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Catholic Organisations respond to Government’s 2020-21 Budget

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Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia with Finance Minister Mathias Corman Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0 G20 Argentina

Catholic organisations and charities have welcomed the Federal Government’s 2020-21 budget with mixed sentiments. While some sectors have lauded the budget others have said that the allocation is not enough to the needs during COVID-19. 

Catholic Health Australia – Australia’s largest non-government grouping of health and aged care services- applauded the Government’s common to remote medical services in areas such as mental health and orthopaedics.

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“This is a timely announcement and one that will be well-received by patients, their carers and clinicians across Australia. It means more of the right care in the right place at the right time and that is a great outcome for patients,” said CHA Health Policy Director James Kemp

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CHA also welcomed the budget’s of $91.6 million to transition to a new funding model for residential aged care is welcome. 

older Australians deserve far better

However,  CHA said the model is not effective in addressing the immediate financial pressures facing many aged care facilities and that an interim solution is needed urgently.

“We shouldn’t be in this position and older Australians deserve far better from our political leaders.  It’s disappointing that once again the aged care sector has largely been forgotten in today’s budget,” said CEO of CHA Pat Garcia. 

CHA provides 25 percent of private hospital care, 5 percent of public hospital care, 12 percent of aged care facilities, and 20 percent of home care and support for the elderly.

Catholic Health Australia has long called for a new funding model for residential aged care, which reflects the range of care required and the life cycle of costs.”
Catholic Health Australia has long called for a new funding model for residential aged care, which reflects the range of care required and the life cycle of costs.”

World Vision Australia welcomed a funding boost of $304.7 million to Pacific nations via international aid as the region faces economic collapse during the pandemic.

Migrant workers crowd outside a bus station in Ghaziabad, India, on 20 March 2020, as they wait to board buses to return to their villages during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19. So much death and disruption has been spread by an invisible virus. Many have undoutedly asked where God’s concern for human beings is in such a moment. Photo: CNS, Anushree Fadnavis, Reuters

However, World Vision noted that the budget failed to direct funds to address the humanitarian catastrophe in the Asia-Pacific region such as in Bangladesh and Cambodia. World Vision urged the Government to go further given the global crisis at hand.

“The Government should be applauded for the promise of vaccine distribution in poorer Pacific nations,” Mr Strong said. 

a response above the ordinary

“But now is the time for Australia to step in and provide additional funding directly to prevent a humanitarian disaster. COVID-19 marks a new era in human tragedy – once again ‘a response above the ordinary’ is urgently needed.” 

Women in Cambodia Photo: Richard Wainwright/Caritas Australia

Catholic Social Services Australia criticised the priority of the budget in tax cuts as neglecting the vulnerable Australians who cannot pay tax to begin with – especially with rising unemployment due to the COVID-19 recession. 

“Billions of dollars in tax cuts will help some people, but those cuts won’t help those who can’t find work and who appear destined to return to unsustainably low welfare payments,”  said CSSA chief executive officer Ursula Stephens. 

Sleeping in the cold streets of the Sydney CBD on May 29, 2017. PHOTO: Peter Rosengren

“With hundreds of thousands of Australians struggling to find work or not able to access enough hours of work, they’ll be left to ponder how they will walk their individual path through the pandemic’s aftermath,” 

Dr Stephens cited Pope Francis’s lates encyclical Fratelli Tutti which calls for for political, economic and social decisions to be assessed based on how they support vulnerable people.

Pope FrancisPHOTO: CNS

Clair Victory, National President of the St Vincent de Paul Society, welcomed some initiatives in the budget towards farmers and better mental health.

‘We welcome some initiatives including the additional 23,000 aged care packages, the doubling of concessional psychology visits, the $2billion concessional loans to help farmers cope with the drought.”

A farmworker sits on a water tank as he supplies his livestock with water at a drought-stricken farm CNS/Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters

However, Ms Victory was concerned that the budget overlooked those unemployed and homeless as a ‘missed opportunity.”

“We should be looking to support the most vulnerable people, this Budget prioritises the business sector and the well-off.” 

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