On Tuesday last week Treasurer Berejiklian handed down the 2016/2017 NSW Budget – outlining this Government’s vision for the future.
Yesterday, at a breakfast with the Treasurer, NCOSS released its Budget analysis outlining where we’ve seen gains for the people we serve – people experiencing poverty and disadvantage – and where there is much more work to do.
In this Budget what we see is a Government focussed on its key themes of fiscal management, with significant infrastructure investment and modest growth in service delivery. That said, it also invests in new and expanded services across government, with funding for most major service areas increasing in 2016/2017. Health (up 5%) and education (up 7.2%) are the major highlights.
This budget also sees new investments in a range of key areas that have featured in NCOSS advocacy and the advocacy of our members and stakeholders over the past year – housing and homelessness, domestic and family violence, mental health, children and families, disability, employment and transport.
With a $3.7 billion surplus, however, this budget was a missed opportunity to fix our chronic underinvestment and underperformance in early childhood education and care (ECEC). Despite a 14.8% increase in spending (largely made up of Commonwealth payments, carry forwards and previous commitments) NSW will almost certainly continue to invest less per child in ECEC than any other state, and this is not enough to effectively address affordability and access issues for NSW parents.