SACOSS welcomes the continued deficit spending strategy in the 2021-22 State Budget to stimulate the economy, but maintains our concerns that much of the spending is not well-targeted to assist vulnerable and disadvantaged South Australians.
The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) State Budget Snapshot has been released this evening. The snapshot highlights a range of key areas: the good, the not so good, and some question marks.
SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley stressed that while the significant budget infrastructure spend represents an investment in assets for the state, there are also some missed opportunities.
"While we would have preferred a significant investment in new public housing over a $662 million extension to our Convention Centre, for example, the infrastructure spending announcements do present an important opportunity," stated Mr Womersley.
"SACOSS would like to see the Government make its infrastructure investments go further by leveraging them to create job opportunities for people who continue to be excluded from the labour market, such as people from regional and migrant communities, people living with a disability, women, and Aboriginal people. That would be smart spending," he stated.
"Funding in the Budget for mental health is welcome, and represents a positive start towards the work that is needed in this vital area. There are also some other positive, if modest, investments, such as funding for the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, and an elected Aboriginal Engagement Body to provide representation to government."
"Some red flags in the budget include where budget spending measures anticipate an increase in need in some areas of community concern, such as funding towards a new prison, and extra money for child protection. We would prefer to see a focus on prevention."
"Overall, our key message is that we would like to see more action over the coming months to target assistance and support to those most likely to be struggling, so that as we move towards a post-COVID recovery, people are not left behind."
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.