While this post is on the Budget, pease note that Jasiri Australia is not aligned with any political party. We strive to provide an open and supportive platform for young Australians to share their views.
Earlier this month the 2018 budget was revealed, and with the election expected to happen sometime next year the Liberal Government have included numerous benefits for all demographics, including young people. This year’s budget aims to win over young voters by helping them find a job, organise their super and prioritising their mental health. However, the Liberal Government’s attitude towards Tafe and lacking desire to help millennials crack the housing bubble may prevent them from convincing young people to vote for them next year.
One of the biggest winners emerging from the 2018 budget is university students from regional and rural areas. When considering who is eligible for youth allowance Centrelink requires students to submit a parent income threshold. Previously, parents of regional students needed to earn less than 150,000 to be eligible for youth allowance. However, this year’s budget has increased the threshold to 160,000.
The Government is also setting aside $28 million to fund sub-tertiary degrees and enabling courses that will help lead rural students to bachelor degrees and another $14 million to create six regional study hubs. By spending more on regional students, the government aims to reduce the gap between metropolitan and rural graduates as well as increase their employment prospects.
However, for students both rural and metropolitan who are looking to attend Tafe or undergo a VET course, the situation is less hopeful. With the Liberal government showing no signs of compensating for the $177 million cuts to Tafe in last year’s budget, it is expected that Tafe and VET fees will become more expensive, thus making them less accessible to young people. When Labor criticized the government and suggested their own funding scheme, Education Minister Simon Birmingham defended the Liberal governments stance on Tafe claiming they had no interest in funding in “energy healing”or “basket weaving”.
Employment and Superannuation
While the Liberals may be taking a halfhearted approach to making education more accessible, they seem fairly committed to reducing youth unemployment. Currently the youth unemployment rate is at 12.5% which is more than double the national average of 5.5%. The Liberals hopes to increase employment prospects for young people by putting nearly $90 million into creating more places through the Transition to Work program.
Furthermore, welfare organization, The Brotherhood of St Laurence will receive $700,000 to set up a Youth Employment Body to create jobs policies for young people. These programs are mainly targeted at people aged 15-21 who are at risk of long-term unemployment.
As well as helping young people find work, the budget is also setting them up for retirement. With many young people jumping from one casual job to the next, they often accumulate different superannuation accounts along the way. As a result, they end up with numerous low value super funds instead of one high value super fund.
However, from July next year the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will be able to combine all your super funds. All inactive funds worth less than $6,000 will get transferred to the ATO, who will then try and match it up with any active super accounts. This will decrease the amount of super fees young people have to pay and will make sure their superfunds can grow at a healthy rate.
The budget is also catering to the youth’s mental health needs. In Australia those aged 18-24 have the highest prevalence of mental disorders of any age group with one in five young people being affected by mental health problems. The occurrence of youth suicide is also alarming high. A third of all deaths of young men are due to suicide and the rate of suicide amongst young women has doubled in the last ten years.
To help those who are suffering mental illness or contemplating suicide, the government has invested $338 million into mental health funding, which will focus on suicide prevention and research. Of this amount, $92.4 million will be given to mental health services like Lifeline and beyondblue to help provide support and crisis management for young Australians.
The Housing Market
In last years budget, the Liberals introduced the ‘First Home Super Savers Scheme’ and removed barriers to downsizing which was expected to free up housing stock and make it easier for young people to buy their first home. These measures were seen by many as a good starting point and if further policies were introduced in following budgets, millennials would have an easier time buying a house.
However, instead of building on their reforms from last year, the Liberals completely ignored the issue of housing affordability, with treasurer Scott Morrison not even addressing it in his budget night speech. With there being no attempt to help alleviate the financial pressures for first time home owners, it is expected that older home owners will continue to hold on to their properties, thus excluding young people from the housing market.
This year’s budget has tried to appeal to young people by providing generous funding to mental health programs, attempting to combat youth unemployment and creating a more efficient superannuation system. However, in regards to education and the housing market young people are still being ignored. While university might be slightly more accessible to rural students, the Tafe system continues to fall apart. Efforts to help first time home owners burst the housing bubble have been completely abandoned as the Liberals make no effort to expand on initiatives from last year’s budget. Furthermore, the budget did not include funding of a youth peak body or any mention to reinstate a Minister for Youth. Only time will tell whether the Liberal’s policies manage to win young people’s votes or their ignorance towards education and the housing market will cost them the 2019 election.