AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL ELECTION 2019
The Australian federal election takes place this May 18. We’re focusing on the key parties and their election promises for mental health, disability, young people and carers.
Australian Labor Party
Labor’s key election promises include pledging more to hospitals, rural healthcare and NDIS accessibility and training.
Labor’s Better Hospitals Fund promises a $2.8 billion funding increase over six years to improve the quality of hospitals, mental health facilities and early intervention centres, as well as more staff and training. This is said to benefit every hospital and patient in the country.
A Labor Government would further commit $92 million to a Northern Territory health package, including upgrading health facilities, funding the purchase of a new Careflight helicopter for Darwin Hospital, and major improvements to remote health services.
Labor will further invest $29.6 million in working to reduce youth suicide and poor mental health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This ties into Labor’s commitment to a National Rural Health Strategy. Little Dreamers supports the motion for enhanced rural support, as this is an area of considerable underfunding. Currently, youths in the Northern Territory are three times more likely to commit suicide than youth in other areas of Australia. This is only scratching the surface of rural statistics.
In terms of NDIS, Labor will commit $40 million to local NDIS workforce trials, with an urgency to develop a national NDIS workforce strategy. The current government has seen major underspending in this area. On average, people are using only 50 per cent of their first NDIS plan, largely because of a lack of access to services. In addition, Labor will eradicate up-front TAFE fees for students studying NDIS and aged care.
Labor has also committed to ‘end the Medicare Freeze’. This relates to the rising out-of-pocket expenses of many health care services and strives to make health care attainable for all Australians.
Liberal Party of Australia
The Liberal Party recently announced their federal budget proposal for 2019/20. This would be enacted should Liberal be re-elected, including some key promises in the areas of mental health intervention and education, as well as disability and aged care. In this budget, Liberal has achieved a projected surplus for the year 2020.
One of the most notable announcements was for $528 million towards a Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Little Dreamers commends this initiative, as a much-needed and much-overdue investigation.
Liberal has also pledged $461 million in funding boosts to address youth mental health, including establishing 30 new Headspace centres to support at risk youths. This is particularly beneficial in rural communities where mental health support is currently lacking.
The 2019 budget makes a welcome commitment of a further $84.3 million to the Integrated Carer Support Service. This will ideally boost Young Carers in their education and expand the Regional Delivery Partners network which provides outreach activities, peer support, and coaching for youths at risk.
Little Dreamers would have liked to see a commitment in the budget to increasing the Newstart allowance. Young people on Newstart receive $40 per day, whilst aged pensioners receive $65. We believe greater funding for young people and their futures is drastically required as the cost of living continues to increase whilst youth support does not.
The Greens’ health commitments centre on youth mental health, social services and disability accessibility.
For youths, the Greens have pledged to provide $250 million over four years in grant funding for community-based assertive outreach programs targeted at children and young people, to encourage social enterprise, mental wellbeing and youth connectedness. Furthermore, the Greens promise to improve access to face-to-face children and youth therapy sessions by providing $25 million over the next four years.
The Greens also pledge to support youths by raising the Newstart and Youth Allowance by $75 per week.
In terms of NDIS, the Greens will ensure the NDIS is fully funded, transparent, consultative and accountable. They will increase federal advocacy funding by $11.3 million to disability advocacy bodies, so that these services can adequately support disabled Australians and their families, particularly during the current period of transition to the NDIS. The Greens will also build a dedicated online platform for discussion, debate and cultural development in the disability community, costing $1.1 million over four years. This would be a particularly useful tool throughout the Royal Commission into Disability.
In addition, Little Dreamers supports the Greens’ commitment to establishing an Office of Disability Strategy within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. This would ensure the NDIS is adequately monitored and coordinated, among other functions.