The 2017-18 NSW Budget handed down on 20 June was a lukewarm commitment from the government to alleviate the social and financial issues faced by our State’s most vulnerable.
We know we need to invest in communities to lift people out of poverty and disadvantage. Last year we visited communities around the State to hear from them about the challenges they face and the solutions that would allow them to overcome those challenges. We also spoke directly to people living below the poverty line about what would make a real difference for them. These consultations helped shape our Pre-Budget Submission, which contained a clear roadmap for change with achievable and costed asks.
There are certainly some Budget measures to be positive about. The $6 million in funding over two years for community legal centres will help ensure that everyone has access to justice, not just those who can afford it. There’s also $20 million in funding for community-based mental health services and additional money for oral health services.
While these are steps in the right direction, there was a missed opportunity for a deep social infrastructure spend to support the most vulnerable. We saw plenty of investment in physical infrastructure like roads and buildings, but little in people or social infrastructure.
We have also recommended that the NSW Government, as part of its commitment to developing a NSW Women’s Strategy, introduce a Women’s Budget for NSW, enabling it to assess the implications of the budget, for men and women, in all their diversity.