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2020-21 New South Wales State Budget

The 2020-21 New South Wales state budget has been handed down. OTA has prepared a summary of those budgetary measures most relevant to occupational therapists. Click on the links below to skip to the sections of most interest to you.

The Bottom Line

The 2020-21 New South Wales Budget is notable for its appalling, if predictable, sea of “red” and a highly optimistic path back to “the black”.

The immediate economic indicators are bleak. Unemployment is estimated to peak at 7.5 per cent by December before easing to 5.25 per cent by mid-2024. Net debt will rise to $53 billion by the middle of next year, reaching $104 billion by 2024. Thereafter, however, the Budget is supposed to return to surplus, and the long and arduous task of repaying debt will begin.

The budget deficit will reach $15.9 billion in 2020-21, before falling sharply to $2 billion next year, and then declining to $460 million by June 2024.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet noted that the enormity of the forecast deficits is offset to an extent by the historically low cost of borrowing, ensuring a more affordable stimulus package aimed squarely at job creation.

He also characterised the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity for structural reform and made the case for the removal of stamp duty. Although falling short of declaring it official Coalition policy, Mr Perrottet floated the idea of offering landowners the choice between paying stamp duty, basically a (very high) tax on the purchase of property, or paying an annual land tax.

In a bid to revive the state’s devastated hospitality industry, the Berejiklian Government will give every adult a $100 voucher to spend on restaurant meals and recreational activities.

Aiming to get more people back into work, payroll tax thresholds will be increased from $1 million to $1.2 million, and the tax itself will be reduced for two years, from 5.45 per cent to 4.85 per cent.

There are several initiatives of interest to occupational therapists.

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Health

The 2020-21 Budget invests a record $29.3 billion in the NSW health system. This includes $500 million to support the state’s COVID-19 health response, $385 million to maintain supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline workers and $30 million for emergency department attendances and ambulance callouts.

This Budget also allocates $55.9 million over four years to the state’s palliative care services. This will fund an additional 5,000 End of Life support packages, as well as access to specialist allied health professionals, improved bereavement and psychosocial support services, and education and training.

The NSW Government will also increase digital capacity in the state’s health system, including an investment of $45 million to expand telehealth capabilities.

Communities are also to benefit from a range of health infrastructure projects, including:

  • $111.1 million in 2020-21 for the Wyong Hospital Redevelopment;
  • $7.5 million to establish a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Dubbo;
  • $220.3 million in 2020-21 for the New Maitland Hospital;
  • $10.1 million in 2020-21 the new Shellharbour Hospital;
  • $13 million in 2020-21 for the Inverell Hospital Redevelopment;
  • $41.4 million in 2020-21 for the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital Redevelopment;
  • $60.7 million in 2020-21 for the Goulburn Hospital Redevelopment; and
  • $5 million in 2020-21 towards establishment of the Emmaus Memory Support Community Centre.

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Mental Health

The 2020-21 Budget commits $169.4 million over four years to fund vital mental health support during and beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic. Measures include:

  • $66.2 million to continue the work of community-based mental health clinicians, including expanding youth mental health services;
  • $50.4 million to expand virtual mental health services, enabling greater access to support for people in immediate crisis;
  • $46.8 million to recruit 100 wellbeing health and in-reach nurses to provide wellbeing checks in schools; and
  • $6 million over three years to establish 12 Mental Health and Community Wellbeing Collaboratives in communities across the state.

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Aged Care

$17 million for upskilling, mentoring and job matching for people working in the care economy to improve recruitment and retention of care workers and meet the long-term needs of the State’s older citizens, those with a disability and others requiring care.

Up to 20,000 training places to skill people working in aged care to support the growing needs of the sector and $2.5 million to develop a strategic business case for a TAFE aged care centre of excellence training facility.

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Education

An investment of $337 million over the 2021 school year to deliver intensive tutoring for up to 290,000 students in NSW schools — supporting students to recover lost learning time as a result of the COVID-19 shutdowns in early 2020.

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Disability

This year, NSW will invest $3.5 billion in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), enabling people living with disability in NSW to receive support. The Budget commits more than $112 million over four years to fund disability advocacy programs and inclusion services. A further $17 million will be invested to boost jobs in the rapidly growing disability support sector, to ensure service providers can attract and upskill staff.

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Community Support

$9 million in 2020-21 to extend targeted support for food charities.

$50 million in 2020-21 to establish a one-off, time-limited Social Sector Transformation Fund to help charities adapt and respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NSW Government will invest $29 million over two years to expand the Together Home initiative, to assist rough sleepers into secure housing and help break the cycle of homelessness. This builds on the Government’s previous commitment of $36 million to the program. This expansion of Together Home is on top of $1.1 billion over four years for specialist homelessness services.

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First Nations

$20 million expenses over four years for Closing the Gap in accordance with the National Agreement, and support for the equal participation of Aboriginal communities in priority reforms.

$212 million to deliver new and upgraded quality social and affordable housing for Aboriginal communities across a range of major regional and metro locations, and supporting employment in the local construction and trade industries.

$69.3 million to deliver the Roads to Home program, which will provide planning and infrastructure upgrades to up to seven further Aboriginal communities, in addition to the original ten communities.

$0.8 million in 2020-21 (as part of a $2.9 million project) to deliver new and upgraded quality social and affordable housing for Aboriginal communities in Killarney Vale.

$1.5 million in 2020-21 to deliver new and upgraded quality social and affordable housing for Aboriginal communities in Dubbo.

$1.8 million in 2020-21 (as part of a $6.5 million project) to deliver new and upgraded quality social and affordable housing for Aboriginal communities in Walgett, Wilcannia and Broken Hill.

$5.8 million in 2020-21 (as part of a $7.2 million project) to deliver new and upgraded quality social and affordable housing for Aboriginal communities in Wallsend, Taree, Woodberry, Toronto and Forster.

$1.7 million in 2020-21 (as part of a $3.6 million project) to deliver new and upgraded quality social and affordable housing for Aboriginal communities in Bomaderry, Oak Flats and Nowra.

$1 million in 2020-21 (as part of a $2.1 million project) to deliver new and upgraded quality social and affordable housing for Aboriginal communities in Inverell and Armidale.

$4.2 million in 2020-21 (as part of a $6.5 million project) to deliver new and upgraded quality social and affordable housing for Aboriginal communities in Coffs Harbour, Goonellabah, Lismore and Tweed Heads.

$1.2 million in 2020-21 (as part of a $1.3 million project) to deliver new and upgraded quality social and affordable housing for Aboriginal communities in Griffith and Lavington.

For more information, access the NSW State Budget 2020-21 Budget at https://www.budget.nsw.gov.au/2020-21-Budget-Papers

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