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2020-21 South Australian Budget Delivered

The 2020-21 South Australian budget was handed down on Tuesday, 10 November by Treasurer Rob Lucas MLC.

Stimulus is intended to drive the economy forward over the next two years by way of a doubling of the state’s debt.

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

South Australian Liberal Treasurer, Rob Lucas, described the COVID-19 pandemic as "the greatest challenge of our time". His government intends to take advantage of record-low interest rates to borrow more, and in turn, kickstart the South Australian economy. Key commenters have noted that much of this spending emphasises stimulus rather than jobs.

Net government debt will rise to $33.2 billion over the forward estimates, with a larger than expected deficit of $2.6 billion forecast for this year, $1.42 billion in 2021-22 and $435 million in 2022-23.

The South Australian Budget is forecast to return to a $406 million surplus in 2023-24.

Key areas of spending include development of the main North-South Corridor along South Road at a cost of $8.8 billion by 2030, as well as major upgrades to the Hindmarsh Soccer Stadium and the Memorial Drive Tennis Facility.

Of most interest to OTA members will be the significant health expenditure outlined in the 2020-21 Budget.

Health and Hospitals

Health infrastructure is one of the key winners of the 2020-21 Budget, with a $1.7 billion investment over the next four years. This includes:

  • $50 million for a special care baby unit and paediatric emergency services at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital;
  • $50 million for expansion of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital;
  • $15 million for upgrades to the Gawler Emergency Department;
  • $10 million for Regional Health Facilities Sustainability Works;
  • $6 million for improved repatriation transitional rehabilitation accommodation;
  • $4.3 million for the Port Augusta ambulance station;
  • $4 million for Strathalbyn aged care and lifestyle facilities; and
  • $1.5m to upgrade lifts at the Modbury Hospital.

The 2020-21 Budget delivers $330 million over two years to fund the state’s COVID-19 health response. This includes Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), contact tracing, emergency response and pathology services, as well as short-term activation of temporary hospital sites to prepare for potential surge capacity needs.

A further $17 million over two years will fund transport relief for hospital staff. This measure enables hospital staff to access free public transport, free parking across all South Australian metropolitan hospitals and reimbursements of up to $101 per month for non-site related car parking.

Mental Health

As part of the state’s COVID-19 response, the Government will invest $20.4 over two years in the mental health and wellbeing of South Australians.

Strategies include extending existing outreach/support services over digital platforms to carers, Indigenous and other at-risk groups; further clinical support for drug and alcohol services and those with acute mental illness; mental health support to prisoners and those in youth detention; and increased mental health services for government employees at the front-line of the pandemic.

The state’s Bushfire Recovery Package allocates a further $5 million over two years to increase mental health services, and $2.6 million over four years to fund a targeted community wellbeing and resilience program for those impacted by the fires.

Closing the Gap

The 2020-21 Budget delivers $5.1 million over four years for the new national agreement on Closing the Gap, addressing ongoing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. This includes funding to support the functions of the South Australian Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations Network.

Veterans

The 2020-21 Budget confirmed that the SA Government will utilise $5 million of Commonwealth funding to establish a Veteran Wellbeing Centre at the Repatriation General Hospital. The new Centre is to help address health concerns within the veteran community.

OTA notes that the Framework for Veteran’s Health Care – the document which sets the strategic direction for the provision of veterans’ health care in South Australia – is to expire at the end of the year.

Social Housing

The 2020-21 Budget invests in social housing to protect vulnerable South Australians.

The South Australian Government has committed $13.6 million over three years to fund short-term emergency accommodation and support services for rough sleepers, including those from remote Aboriginal communities.

The Budget also allocates $873,000 over two years to support Aboriginal people from remote communities to avoid homelessness or displacement during travel restrictions; and to meet isolation requirements before returning to their communities.

A further $1.1 million will be used to fund the Street to Home Program, an initiative providing a range of services for people sleeping rough in the inner city.

Disability

The 2020-21 Budget allocates $32.9 million over four years to support 750 traineeship and apprenticeship places in government agencies in a range of sectors, including aged care and disability.

A number of budgetary measures are to help implement the recommendations of the Safeguarding Taskforce. This includes $3.5 million over four years to expand the Adult Safeguarding Unit to include adults living with a disability who may be vulnerable to abuse.

A further $1.8 million over three years will fund advocacy support for people with a disability during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Budget also allocates $6.8 million over four years to fund case management and services provision for NDIS participants. This measure is to address the increase in guardianship and administration orders.

Education

As part of $1.3 billion investment in education facilities over four years, two new schools will be built in Aldinga and Angle Value. Each will accommodate 1500 students, including 100 places for students with a disability.

A third new school in Whyalla will accommodate 48 students with a disability.

For more information, access the South Australian State Budget 2020-21 at https://statebudget.sa.gov.au/#Budget_Papers.

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