New South Wales heads to the polls on 23 March, deciding who will lead their State Government into May’s federal election. We’ve compiled an overview of the key political parties and their promises for young people, carers and mental illness and the issues most affecting them.
On the agenda for this election is cost of living, health and education and infrastructure including light rail and stadiums.
The current Labor stance on carers supports the Disability Support Pension and Carer Payments as essential parts of social safety nets for those who need it. They support enhanced recognition, employment opportunities and fair employment conditions, carer leave, and mental health support.
In regard to carer benefits, this election the NSW Labor party promises greater funding to health services, disability advocacy and school funding for teachers and career advisors. These include:
- Restoring Disability Advocacy Funding to organisations including Deaf Society of NSW, NSW Council for Intellectual Disability, Carers NSW and Vision Australia. Labor has promised permanent future funding in NSW for approximately 50 disability advocacy services. This will counter the Liberal’s 2018 stay of execution, which granted only two years further of funding with the threat of complete funding cuts.
- Delivering an additional 4,900 health and hospital workers across NSW. This will improve nurse-to-patient ratios and speed and quality of health services.
- Committing $2.7 billion worth of funding to ensure students in NSW receive the best educational opportunities possible. This funding will better support students particularly with special education and learning needs. Labor will commit to hiring an additional 150 support teachers and professional support staff.
- Providing free public transport for school-aged kids across NSW.
- Boosting the number of career advisors, especially in rural regions, and addressing youth unemployment as a priority.
- Funding free eye tests and glasses for 52,000 schoolchildren from Kindergarten to Year 3 at NSW schools with a low socio-educational index.
Introduced in 2014 by NSW Liberals and former Minister for Ageing and Disability Services, The Hon. John Ajaka, the NSW Carers Strategy 2014-2019 set a five-year plan to deliver better services and support for carers.
This included five key areas:
- Employment and education; with a focus on transition from school to further education and employment
- Carer health and wellbeing; with a focus on mental health services
- Information and community awareness; with a focus on easily accessible resources and greater community support
- Carer engagement; with a focus on decision making rights for carers
- Improving the evidence base; with a focus on policy and practice being based on quality evidence
For the upcoming election, NSW Liberals promise boosts to education, mental health services in schools, hospitals and homelessness support. These promises include:
- Hiring a further 4,600 teachers over the next four years to reach record levels of teachers in public schools across NSW.
- Employing 100 additional school counsellors and psychologists and an additional 350 student support officers to ensure every NSW public high school has access to these vital supports, as part of a $88 million boost into mental health programs in schools. NSW Liberals will partner with specialist mental health organisations to develop training courses for teachers to better identify struggling students and help reduce stigma surrounding mental illness and seeking help. This will not only make it easier for students to access relevant support, but ensure teachers are adequately equipped with the knowledge and skills to support them.
- Investing $500 million in upgrading non-government school facilities over the coming four years to build more classrooms and cater for growing enrolments.
- Providing an extra $2.8 billion for an extra 5,000 nurses and midwives anddelivering 8,000 additional paediatric operations to cut waiting times and improve efficiency.
- More funding towards halving homelessness by 2025, through early intervention and creative responses.
Greens NSW’s campaign for people, not profit includes enhanced public-school funding, patient care and mental health services. This includes:
- Increasing funding to public schools whilst stopping the overfunding of elite private schools.
- Improving patient care by ending public-private partnerships, providing better health services to regional centres so people don’t have to travel far and wide for medical appointments, and increasing funding for public mental-health services. This includes a focus on early-intervention programs for mental illness.
- Focusing on prevention and education surrounding substance abuse.
In particular, their support for carers includes:
- Increasing the availability of support and respite services for carers and families that care for people affected by mental illness.
- Implementing a Charter of Patient Rights, with patients, families and carers encouraged to play a stronger role
- Allowing individuals who experience physical, intellectual, cognitive and/or psychiatric disability, and their families and carers, the right to participate in all levels of policy, service planning and delivery and evaluation.
WHAT DO WE WANT TO SEE?
Little Dreamers calls for greater investment in Young Carer-led supports for Young Carers across NSW, stronger school communities focusing on holistic support for Young Carers, enhanced focus on data aggregation and integrity to create long-term change and a re-established focus on Australia’s most vulnerable young people.
View our 2019 NSW State Election Platform: http://bit.ly/NSWPlatform