Last week, the Australian Government released its 2021 Federal Budget. Since Millenials and Gen Z’ers will foot the bill for years to come, Yak’s Lauren Freemantle delved deep into boring spreadsheets to compile a bite-sized budget guide on the sectors relevant to you.
In terms of tertiary education, there wasn’t much allocated.
In a bid to produce better job-ready graduates, the Government is funneling $1.1 million over two years for PhD students to undertake industry placements.
Non-university higher education providers gained $26.1 million to allow 5000 domestic people to take short courses in 2021.
$9.4 million was given to eligible English language schools to support online and offshore delivery.
The existing FEE-HELP loan fee exemption, established during the height of COVID, has been extended by six months into December 2021.
Although a $1 billion emergency fund was established last year to help Universities battle the loss of international student enrolments due to COVID, no further money has been allocated on that front.
In a recent press release, Universities Australia’s Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the sector took a $1.8 billion revenue hit last year and another $2 billion is expected to be lost in 2021.
“Australia’s university sector cannot sustain these losses without serious damage to national productivity and the country’s knowledge base,” she said.
UON’s Vice-Chancellor Alex Zelinsky was among those expressing disappointment, but not surprise, at the cold shoulder from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. He cited a lack of Federal Government support to combat the flow-on effects of international student loss as one reason for UON needing to restructure.
Having reviewed the budget, Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon said it was disappointing that UON’s concept-stage STEMM building, which is touted to develop job-ready graduates, missed out on funding.
In terms of jobs and training for young people, a program to encourage businesses to take on apprentices has been extended with a $2.7 billion boost to help subsidise wages and is expected to last the next four years.
There was a welcome boost to suicide prevention measures, with $2 billion allocated to improve early intervention strategies and ensure patient care after people who have attempted suicide leave the hospital.
The National Youth Mental Health Foundation, Headspace, will receive around $300 million over the next four years to continue its programs.
Eating Disorders (ED) are also in the spotlight, with a new national research centre to be established and $26.9 million invested into helping people battling EDs.
In the wake of Brittany Higgins’ sexual assault allegations and former Attorney General Christian Porter being accused of historical rape, it’s no secret the Morrison Government has been branded as battling a ‘women problem’.
That may be why, after being abolished eight years ago by Tony Abbott, the Government has once again delivered a Women’s Budget Statement on Budget Night. In the 2021 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, Australia is ranked no. 50 out of 156 countries for gender equality. So, it’s clear we have work to do in order to champion Australian women.
In women’s health, BreastScreen gained a boost, as did the National Cervical Screening Program and Ovarian Cancer Australia. In a sign of recognition for sufferers of endo, $5 million was given to support a Period Pain and Endometriosis Program run by the Pelvic Pain Foundation. Women’s Health Week, as well as information provider Jean Hailes was given a $16.6 million package.
The next generation of women in science will benefit from $42.4 million over seven years to establish co-funded scholarships between government and industry for women in STEM.
Similarly, $12.2 million was given to fund an additional round of the National Careers Institute Partnership Grants Program which facilitates career opportunities and career pathways for women.
Heavy investment was made into reducing and supporting victims of family, domestic and social violence (FDSV) against women and children. The $998 million comes as part of the ‘National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children’.
There will be $507.3 million over four years to implement and enhance programs that directly support women and children in the wake of FDSV. There will also be a two-year trial program to provide financial support of up to $5000 for women fleeing violent relationships.
Additionally, $320 million will help women and children to engage with the legal system (ie. the family courts).
The Morrison Government has said they’re aiming towards a net-zero emissions target for 2050, however, officials are wondering how the Government is aiming to lower Australia’s global footprint without legislation and funding towards green and renewable energy.
The term ‘climate’ appears only twice in this year’s mass budget paper.
Instead, the Government has budgeted $58.6 million in new funding for the gas industry over four years.
They have set aside $30 million for a new gas-fired power station owned by Andrew Forrest. Another $24.9 million will be used to make new gas-fired power plants “hydrogen-ready.”
There’s some news for single parents looking to buy a home, with a scheme allowing them to borrow with only a 2% deposit. However, the scheme has been criticised for restricting buyers to certain suburbs in the cities and for only being applicable to 10,000 single parents.
Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon commented “This budget does nothing to address the housing crisis Australia is facing, and the fundamental lack of affordable homes,” a sentiment echoed by those in the industry.
SO WHAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE?
The Budget is being praised locally by Business Hunter, with CEO Bob Hawes describing it as a plan to drive down unemployment and allow business recovery.
“The Australian economy is already responding faster than expected to the COVID pandemic, with the deficit $52.7 billion lower than was predicted just over six months ago…”
Mr Hawes cites the extension of the JobTrainer scheme, which will create 170,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships, as well as tax cuts for low and middle-income workers as highlights which support economic growth.
What impact do you think this budget will have on you?
Feature Image by Callum Pull, Yak Designer.