastructure in the Torres Strait Islands under stage four of the Torres Strait Major Infrastructure Program. This infrastructure will include water treatment, reticulated sewerage and drainage projects, which will improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people living in the Torres Strait Islands. The Australian Government's contribution will be matched by the Queensland Government.

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card — income test

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Health and Ageing - 14.9 16.5 19.6 20.9
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 9.6 11.4 13.3 14.2
Department of Veterans' Affairs - 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Total - 24.6 28.0 33.1 35.2

The Government will not proceed with an element of the measure Responsible Economic Management — Commonwealth Seniors Health Card — adjusted taxable income test announced in the 2008‑09 Budget to change the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income test to include gross tax‑free superannuation pension income in the adjusted taxable income test. This will increase costs associated with the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card by around $120.9 million over the forward estimates.

The Government will proceed with the other element of the measure — to include income that is salary sacrificed to superannuation in the income assessment, with effect from 1 July 2009. This change will be consistent with changes that have been legislated in respect of a range of other pension and allowance income tests, and arrangements that have existed for Age Pension for some time.

Coordinator General for remote Indigenous services

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 2.2 2.2 2.3 2.3

The Government will provide $9.0 million over four years to establish the position of Coordinator General for remote Indigenous services.

The Coordinator General will drive implementation of substantial government investment, particularly in housing, infrastructure and employment, in targeted remote Indigenous locations. The Coordinator General will do this by advising on, reviewing, monitoring and overseeing delivery against agreed local plans and commitments, initially in the Council of Australian Government (COAG) Remote Service Delivery National Partnership locations.

The position will be established as a Statutory Office, reporting directly to the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The Coordinator General will have the power to report on Commonwealth, state or territory agencies which do not comply with requests to provide information.

Further information can be found in the joint press release of 26 February 2009 issued by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Disability Parking Scheme — a national approach

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 2.0 0.6 0.4 -

The Government will provide $3.0 million over three years to harmonise accessible parking schemes across Australia for people with a disability.

The measure includes funding for the production and distribution of a national permit; development of consistent national eligibility criteria and entitlements, and implementation of a national communications strategy, including a national website. State and Territory governments will administer the new arrangements, which are expected to be in place by June 2012.

Harmonising disability parking schemes will solve a range of problems for people with a disability, including not being eligible for disability parking in other States.

Disability Support Pension — better and fairer assessments

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Centrelink 0.1 11.4 14.4 15.0 17.5
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 1.8 -36.9 -114.5 -190.9
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 0.7 41.6 94.7 138.0
Department of Human Services - - - - -
Total 0.1 13.9 19.1 -4.8 -35.4

The Government will improve the assessment process for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) to provide faster and fairer assessment for people applying for the DSP. It will also provide increased assistance to new entrants to the DSP, with enhanced information and support services to assist people to re‑engage in some work in cases where the person has the capacity to do so. New arrangements will be put in place to assist people with a disability to participate in the workforce, including the piloting of work force re‑engagement contacts for new DSP recipients. This measure is expected to result in savings of $7.2 million over four years.

A more differentiated assessment process will be introduced, involving an improved triage system, which will enable those who are clearly eligible for DSP to be fast‑tracked and those clearly not eligible to be directed into more appropriate support programs. New arrangements will also be put in place to ensure that assessors have access to clients' medical and employment history in order to ensure a fair assessment.

In addition, the tables for the assessment of work‑related impairment for DSP will be updated from 1 January 2012, to ensure they are consistent with contemporary medical and rehabilitation practices. This will be done in consultation with the disability sector and relevant medical bodies.

Drought assistance — extension of the Family Support Drought Response Teams program

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 7.6 - - -

The Government will provide $7.6 million in 2009‑10 to continue social and emotional counselling services to support families in drought‑affected local communities. Support will be provided by 25 Family Support Drought Response Teams, as part of the Family Relationship Services Program.

Emergency Relief — assistance related to the Victorian bushfires and Queensland floods

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs 5.0 - - - -

The Government provided an additional $5.0 million in 2008‑09 to the Emergency Relief program to assist churches and other non‑government organisations to provide emergency relief in the form of food and other essential supplies to those affected by the Victorian bushfires and Queensland floods.

Emergency Relief — innovative projects to help build the financial capacity of people on low incomes

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 25.0 25.0 - -

The Government will provide an additional $50.0 million over two years for the Emergency Relief program to help build the longer term financial capacity of people on low incomes, including the unemployed.

The measure provides funding to assist church, community and charitable organisations to support people on low incomes through a range of financial management initiatives, including financial counselling, no‑interest loans, matched savings and support to develop financial literacy and education programs.

The new funding will help vulnerable individuals and families, including those affected by the economic downturn, to build or rebuild their assets and improve their money management skills.

This measure builds on the previously announced measure Emergency Relief Program — additional funding which was noted in the February 2009 Updated Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

This measure was agreed with the Australian Greens as part of negotiating the Nation Building and Jobs Plan announced on 3 February 2009.

Family Relationships Services Program — transfer of responsibilities to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 2.7 2.8 2.9 2.9
Attorney-General's Department - -4.8 -4.9 -5.0 -5.0
Total - -2.1 -2.1 -2.1 -2.1

The Government will improve administration of the Family Relationships Services Program by transferring funding for the Family Relationship Advice Line (with the exception of the legal advice component) and the Family Relationships Online programs from the Attorney‑General's Department to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. By consolidating these services in the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, rather than having responsibility shared across the two departments, services can be delivered more efficiently.

The measure will result in savings of $8.4 million over four years. The Attorney‑General's Department will retain responsibility for the family law system and family dispute resolution.

Improving School Enrolment and Attendance Trial — continuation

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Centrelink - 3.1 - - -
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 0.7 - - -
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - - - - -
Total - 3.8 - - -

The Government will provide $3.8 million in 2009‑10 to continue the School Enrolment and Attendance trial announced in the 2008‑09 Budget. Trials have commenced in six communities in the Northern Territory: Hermannsburg, Katherine, Katherine Town Camp, Wallace Rock Hole, Wadeye and Tiwi Islands and will be established in two additional metropolitan locations outside the Northern Territory.

Under the trial, parents receiving Australian Government income support payments with children of compulsory school age are required to provide details of their child's school enrolment to Centrelink. Where they fail to do so, they can have their payments temporarily suspended.

Parents are also required to take reasonable steps to ensure their children regularly attend school. Where children are not regularly attending school, and parents cannot then demonstrate they are taking steps to ensure their children attend school, they may have their income support payments temporarily suspended. Reinstatement of payments will occur if parents meet the requirements within a 13 week period. After the 13 week suspension period, Centrelink has the discretion to cancel a parent's income support payment if investigations indicate this is warranted. Other benefits, such as the Family Tax Benefit, will remain available to parents during any period of suspension.

Income management in cases of child neglect and by voluntary choice — continuation of trial

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Centrelink 0.5 8.2 - - -
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 3.0 - - -
Department of Human Services - 0.1 - - -
Total 0.5 11.4 - - -
Centrelink - 1.4 - - -

The Government will provide an additional $13.2 million over two years (including capital funding of $1.4 million) to continue income management in cases of child neglect and where chosen voluntarily. The trial, first announced in the 2008‑09 Budget, commenced in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and the Cannington District of Perth.

In this trial, income management arrangements direct up to 70 per cent of income support and family payments to meet essential household and family expenses. This helps to ensure that parents are taking care of their children and meeting the children's essential needs.

This measure will also provide funding of $2.5 million for associated financial management support services to aid individuals and families participating in income management to appropriately spend their income, develop self‑reliance and exit income management.

Maternity Immunisation Allowance — alignment of indexation with other family payments

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Centrelink .. 0.2 - - -
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - -0.5 -0.5 -0.9 -0.9
Total 0.0 -0.3 -0.5 -0.9 -0.9

The Government will change the timing of the indexation of Maternity Immunisation Allowance from twice a year to once a year, the other major family assistance payment indexation arrangements. The first annual indexation will occur on 1 July 2010.

Maternity Immunisation Allowance consists of two non‑means tested payments of around $123 each, with the first at 18 to 24 months of age and the second at four to five years of age once certain immunisations have been completed.

National Companion Card — implementation

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 0.8 0.6 0.5 -

The Government will provide $1.8 million over three years to establish a National Companion Card Scheme. This will extend the reciprocal Companion Card Scheme currently operating in some States to a national reciprocal scheme covering all eligible Australians.

The scheme enables Companion Card holders to participate in affiliated activities and visit venues and events without incurring the cost of a second ticket for their companion/carer. This measure will ensure that Companion Card holders and their companion/carer will be able to take part in the scheme, regardless of which State or Territory they live in or are visiting.

The Government will facilitate the establishment of the National Companion Card Scheme through consultation with key stakeholders; developing national program guidelines and an intergovernmental agreement; expanding the number of participating firms through a national affiliate strategy; and developing a national website. The States and Territories will administer the scheme.

The scheme will be fully implemented by 30 June 2012.

National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children — Communities for Children Plus Program — establishment

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 1.7 3.1 3.1 2.1

The Government will provide $10.0 million over four years to establish up to eight innovative service delivery sites across Australia to reduce child abuse and neglect in disadvantaged communities. Building on the Communities for Children initiative, the Communities for Children Plus program will provide intensive early intervention services to an additional 1,200 children and families in their local community.

The program will bring Australian, State and Territory government services together to address the risk factors for child abuse and neglect before they escalate.

The measure is part of the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children agreed at Council of Australian Governments on 30 April 2009. Further information can be found in the press release of 30 April 2009, issued by the Prime Minister.

National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children — National Leadership Projects

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 2.3 2.3 2.7 2.8

The Government will provide $10.0 million over four years for four national leadership projects to improve the effectiveness of Australia's child protection systems, including:

  • developing a National Research Agenda for child protection to improve the evidence base underpinning policy;
  • improving information‑sharing about families and children at risk and improving data consistency to support and contribute to the evidence base;
  • supporting workforce development projects to improve the responsiveness of services for at risk children and victims of abuse and neglect through improved professional training and establishing a common approach to assessment and referral of children; and
  • developing National Standards for Out‑of‑Home Care to enhance national consistency and improve outcomes for children and young people unable to live with their birth families due to neglect or abuse.

The measure is part of the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children agreed at Council of Australian Governments on 30 April 2009. Further information can be found in the press release of 30 April 2009, issued by the Prime Minister.

National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children — Special Child Care Benefit — increasing awareness and access

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 9.1 9.0 9.2 9.4
Centrelink 0.1 0.5 0.2 0.2 0.2
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - - - - -
Total 0.1 9.5 9.2 9.4 9.6

The Government will provide $3.0 million over five years for the development and delivery of a communication strategy to increase awareness of the availability and application process for the Special Child Care Benefit. The measure is expected to result in increased expenditure on Special Child Care Benefit of $34.8 million over four years due to the expected increase in the take‑up of existing entitlements, bringing the total cost of the measure to $37.8 million over five years.

Under the measure the Government will also clarify the definition of 'at risk' in the Special Child Care Benefit Guidelines. This will help child care services and community, family and children's services understand the circumstances in which a child is eligible for Special Child Care Benefit.

Special Child Care Benefit covers up to the full fee charged to a family for child care costs for a limited period where a child is assessed as being at risk of abuse or neglect or where the family is in temporary financial hardship.

The measure is part of the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children agreed by COAG on 30 April 2009. Further information can be found in the Prime Minister's Press release of 30 April 2009.

National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children — Transition to Independent Living Allowance — increase

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.4
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - - - - -
Total - 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.4

From 1 July 2009, the Government will increase the Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) for young people leaving care from $1,000 to $1,500 at a cost of $5.3 million over four years.

The TILA provides one‑off financial support for young people leaving formal state‑based care or informal care, such as out‑of‑home care and Indigenous kinship care arrangements. The TILA assists with the costs associated with moving from care to independent living such as moving, furniture, education and transport costs.

This measure is part of the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children agreed at COAG on 30 April 2009. Further information can be found in the Prime Minister's press release of 30 April 2009.

National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children — implementation

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - - - - -

The Government will redirect funding of $55.2 million over four years from the Women's Safety Agenda program to implement a number of new initiatives which will progress the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

The measures include: national online and telephone crisis support, counselling and referral services; a trial of Respectful Relationships programs in schools; a social change marketing campaign; research to be conducted by the National Centre of Excellence for the Prevention of Violence against Women; and continuation of the National Advisory Council on Violence against Women.

In addition, the Government will work with the States and Territories through the Council of Australian Governments to jointly agree a National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children by early 2010.

Paid Parental Leave

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Centrelink 0.5 5.7 21.8 18.1 17.3
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 4.8 237.5 465.4 478.1
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 0.5 0.3 0.2 0.2
Department of Finance and Deregulation - 0.3 0.2 - -
Medicare Australia - .. 0.4 0.4 0.3
Total 0.5 11.3 260.1 484.0 495.9
Australian Taxation Office - - 74.3 224.3 229.3
Centrelink - 2.3 4.6 - -

The Government will introduce a Paid Parental Leave scheme from 1 January 2011 at an estimated cost of $730.7 million over five years. The scheme will help parents spend time with newborns, improving outcomes for parents and their child. It will also promote continued participation and contact with the workforce.

The government funded scheme will provide eligible parents with up to 18 weeks of leave at the Federal Minimum Wage, currently $543.78 per week. These payments will be treated as taxable income and will affect entitlement to family assistance payments, but will not be counted as income for income support payments. People who elect not to receive Paid Parental Leave or who do not qualify will continue to receive the Baby Bonus and other family payments, where they meet eligibility requirements.

Primary carers will be eligible for the scheme if they:

  • earned less than $150,000 in the full financial year prior to the birth or adoption of a child;
  • have worked at least 330 hours over the 10 months preceding the birth or adoption of a child; and
  • have also worked continuously with one or more employers for at least 10 of the 13 months before the expected date of birth or adoption.

In some cases Paid Parental Leave will be able to be transferred to another caregiver if the primary carer returns to work before they have received their full Paid Parental Leave entitlement.

Parents who choose to receive Paid Parental Leave will not receive the Baby Bonus, except in cases of multiple births where parents will not receive the Baby Bonus for the first child only. Parents who choose to receive Paid Parental Leave will also not be eligible for the Family Tax Benefit Part B and the dependent spouse, child‑housekeeper and housekeeper tax offsets for the 18 week period or whilst they are in receipt of Paid Parental Leave.

The paid paternity leave component will be considered as part of the comprehensive review of the scheme which will take place in 2013.

Consideration of superannuation payments while on statutory Paid Parental Leave will also be deferred until the review. The Australian Taxation Office has advised the Government that it considers that salary paid while on parental leave and other ancillary leave payments are ordinary time earnings for superannuation guarantee purposes. The Government will clarify that superannuation guarantee contributions will not apply to voluntary paid parental leave payments, and the Government will review this position when it reviews the treatment of superannuation under the paid parental leave scheme. The Government will also defer the application of superannuation guarantee contributions for ancillary leave payments until this review is completed in 2013.

Queensland floods — assistance

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs 48.0 3.7 - - -
Centrelink 3.8 - - - -
Total 51.8 3.7 - - -

The Government is providing $55.5 million over two years to assist people adversely affected by the floods in north Queensland which began in January 2009.

On 29 January 2009, Tropical Cyclone Ellie caused a rain depression in the Far North/Northern regions and Gulf region of North Western Queensland which resulted in flooding in townships between Townsville and Cairns.

Payments of $1,000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child were made available to people who, as a direct result of the flooding, were adversely affected. This includes people who were seriously injured, and people whose principal place of residence sustained major damage, was destroyed or was inaccessible for a period of more than 48 hours.

The Government also made available ex‑gratia payments of $5,000 for funeral costs to support the immediate family of people who lost their lives as a direct result of the flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Ellie. An ex‑gratia income recovery subsidy of up to the maximum rate of Newstart Allowance was also made available for a period of 13 weeks to employees, small business persons or farmers who lost their income as a direct result of the flooding.

On 12 January 2009, Ex‑Tropical Cyclone Charlotte exacerbated the monsoonal flooding in the Gulf region of North Western Queensland, isolating communities for an extended period. An ex‑gratia income recovery subsidy of up to the maximum rate of Newstart Allowance was made available for a period of 13 weeks to employees, small business persons or farmers who lost their income as a direct result of the flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Charlotte in the North Western Queensland regions.

Reform of family payments — Family Tax Benefit Part A (FTB‑A) — removing the link to pension indexation

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - -43.1 -189.5 -292.0 -498.7

From 1 July 2009, Family Tax Benefit Part A (FTB‑A) payment rates will be indexed by the Consumer Price Index consistent with other family payments such as Family Tax Benefit Part B and the Baby Bonus. This will replace the current arrangement whereby maximum rates of FTB‑A for children under the age of 16 are benchmarked to a proportion of the combined couple rate of pension payments, or adjusted by the Consumer Price Index, whichever is higher.

This is expected to result in reduced outlays of $1.0 billion over four years compared to current indexation arrangements.

This measure will help reduce the long‑term cost to the budget of a substantial and growing expenditure, contributing to the return of the budget to surplus and the reduction of net debt.

Reform of family payments — pause to indexation of upper income thresholds of FTB‑A, FTB‑B and Baby Bonus

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of the Treasury - - - - -
Department of Health and Ageing - -2.9 -8.2 -12.6 -15.0
Centrelink 0.6 -3.8 -3.5 -6.6 -6.9
Australian Taxation Office - -33.0 -43.0 -66.0 -68.0
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - -169.9 -236.3 -346.9 -364.6
Total 0.6 -209.6 -291.0 -432.1 -454.5
Australian Taxation Office - - 1.0 3.0 5.0

The Government will reform family payments through maintaining the higher income thresholds for family payments at their current level until July 2012.

The following higher income thresholds will remain fixed until July 2012: the Family Tax Benefit Part B primary earner income threshold, which will remain at $150,000; the income threshold for receiving the dependency tax offsets, which will remain at $150,000; the Baby Bonus eligibility threshold, which will remain at $75,000 of family income in the six months following the birth or adoption of a child (equivalent to $150,000 a year); and the higher income‑free area of Family Tax Benefit Part A, which will remain at $94,316 of family income (plus $3,796 for each child after the first). These thresholds would ordinarily be indexed by the Consumer Price Index.

The measure reforms family payments by better targeting family assistance to those families most in need of help with the cost of raising their children and is expected to result in savings of $1.4 billion over four years.

Secure and sustainable pensions — close the Pension Bonus Scheme

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 5.1 3.3 -14.5 -49.8
Centrelink 0.2 1.1 0.9 -0.2 ..
Department of Veterans' Affairs 0.1 0.8 0.7 -1.2 -5.1
Department of Health and Ageing - 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4
Medicare Australia - .. .. .. ..
Total 0.3 7.1 5.1 -15.6 -54.5

The Government will close the Pension Bonus Scheme to new entrants from 20 September 2009. Existing members of the scheme will continue to accrue entitlements under existing rules.

The Government is closing the scheme to new entrants as evaluation data has indicated that the vast majority of participants would have continued in the workforce in the absence of the scheme.

The measure will result in a net saving of $57.6 million over five years (including a cost of $0.3 million in 2008‑09).

The Government will continue to encourage workforce participation among older Australians by establishing a new pension income test concession for employment income. Under the new Work Bonus, 50 per cent of the first $500 per fortnight of employment income will not count for income test purposes.

See also the related expense measure titled Secure and Sustainable Pensions — tighten the income test taper and provide incentive for workforce participation in the Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs portfolio.

Secure and sustainable pensions — increase in the Age Pension age

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Centrelink .. 0.8 0.1 0.4 0.1
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - - - - -
Total 0.0 0.8 0.1 0.4 0.1

The Government will increase the qualifying age for the Age Pension and the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card for men and women to 67 years of age from 2023. The transition to the higher Age Pension age will commence in July 2017, with the qualifying age increasing by six months every two years, to reach 67 on 1 July 2023. This timeline dovetails with the current process for increasing the female Age Pension age, which is being increased from 63.5 today to 65 years of age by July 2013. The current Age Pension age for men is 65.

The Intergenerational Report projected that the percentage of people aged over 65 will increase from 13 per cent to 25 per cent by 2047, reflecting changing demographics and increases in life expectancy. When the Age Pension was introduced in 1909, a male retiring at age 65 would have expected to spend 11 years in retirement. At that time, around half of the male population reached retirement age. Today, over 85 per cent of the male population reaches retirement age and can expect to spend over 19 years in retirement.

This measure will help reduce the long‑term cost to the budget of a substantial and growing expenditure, contributing to the return of the budget to surplus and the reduction of net debt.

Secure and sustainable pensions — increase to pension payments

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 2,427.2 3,294.6 3,483.9 3,709.2
Department of Veterans' Affairs 0.7 259.9 316.1 309.1 301.5
Centrelink 3.8 22.9 7.9 6.1 6.2
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - 13.1 10.5 9.4 7.1
Department of Health and Ageing - 0.2 0.7 0.7 0.8
Medicare Australia - .. .. .. ..
Total 4.5 2,723.4 3,629.8 3,809.2 4,024.8
Australian Taxation Office - 11.0 15.0 22.0 32.0
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - - - - -
Total - 11.0 15.0 22.0 32.0
Department of Veterans' Affairs .. 1.7 - - -

The Government will provide $14.2 billion over five years (including $4.5 million in 2008‑09 for administration changes) to improve the financial security of pensioners. The new pension package (comprising the base pension and the Pension Supplement) will deliver the following increases:

  • a $32.49 per week increase for single pensioners on the full rate of pension; and
  • a $10.14 per week (combined) increase for couple pensioners on the full rate of pension.

These increases will be provided in two forms, through an increase in the base rate of pension for singles; and through an increase in a new Pension Supplement for both singles and couples.

The Government will provide a $30 per week increase in the single basic pension rate.

For the new Pension Supplement, the Government will provide:

  • a $2.49 per week increase for singles; and
  • a $10.14 per week combined increase for couples.

These increases bring the amount paid to singles to two‑thirds (66.3 per cent) of that received by couples combined. This new ratio applies across both the base pension and new Pension Supplement.

The current benchmark of the single base pension to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings will be lifted by more than 10 per cent, from 25 per cent to 27.7 per cent. This new benchmark will be enshrined in legislation.

The measure will also make pension payment arrangements simpler and easier to understand for pensioners. From 20 September 2009, the Goods and Services Tax pension supplement, Pharmaceutical Allowance, Utilities Allowance and Telephone Allowance will be consolidated, together with the increases noted above, into the new Pension Supplement.

The Pension Supplement will be paid fortnightly, in conjunction with the base pension. From 1 July 2010 pensioners will have greater choice under the new arrangements in how frequently they receive the pension supplement. Around half of the Supplement will become available on a quarterly basis.

These increases in assistance will apply to recipients of the Age Pension, Service Pension, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment, Bereavement Allowance, Widow B Pension, Wife Pension, Income Support Supplement and to War Widow/ers, and will take effect on 20 September 2009. The new Pension Supplement will also be provided to Widow Allowees, Partner Allowees and other income support recipients over age pension age.

The measure will also introduce new flexible advanced payment arrangements for pensioners to help them meet unexpected expenses. Under new arrangements, pensioners will be able to seek more than one advance per annum, with the maximum amounts increased to three times the maximum weekly basic pension (more than $700 for each member of a pensioner couple and more than $900 for a single pensioner) or 7.5 per cent of the annual pension entitlement, which ever is the lower. Advances will be repaid over six months by direct deductions from pension payments.

A new Seniors Supplement will be established for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders and veterans eligible for the Gold Card. The Seniors Concession Allowance and the Telephone Allowance will be consolidated into the new Seniors Supplement. The single rate of the Seniors Supplement will include an extra $129 a year, to bring it to two thirds of the rate paid to couples combined.

Existing Pensioner Tax Offset and Senior Australian Tax Offset arrangements will continue to ensure that maximum rate pensioners do not pay tax. Some part‑rate pensioners on higher incomes, including some who already pay tax, will pay tax on the pension increase.

Secure and sustainable pensions — new carer supplement

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Centrelink 2.0 7.2 2.6 2.6 2.6
Department of Veterans' Affairs 9.6 0.3 9.0 8.3 7.6
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs 373.1 0.1 434.2 458.4 482.5
Total 384.8 7.6 445.8 469.3 492.7
Department of Veterans' Affairs .. 0.7 - - -

The Government will provide $1.8 billion over five years (including $384.8 million in 2008‑09) to improve assistance to carers through the introduction of a new carer supplement, in recognition of the contribution carers make in caring for people with disabilities and the frail aged. The new supplement will be ongoing and non‑taxable. The first payment will be made by 30 June 2009 with subsequent payments starting from 1 July 2010.

The new supplement will provide:

  • $600 per annum to all Carer Allowance recipients for each person being cared for; and
  • $600 per annum to all Carer Payment recipients.

People who receive both Carer Payment and Carer Allowance will be eligible for both payments.

The existing Child Disability Assistance Payment of $1,000 per annum for carers who are paid Carer Allowance (child) will continue.

Secure and sustainable pensions — social security agreements with Latvia, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 0.3 -0.1 -0.7 -0.8
Centrelink - 0.3 5.0 0.4 0.4
Total - 0.6 4.9 -0.3 -0.4
Australian Taxation Office - - .. .. ..

The Government will provide $4.9 million over four years to extend the current network of reciprocal social security agreements to include Latvia, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

These agreements are expected to commence on 1 January 2011 and will improve access to the Age Pension for people who live for a time in both Australia and the nations who are party to the agreements. Australia and these nations will share responsibility for the pension, each paying a proportion of their pension based on relevant eligibility criteria and the period of residence or insurance that recipients have accrued in each country.

These agreements also deal with 'double coverage' of superannuation by removing the obligation for an employer to make compulsory superannuation or social security contributions in two jurisdictions in respect of the same work done by the same employee sent to work in the other jurisdiction. The employer's superannuation (or social security) obligation will instead remain in the employee's home country.

Secure and sustainable pensions — tighten the income test taper

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Centrelink 0.2 11.6 6.9 5.4 3.1
Medicare Australia - .. .. .. ..
Department of Health and Ageing - -0.2 -0.5 -0.6 -0.6
Department of Veterans' Affairs 0.1 -12.4 -25.6 -30.5 -36.3
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs(a) - -133.2 -265.5 -338.4 -417.7
Total 0.3 -134.1 -284.7 -364.1 -451.5
Department of Veterans' Affairs 0.1 1.2 - - -
  1. A minus sign before an estimate indicates a reduction in expenses, no sign before an estimate indicates increased expenses.

The Government will increase the income test taper from 40 to 50 cents in the dollar for a single pensioner and from 20 to 25 cents in the dollar for each member of a couple, for income above the relevant income free threshold. This threshold is currently $138 per fortnight for single pensioners and $240 per fortnight for pensioner couples (combined).

As part of this measure, the higher income test threshold for pensioners with children (currently $162.60) will be abolished to align the pension income test with the allowance and family payments income tests. This recognises that assistance with the care of children is provided directly through Family Tax Benefit and Child Care Benefit.

Existing part pensioners affected by the income test changes will keep existing entitlements, maintained in real terms, plus an increase of $10.14 per week for singles or couples combined.

These measures to tighten the income test will help ensure that pension payments are better directed to those with less private means.

To increase incentives to undertake paid employment, an income test concession for employment income will be introduced for people of Age Pension age and for veterans of Service Pension age. Employment income will be assessed fortnightly, with only half of the first $500 of fortnightly employment income to be counted in assessing their pension entitlement.

This measure will provide savings of $1.6 billion over five years (including $0.4 million in administrative costs in 2008‑09) and will commence on 20 September 2009.

This measure will help reduce the long‑term cost to the budget of a substantial and growing expenditure, contributing to the return of the budget to surplus and the reduction of net debt.

South‑East Queensland storms — assistance

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs 19.2 - - - -
Centrelink 2.1 - - - -
Total 21.3 - - - -

The Government provided $19.2 million in 2008‑09 under the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment program to assist people adversely affected by the storms in south‑east Queensland that began on 16 November 2008.

Payments of $1,000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child have been made available to people who, as a direct result of the storms, were seriously injured and required hospitalisation for at least 48 hours or whose principal place of residence was significantly damaged or destroyed.

This measure also includes funding for Centrelink of $2.1 million in 2008‑09.

Tuggeranong Office Park — accommodation

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 8.7 7.1 6.8 7.0
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs - 16.7 10.0 - -

The Government will provide $56.4 million over four years (including $26.8 million in capital funding) for the costs associated with the lease of the Tuggeranong Office Park by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Funding will be provided for building improvements, rent commitments, and building management and maintenance expenses.

The measure will provide for an upgrade of accommodation at Tuggeranong Office Park, which has not been refurbished since 1991, and will assist the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to meet its obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety and Disability Discrimination Acts.

Victorian bushfires — assistance

Expense ($m)
2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13
Centrelink 16.1 14.5 - - -
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs 75.2 10.6 - - -
Department of Human Services 3.7 1.0 - - -
Total 95.0 26.1 - - -

The Government will provide $85.8 million in payments over two years to assist people adversely affected by the bushfires in Victoria that began in late January 2009.

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payments of $1,000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child have been made available to people who were adversely affected. This includes people who were seriously injured or experienced psychological trauma; and people whose principal place of residence sustained major damage, was destroyed, was inaccessible for a period of more than 24 hours, or experienced a utility failure for a period of more than 48 hours.

An ex‑gratia income recovery subsidy of up to the maximum rate of Newstart Allowance was also made available for a period of 26 weeks to employees, small business persons or farmers who lost their income as a direct result of the bushfires.

The Government has also made available ex‑gratia payments of $5,000 for funeral costs to support the immediate family of people who lost their lives as a direct result of the bushfires.

This measure also includes $35.3 million over two years to enable Centrelink and the Department of Human Services to deliver payments and provide support services to affected individuals.

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