NSW Budget 2022-23: Spending aimed at supporting women and disaster recovery but little new for the disability sector
NSW 2022-23 Budget sees a focus on supporting communities to recover from COVID-19 and floods, health workforce issues, and supporting women but includes little aimed at people with disabilities.
The Budget includes little aimed specifically at people with disabilities beyond the continued contribution ($3.4 billion in cash and 0.4 billion in- kind) to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
A range of initiatives aimed at supporting NSW communities recover from the devastating floods, severe weather and storms earlier this year have been announced. This includes $13.3 million in recurrent spending over two years for a community volunteer and NGO financial support program aimed at impacted areas in the Northern Rivers.
The budget also includes significant investment aimed at increasing opportunities for women to participate in the workforce with over 10 billion aimed at making childcare more affordable and enhancing the early childhood education system.
Given that women and girls with disabilities are more likely to experience violence, the announcement of improvements in services to prevent and respond to family and other violence is welcomed. The budget also includes $10 million in recurrent funding ($30 million over four years) for the Women and Girls Safer Cities program aimed at reducing street harassment and strengthening safety.
In recognition of the severe workforce pressures impacting the health system, the budget includes initiatives to enhance the resilience of the health workforce. This includes $210 million recurrent ($776.7 million over four years) to boost the regional workforce through increasing health training and professional development in rural areas, as well as recruitment and retention incentives.
Other workforce-related measures include $25.1 million allocated to the expansion of Careers NSW (announced as part of last year’s budget) and support for fee-free VET courses ($22.4 million in this budget) aimed at apprentices, trainees and young people.
Housing has remained a focus. The budget is committing $773.9 million for social housing to partner with Community Housing Providers to support the construction of over 120 new dwellings. There is also $20 million as part of the larger $50 million investment in the Government’s Economic Recovery Strategy to deliver 290 new properties. However, given the lack of social and affordable housing supply, greater investment is needed to address this critical issue.
There is $42.4 million ($174.8 million over four years) earmarked for disability transport subsidies including Taxi Transport Subsidies and the Wheelchair Accessible Taxi Driver Incentive Scheme. A further $240.2 million will be allocated to continue the upgrade of train stations under the Transport Access Program noting that accessibility continues to be an issue for people with disability.
Funding of $88.3 million ($339.3 million over four years) has been identified for the Commonwealth Home Support Program to support older individuals to remain at home by providing transport for health and social reasons.