One of the state’s leading community services, housing and aged care providers, UnitingSA welcomes South Australian Budget initiatives to ease cost-of-living challenges, boost housing availability and provide more access to early childhood education.

UnitingSA CEO Jenny Hall said that while many South Australians are having a tough time making ends meet, vulnerable members of our community, including those on lower incomes and those who rely on income support, carry the heaviest burden.

More than ever before UnitingSA is seeing individuals and families reach out for support and emergency relief and in many cases, people are seeking help for the first time.
On top of recently announced Federal Budget relief initiatives in the form of energy bill rebates and modest rent assistance increases, the South Australian Government’s assistance package of more than $250 million will put more money in the pockets of South Australians who need it most.

Concessions and cost of living support will benefit groups including Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders, renters in share housing and families with school-aged children.

However, she said, increases were marginal and UnitingSA join with the SA Council on the Ageing to advocate for concessions to keep pace with inflation and skyrocketing household expenses.

Ms Hall said that while the budget allocation of more than $570 million to build just under 2000 new homes in the western and southern suburbs won’t fix the housing crisis overnight, it was a positive for future housing supply.

“When it comes to housing, we see too many South Australians unable to find a home and living in unsuitable conditions including sleeping in cars or relying on friends and family for short term accommodation,” she said.

“The $425 million to be invested in Seaton will see more than 1000 new homes created, including affordable and social housing properties and $150 million in Port Noarlunga and Noarlunga Downs.

“We know that the housing crisis is in part a supply issue and in order to shift the dial what we really need is around 1000 new public and affordable homes a year over the next several years.”

As part of the Seaton redevelopment, around 400 SA Housing Authority (SAHA) homes will be replaced 1:1 – a positive initiative that will lift the standard of living for public housing tenants.

However, Ms Hall said she expects this process to be managed sensitively, knowing that SAHA tenants are among the most vulnerable members of the community.

UnitingSA is a provider of affordable and social housing, and said while there have been criticisms of the abolition of stamp duty for first time buyers and builders of new homes, it will help make home ownership more affordable and remove a barrier that may otherwise keep buyers out of the market.

Other welcome budget spending commitments include: more than $330 million over five years to implement universal three-year-old pre-school; $127 million over four years to provide 30 hours a week of pre-school to three and four year olds at greatest risk of developmental vulnerability and $14 million over four years to partner with Aboriginal communities to increase the benefits Aboriginal children receive from three-year old pre-school.

Ms Hall said not only do these initiatives reflect recommendations of the Gillard Royal Commission into Early Childhood Education and Care, they also reflect calls made in the Child Social Exclusion Report released earlier this year.

The report, a collaboration between the UnitingCare Australia network, including UnitingSA and the University of Canberra, found 880,000 Australian children under the age of 15 are socially, educationally and economically isolated. South Australian children are among the top three most excluded in the nation.

“Knowing that the early years and quality care, education and interventions are so important in shaping the rest of child’s life, we welcome news this state government is committed to providing a fair go for young South Australian children with early educational opportunities and interventions.”

In good news for the not-for-profit sector, $18.4 million over four years will be provided to support non-government organisations meet the challenge of rising costs associated with inflation and increased wages as they strive to support communities.

UnitingSA will continue to advocate for people-focussed policy and initiatives that create a better and fairer future for the most vulnerable in our community.

For further information:
Catherine Bauer, UnitingSA
P: 0478 855 367