OVERALL, THIS BUDGET IS QUITE BORING.
There. We said it. We admit it.
For young people, especially two weeks removed from the Federal Government’s circus, it’s hard to turn our minds to governments doing real work. But here we are.
The budget does, however, give us a window into how the Government plans to address a range of issues that affect the lives of young people. So let’s unpack what we’ve got ahead of us.
SUPER BRIEF GUIDE TO THE BUDGET.
What is the budget being praised for?
It’s cutting costs. There are some taxes that have been reduced, and some services being cut.
What is the budget being criticised for?
Some of the things being cut are TAFE campuses, bus routes (potentially and probably), and jobs.
What can I say to my friends to sound smart if they ask me about the budget?
This is a ‘wait and see’ budget. This Government will be judged on how they replace the benefits of the services they’ve cut in the name of ‘efficiencies’, and how they make sure young people who are missing out are supported.
WHAT DOES THIS BUDGET MEAN FOR THE THINGS I AM PASSIONATE ABOUT?
- The Laptop for Schools program will be ceased.
- The Safe Schools program will be axed.
- The Government will fund a $15 million attendance, drugs and anti-bullying initiative in schools.
- New schools will be built in Munno Para, Aldinga and Whyalla.
- 7 TAFE campuses are being closed (Tea Tree Gully, Port Adelaide, Urrbrae, Parafield, Wudinna, Roxby Downs and Coober Pedy).
The laptop program and regional TAFE campuses help ensure that all young people have access to meaningful participation in their education, and cutting them will have a negative effect on some young people.
Just because TAFE campuses aren’t efficient to run doesn’t necessarily mean they are not worthwhile. Travel costs are expensive and prohibitive, so closing education facilities for people in regional areas will only further limit their access to meaningful skills training. How the Government replaces these opportunities will be important to watch.
- The Government is getting rid of payroll tax for small businesses. This will eliminate the payroll tax of 3,200 small businesses.
- The Future Jobs Fund has been scrapped.
There’s not much in the budget surrounding employment, which is kind of frustrating given that there are 17,900 young people looking for work in South Australia.
The big ticket here is the payroll tax cut. We’ve talked a lot recently about how employment measures that target young people, and not the failing job market, will never work. So it is heartening to see the Government seek to address employment by, theoretically, helping small businesses grow. Whether or not this measure will lead to more jobs being created remains to be seen.
Cost of living
- The Emergency Services Levy (a tax) will be cut and could save households around $145 over the next 12 months (as per the ABC).
When young people raised the cost of living as a major issue in the lead up to the State Election, they mentioned things like rent, food, utilities, petrol, transport and licensing. Cuts to the ESL will save some young people some money, but will do little to address the costs that are impacting the lives of young people.
Note: There are also measures to help 40,000 SA households get solar batteries. While it’s uncertain whether this will give young people immediately relief from their cost of living burdens, it’s still a pretty cool measure – especially if you’re passionate about renewable energy.
- The Government are going to put mobile phone charging stations at public transport stations.
- The Government is also going to conduct a review into public transport, looking into “low patronised services”, and “optimising timetables” (Read: some bus lines will be cut).
We’re concerned about language that talks about ‘low patronised services’ and ‘optimising timetables’. If low density or outer-metro areas are targeted in any cut down, transport is going to become even more problematic for young people in those areas. Optimising timetables could affect the frequency of services late at night, negatively impacting the accessibility and safety for young people who need to travel late at night due to shift work, university study or social activities.
- The Government will establish a Borderline Personality Disorder service.
- The Government will establish a Paediatric Eating Disorder Service.
- The Government has committed additional funds for suicide prevention services.
These measures are good, and are exactly what the Government promised before the State Election. Before the election, the Government also promised a state-wide Mental health Services Plan which is not in the budget. Considering the core mental health related issues young people had before the election were access to services – especially in regional and rural areas – that plan is going to be crucial moving forward.
Other cool stuff
- The Government will extend support to carers of young people up to 21 years of age (it was previously up to 18 years of age).
- The Government will fund an additional 40 domestic and family violence crisis beds.
- DHS screening will be free for volunteers.
All three of these measures are massive steps forward that will help people in really important ways.