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Tuesday 21 June 2016

Today’s NSW Budget invests in a range of initiatives that will make a real difference to the lives of people experiencing poverty and disadvantage but continued lack of investment in early intervention and early learning are missed opportunities according to the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS).

NCOSS CEO Tracy Howe said today’s budget would see welcome funding injections to ensure people – particularly young people - have a safe, secure place to call home, to reduce crisis levels of domestic and family violence, to ensure people experiencing mental ill-health have the right support at the right time and people with disability continue to have strong advocates.

“Investment in these key areas will go a long way to reducing poverty and disadvantage in our state and ensure our communities are stronger. Everyone deserves a safe place to call home and our young people, in particular, deserve our protection and support.

“With the roll out of the NDIS it’s also crucial the advocacy services remain to support people with disability through on of the largest reforms this country has ever seen – it’s great to see funding for these service extended.” 

Ms Howe said the increase $75 million over four years to tackle drug misuse in our communities was a great step in the right direction.

“The $8 million allocated to increase residential rehabilitation for women and parents with dependent children is, in particular, a great initiative. There’s only one service providing this support currently and it’s great to see more opportunities for women to address their problems with alcohol and other drugs without losing their children.”

Ms Howe said that while there was much to be positive about in the Budget it was disappointing, particularly given the $3.4 billion surplus available to the Government, that early intervention initiatives and early learning continued to be overlooked.

“NSW is in a better position than it’s ever been to invest in early intervention initiatives and early education and care.

“A 14% increase in funding to early childhood education and care is a step in the right direction but we know too many children in NSW are missing out on the best possible start in life as investment in early childhood education and care fails to reach the most vulnerable.

“The NSW Auditor-General recently showed NSW has by far the lowest proportion of children attending early childhood education in the year before school (82%), is the state with the worst performance on the proportion of disadvantaged children in early childhood education (72%), and has the least affordable fees.

“Expenditure in NSW on early childhood education and care per child aged 0–12 years was $202, compared with $347 in Victoria, $644 in SA and $683 in WA.  We would like to see the NSW Government increase funding to $600 per child, bringing NSW into line with other States.”