Media Release: Historic expansion of support for vulnerable Australians

The Morrison Government is delivering an unprecedented boost to services supporting women, children and Australians who rely on our social security safety net, as part of our commitment to protect the most vulnerable Australians now and into the future.

Minister for Families and Social Services and Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said funding in the 2021‑22 Budget would keep Australians safe and secure by providing more than $10 billion for initiatives administered by the Department of Social Services.

“This Government is standing up for our most vulnerable Australians, whether they be women and children at risk of or experiencing violence, people who had lost their jobs during the pandemic or survivors of institutional child sexual abuse,” Minister Ruston said.

“We want all Australians to share equally in the opportunities our economic recovery is delivering and understand that means providing extra support to those within our communities who are faced with additional challenges and barriers.”

Measures in the 2021-22 Federal Budget include:

  • Providing a new Escaping Violence Payment to women leaving a violent relationship
  • Transitional funding to prevent, reduce and respond to domestic, family and sexual violence during the development of the new National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children
  • A permanent $50 per fortnight increase in the base rate of working age payments
  • Making lump sum payments available to pensioners and self-funded retirees under a more flexible Pension Loans Scheme
  • Responding to recommendations of the Second Anniversary Review of the National Redress Scheme

Protecting women and children

An unprecedented injection of about $1 billion will provide transitional support through a series of women’s safety initiatives while work is underway on the next National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children.

Among the initiatives is a new, two-year funding agreement where the Morrison Government will commit $260 million to partner with states and territories to boost local frontline services and trial new initiatives in the transition to the next National Plan to end violence against women and children.

Under the package, the Government will also commit $164.8 million to establish Escaping Violence Payments to provide women up to $1,500 in immediate cash and a further $3,500 in kind for goods or direct payments of bonds, school fees or other items. The payments will be provided under a two-year trial through a domestic violence frontline service and include wrap around support for women and their children.

Strengthening income support

This Budget commits more than $9 billion to help secure Australia’s recovery by delivering the largest ever measure for working age payments. The package includes securing a permanent $50 per fortnight increase in the base rates of working age payments, which commenced on 1 April 2021. It is the biggest year on year increase to the rate of unemployment benefits since 1986. Complementing this is an increased income free area for working age payment recipients, meaning they can keep more of what they earn through work.

In addition, the Government is ensuring that job seekers have the best opportunity to secure employment by allowing them to participate in an intensive activity after six months of unemployment such as a short course or Work for the Dole, providing enhanced relocation assistance and establishing an employer reporting line.

Supporting retired Australians

The Government is further enhancing the Pension Loans Scheme (PLS) with a package of reforms to increase its flexibility and make it more attractive to senior Australians. From 1 July 2022, retirees will be able to access advance payments of up to 50 per cent of the maximum rate of Age Pension each year – currently $12,385 for a single PLS loan recipient.  The Scheme will have a No Negative Equity Guarantee meaning a person will never owe more than the value of their secured property.

Welfare to work

A $30 million Job Ready Package will provide additional support to uplift and upskill Cashless Debit Card participants across four sites to help secure meaningful and long-term employment.

More than $12 million will be provided over two years from 2021-22 to support up to 10 projects through the Try, Test and Learn Fund that have demonstrated promise in supporting key groups of people at risk of long-term welfare dependence into work. This new funding will be in the form of one-off, time-limited grants.

Improving the National Redress Scheme

The Government is committed to continually improving the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. This year’s Budget provides a further investment in the Scheme, which will provide for initial and immediate action in response to the Review.

The Government’s 2021-22 Budget is securing Australia’s recovery by ensuring women, children and vulnerable Australians have better access to the support services they need.

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