MEDIA RELEASE: The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) has welcomed a range of measures captured in the state budget, but stresses that much more is needed over the new government’s term.
“We are encouraged by the new government’s attention to areas such as housing and homelessness, health and mental health, and cost of living, among others. There are certainly notable positives in this state budget, that speak to real areas of need,” said SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley.
“We also recognize that the Government has a focus on delivering on its election promises. Our call now is for the government to take these positive budget measures and build on them.
“We know that a lot of South Australians continue to really struggle. The repercussions of COVID are still being felt. We have a genuine crisis around rental affordability and cost of living pressures mount by the day.
“We now urge the new Government to be bold and step up to invest in a more inclusive future for our state. With a four-year term just beginning, and with surpluses forecast across the forward estimates, now is an ideal time for a really big-picture view.
“These investments in what’s planned now are down-payments on the tomorrow that South Australians want for our state. We want to see a state that is strong, equitable, and future-focused. That means investing in the basics so that no-one is left behind.
“There is absolutely no doubt we need more action and long-term investments in public housing to help address rental affordability. Far too many people are struggling to find a home, let alone one they can afford. The Government has significant power to intervene here. By building further on its investment in public housing, the State Government would not only create much-needed homes, but ease pressure on the market to make rental housing more affordable across the board.
“It’s not just spending – it’s an investment in an asset to the community. And a stimulus for the economy and jobs.
“Attention to cost of living via concessions is also welcome, but we need to ensure renters get at least the same level of protection as homeowners. And there is more work to do in making concessions fairer overall. We look forward to working with the State Government on a full review of the concessions provided by Government.
“Another residual concern for SACOSS remains ensuring everyone gets access to the benefits of digital technologies. While we welcome the Government’s intention to extend the hours of service at Services SA outlets, which remain crucial connection points for people who might otherwise struggle with online services, this budget makes no mention of any initiatives likely to enhance digital inclusion. This was a lesson hard-learnt during COVID. We need to future-proof, and that means stepping up on digital access and connection across our community.”
“Again, the Government has made big commitments to improving hospital health services, but the next series of investments must be heavily focused on getting support to people that prevents illness and supports people to stay out of hospital.
“We look forward to talking more with the new State Government about how we can build a better future for all South Australians, taking the investments of today and stepping up towards the tomorrow all South Australians deserve,” Mr Womersley stated.
About the SACOSS State Budget Snapshot
The SACOSS State Budget Snapshot provides some brief highlights, summarising expenditure changes and new policy measures in areas of interest to vulnerable and disadvantaged South Australians, and to the non-government health and community services sector. We will also be producing a more detailed analysis, which will be available next week.