Welcomed Investments and Planning for the Future
6 September 2011
The Government's renewed investment in rural and regional communities, as detailed in today's State Budget, is welcomed by NCOSS.

Catherine Mahony, Acting NCOSS Director said: “The increased funding ($28 million over 4 years) for the Isolated Patients Transport Assistance and Accommodation Scheme (IPTAAS) will make life easier for many rural people and their families and go some way to improving access to specialist health services.”

"Likewise, much of the additional $12 million in funding for the Community Transport Program will help address transport disadvantage in many rural and regional communities."

Coupled with a range of initiatives under the Regional Kick-Start Program, this budget makes a serious investment in rural and regional areas and addresses some entrenched inequities.

It will be essential however, that those families (up to 40,000) that are provided with financial incentives to relocate to regional areas have access to affordable housing, quality heath services and employment. The $3.3 million allocated to enhance rural and remote health services is a good start but will clearly require more investment as the populations grow.

Other welcome health funding includes $15 million for the Connecting Care Program, to assist people with chronic health conditions, an additional $7 million for extra Drug and Alcohol services and $3.4 million for specialist child and adolescent mental health services.

People with disability and their employers will both benefit from the payroll tax rebate (For employers providing permanent jobs for people with a disability, who have been through the Transition to Work Program) and the fully funded second phase of Stronger Together will progress greater choice and certainty for people with disability.

While there are a number of Infrastructure commitments in this budget, including funding to commence work on the North West rail link, the escalating need for more social housing is still not addressed. Affordable housing is a bedrock issue for low income and disadvantaged people across the state, but this budget includes no new measures to address this need.

Ms Mahony said: "There is no real growth in funding for the Keep Them Safe reforms. Having targets to reduce the number of children and young people in care is a useful benchmark. Achieving these targets will require adequate resources and workforce capacity, across both non-government and government sectors."

Overall Ms Mahony stated: “There is still a need for the whole of the Government to invest in a more strategic, joined-up approach to addressing disadvantage.

As with previous budgets, this one tends to reflect the silos of government agencies rather than the Government's overall plan for ensuring equality of access and opportunity, which is a key driver of both social justice and productivity.

Media contact: Catherine Mahony, NCOSS Acting Director Mob 0428 340 139

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