The Australian Council of Social Service’s submission to the Federal Budget outlines plans to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, as we navigate the pandemic, by investing in the solutions to our most pressing challenges.
The Budget Submission has been informed by consultation across the community sector, which has been crucial in the national response to the health and economic crisis of COVID-19 as well as the bushfire crises.
Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service – the peak body for the community sector – said:
“Now is the time for the Morrison Government to invest in our recovery in order to make the most of the good work it did in protecting the community and stimulating the economy in its initial response to the crisis last year. We cannot stall now and risk the country slipping backwards. By embracing investment ideas that solve our most pressing challenges we can create a much healthier Australia, generating good jobs and emerging a more caring and confident country.
“We need to tackle the big challenges – our public health response, record unemployment, the extreme weather of climate change, the social housing shortfall and under-resourcing in aged care and other essential services.
“Currently, we have double the amount of people trying to get by on unemployment payments than we did before this crisis – they are looking to the Morrison Government to ensure they can cover the basics and to generate jobs.
“It’s crucial that job creation plans are coupled with a permanent and adequate increase to the JobSeeker payment – we cannot leave people behind to struggle in the poverty trap as we get through this crisis. We need to work together as a community, as we have demonstrated we can do in dealing with successive outbreaks.
“One of the most widely supported ideas we’re putting forward is the construction 20,000 to 30,000 social housing homes that meet accessibility and energy efficiency standards. It would generate more than 15,000 jobs a year and deal with our dire national shortage of social housing. The social housing shortfall came into stark focus during the crisis, when governments rushed to find emergency, short-term housing for people sleeping rough – many of these people now have nowhere to go.
“We’re also calling for a national program to improve energy efficiency in low-income homes. It would cut energy bills for those struggling to pay them, lower emissions and create tens of thousands of jobs – a win, win, win on the social, environmental and jobs fronts.
“The crisis also shone a light on the deep need for greater staffing in aged care and other community services. We have an opportunity to finally fix the gaps in these essential services of the care sector, while creating tens of thousands of jobs to give more people an opportunity to control their own futures.
“Our sector has been on the front line of supporting people through the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, as well as the bushfires that have devastated regional communities. We’ve set out plans to create local hubs to build resilience to extreme weather events. By putting in place practical projects that make sense on the ground, we can sure up regional communities in the face of more extreme weather events in the future.
“If we continue to work together, as we did to get through the initial crisis, we can achieve a healthier, brighter future for the country that does not leave people behind in the poverty trap,” Dr Goldie said.
ACOSS’ budget proposals would generate and save hundreds of thousands of jobs, including:
• 24,000 jobs in aged care
• 15,000 social housing construction
• Tens of thousands of jobs through a national program to improve energy efficiency in low-income homes
• More than 10,000 jobs in the community service sector
• More than 10,000 jobs in early education – an investment which would increase female workforce participation
• Thousands of jobs in health through a universal dental health scheme
• Approx. 200,000 jobs a year through a jobs and training guarantee for people who have been unemployed for more than a year (6 months if under 25 years). These jobs would last for six months with the aim of them transitioning into ongoing paid employment.
• A saving of 145,000 full-time jobs over the next two years by not going back to the old rate of Newstart. Deloitte Access Economics has found going back to the old rate would cost the economy $31.3 billion and 145,000 jobs.
• Saving of hundreds of thousands of jobs during 2021 by continuing JobKeeper wage subsidies in industries and regions severely impacted by COVID-related restrictions (including border restrictions and any future lock-downs) until COVID vaccines are widely administered.