This is a budget for women and single parents with plenty of new funding and cash for people in difficult circumstances. But once again the government neglects to raise Jobseeker or the Single Parent Payment to a live-able rate
Get on top of everything single parents need to know about the big spending 2021 federal government budget in just five minutes.
By Jason Bryce
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s 2021 budget has money for women’s health, cash for those escaping DV, women’s superannuation, childcare, domestic violence services, training, the Single Parent Family Home Guarantee and more.
Last year, critics said the government had ignored women and Scott Morrison’s ministers were forced to say things like: “women drive on roads” but this year Josh Frydenberg wants to let women know they haven’t been forgotten.
“In the budget there is a focus on economic security and obviously childcare has been a signature item and women’s safety and health as well.”
Perhaps for single mums the most important changes are for those escaping domestic violence.
This is your quick five-minute guide to Budget 2021:
Lockdowns and the disastrous social and economic conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic brought domestic violence to many families in 2020.
The government says that two-thirds of women who have experienced violence at the hands of a current or former live-in partner reported the violence started or got worse during the pandemic.
Tell your story once
Centrelink will only ask you to recount your story once to access support. Previously, women have been required to repeatedly retell their story to access various payments and benefits.
Cash for escaping DV
From June 2023 (so two full years away), the Government will start a two-year trial providing emergency $1,500 cash payments for women leaving a violent relationship plus $3,500 worth of goods.
There is almost $300 million in additional federal funding for services and accommodation for DV survivors.
DV services for Indigenous women will be boosted by $57 million in extra funding.
$12.6 million will go to building emergency accommodation for people leaving violent relationships.
Family Law services
$416.2 million in new funding for the family law system will mean women may find it easier to get help with family court matters. Couples with less than $500,000 in total assets may be eligible for lawyers to help with the property settlement and divorce/separation.
Nearly half of all women looking for more work say their care responsibilities are the major barrier that stops them from starting a new job or taking on more work.
From 1 July 2022, childcare may get cheaper and easier to afford, for up to 400,000 families with more than one small child.
The government will spend $1.7 billion on increasing childcare subsidies for families with more than one child under five years old in childcare. The maximum subsidy will rise to 95 per cent for the second and subsequent children.
The $10,650 cap on the Child Care Subsidy will be removed as well, assisting 18,000 families who use a lot of childcare.
The government says 40,000 individuals will be able to pick up an extra day at work without paying more in childcare. For example, single parents earning about $65,500 with two children in four days of long day care will be able to work a fifth day, and still be $71 a week better off.
These changes do not start until July next year – 2022.
Ten million people earning less than $126,000 will continue to receive the Low and Middle Income Tax Offset which is up to $1080 when you lodge your tax, so around July.
If you earn up to $37,000 per year, you can look forward to tax relief of up to $510 at tax time.
People earning between $37,000 and $90,000 can expect between $510 and $1080. Between $090,000 and $126,000, taxpayers will get slightly less, depending on circumstances.
Women experience a higher proportion of mental or behavioural conditions, such as anxiety, than men, says the government. So, the plan is, that women will particularly benefit from Josh Frydenberg handing $2.3 billion in extra funding to mental health services after the last few years of bushfire, drought, floods and the coronavirus pandemic.
Services in regional and disadvantaged areas and places most affected by youth unemployment and natural disasters will get more money to serve their communities.
For example, women expecting a child stand to benefit from $47.4 million in extra funding for the National Perinatal Mental Health Check Initiative, which helps expecting parents access mental health and other services.
There is also money for BreastScreen Australia and other breast cancer services.
Breast cancer is the number one killer of women aged 45 to 64 but is one of the most preventable and treatable cancers. Kisqali, a drug used to treat advanced breast cancer will be added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, lowering the cost from over $50,000 to $41.30 per prescription. Fulvestrant will also be added to the PBS for advanced breast cancer sufferers.
Cervical cancer screening, education and research will get more than $30 million in additional funding.
Industry Super said this federal budget is increasing women’s savings by billions by maintaining the planned increases to super and scrapping the minimum $450 per month wage threshold for the payment of superannuation.
That means part-time and casual workers who earn less than $450 per month will now be paid superannuation. This change will benefit 300,000 people in total and twice as many women as men.
The plan to allow victims of family and domestic violence to access their superannuation balances early has been scrapped and that previously announced scheme will now not happen at all.
Buying a home
First home buyers will be able to get more out of their super for a home deposit – up to $50,000 of additional voluntary concessional and non-concessional contributions, up from $30,000 previously.
These changes may not happen until 2023.
But from July 2021, single parents may be able to benefit from the Single Parent Family Home Guarantee. This lowers the minimum deposit required for a mortgage loan (without Lender’s Mortgage Insurance) from 20 per cent to just 2 per cent for eligible single parents. Read more about the Single Parent Family Home Guarantee here.
Funding for mid-career, middle aged women
Women aged 30-45 will be able to access free career counselling more quickly. The Mid-career Checkpoint service is for women who have taken time off, out of the paid workforce, for caring responsibilities.
Previously the Checkpoint counselling service was open to women out of work for two years but will now be open to women who have been out of work for just six months.
Indigenous women entrepreneurs
$13.9 million over four years has been allocated for an Early Stage Social Enterprise Foundation to support social enterprises that improve the economic security of Indigenous Women.
Loans and grants will be made to around 30 social enterprises that support Indigenous women entrepreneurs.
Women in STEM
The Government will spend $42 million over seven years to support about 230 women to pursue higher level qualifications (Masters, Doctorates etc) in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Rarely (if ever) does a budget feature so many announcements aimed squarely at women.
This is the last budget before voters go to the polls again to cast judgement on this government. No doubt Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison are hoping women will look favourably upon the government after a disastrous 2020 and 2021 for many women and mothers.
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