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The Federal Budget has recognised the importance of the care economy in driving economic growth and wellbeing, according to the peak social services body, NCOSS.

The Budget follows several expert reports, inquiries, and Royal Commissions into the systemic issues across the social services, aged care, and disability sectors.

This includes a report recently commissioned by NCOSS from Equity Economics, which highlighted the economic potential of the social services sector in NSW, which employs more than 230,000 people, and provides care to more than 1 million people per year.

NCOSS CEO Joanna Quilty said that the Federal Budget’s recognition of the importance of these sectors was positive and long overdue but said more must be done to support the sector’s largely female workforce and the most vulnerable in the community.

“This Budget invests significantly in the aged care, childcare and disability sectors, which is really welcome, but we now must ensure this increased investment flows through to staff at the frontline, as well as improved outcomes for people on the ground,” Ms Quilty said.

“We need to see better pay and conditions, the opportunity to upgrade skills, stronger career paths and more respect if we are to attract and retain people in these important sectors.”

Ms Quilty also welcomed increased investment in much needed mental health and women’s safety initiatives but highlighted that this comes after years of neglect.

“Initiatives like multidisciplinary mental health centres for adults, aftercare to prevent suicide and increased emergency accommodation, legal and financial assistance to support women’s safety are significant and a step in the right direction, but we are playing catch up after years of under-investment in these areas.

“More is needed to address underlying causes and systemic failings so that the right support is readily available and able to prevent crises.”

Ms Quilty said despite positive steps on the care economy, there was lack of leadership on tackling our affordable housing crisis.

“This was the opportunity for the Federal Government to substantially invest in social housing which is both good economic stimulus and a means of addressing the needs of very vulnerable people most at risk of homelessness, such as older women and women and children leaving violence.

“But instead, we get more first homebuyer initiatives which increase demand and push prices up, hurting those doing it toughest.”

Media contact: Nick Trainor 0407 078 138