Community Colleges Australia comment on Federal Labor 2023 Budget

CCA CEO, Dr Don Perlgut, comments on the foundation skills announcements in tonight’s Federal Budget:

“The Federal Labor Budget brings some good news for Australia’s struggling low literacy workers and learners, estimated at 20% of the adult Australian population and 40% of the adult First Nations population. The Government has committed to spend $436.4 million over 4 years for a redesigned Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program, including a significant change that removes access barriers so that participants will no longer have to be registered jobseekers.

“The Government is also committing to ‘a mix of national and local solutions to improve access and delivery’ of literacy, which we hope will enable funding to operate on local and regional levels, where proper skills planning should take place, rather on a ‘top down’ national or multi-state level. If this funding and program redesign is properly combined with the Budget’s commitment to addressing entrenched disadvantage in communities through ‘better use [of] place‑based approaches to target disadvantage and to support a greater ability for communities to make decisions reflecting their needs,’ we are likely to see significant success.

“There are other complementary measures, including new ‘adult literacy brokers’ – about which we hope to hear much more about soon.”

Read the Budget night statement from the Hon Brendan O’Connor, Minister for Skills and Training.

View the comprehensive Special 2023 Budget Report from Our Community, which quotes CCA’s Dr Perlgut. David Crosbie, CEO of Community Council for Australia (the “other CCA”), reflects on how the Budget performs for Australia’s community sector:

“Our assessment is that this budget passes – and takes some important steps in the right direction – but it is not a bold or assertive budget, and lacks significant and sustained investment in programs and services that could make a real difference to charities, not-for-profits, and the communities they serve.

“It is a well-constructed budget, delivering a surplus that will help pay down our pandemic debt, but also offering targeted cost of living relief and many initiatives supportive of the broader communities sector. But the weakness in this budget is that the level of support is limited and spread relatively thinly. We see this in the Jobseeker increases – less than $3 a day – and in the rent assistance increase of 15%, but we also see it in programs that are important for charities and not-for-profits.

David Crosbie gives the Budget an overall “3½ lamingtons” out of 5” for the community sector, using a measure he invented to recognise all the community organisations relying on fêtes and fundraisers to survive.

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