2021-22 WA Budget Delivered

 

“This budget proves that by keeping the state safe from COVID-19 we have delivered the best economic and social outcomes in Australia and possibly the world,” Premier Mark McGowan.

"We'd really like to see a bit more around long-term vision, investment in social, community and economic infrastructure to set the state up for long-term economic growth and a vibrant society," Cassandra Winzar, senior economist at Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA).

“Opportunities to support stronger business investment and reduce business costs have mostly been overlooked,” Aaron Morey, chief economist at Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The 2021-22 WA budget was handed down on Thursday 9 September by Premier; Treasurer, Hon Mark McGowan.

OTA (Occupational Therapy Australia) has prepared a summary of those budget measures most relevant to occupational therapists.

The Bottom Line

Delivering a record 5.6-billion-dollar budget surplus, the Western Australian Labor Government’s fifth budget continues the positive trend in the state’s economic fortunes. WA is forecasting ongoing budget surpluses through 2024-25, with a $2.8 billion surplus anticipated this fiscal year.

The surplus is again largely attributable to sky high iron ore royalties, driven by Chinese demand. It was significantly boosted by $4.5 billion in GST revenue, with over $5 billion being expected in 2021-22. The higher than anticipated taxation from the property market ($1.1 billion), also contributed to the record surplus. Surpluses are anticipated to continue through the forward estimates to 2024-25.

Whilst state debt remains high, it has declined for the third consecutive year to $32.1 billion by 30 June 2022. However, from 2022-23 it is expected to again increase. Assumptions on international borders re-opening from September 2022 forecast the state's economic growth slowing from this time, impacted by overseas spending.

A sizeable portion of the surplus has been allocated on health and mental health ($1.9 billion). The state's COVID-19 response has identified expenditure of $465.7 million over 2021-22, including hotel quarantine, the vaccine program, Public Health Emergency Operation Centre, State Health Incident Coordination Centre operations, and adequate personal protective equipment and pathology.  $875 million will fund social housing supply and initiatives. $200 million of the Digital Capability Fund is set aside for health sector ICT projects.

The McGowan Government election commitment capping household water and electricity prices in line with inflation and providing support to customers most in need is reflected in household fees and charges rising by 1.6 per cent (around $99.36). Additional supports are provided through energy rebates and concessions including the Energy Assistance Payment, Dependent Child Rebate and Air Conditioning Rebate. Expansion of the Water Corporations Medical Assist Program, providing households a bi-monthly allowance of up to 30,000 litres of water free of charge for persons with kidney disease undertaking home dialysis is another support initiative.

The McGowan government $1000 per year public sector wage cap, which was meant to remain in place for another two years will be reviewed by the end of 2021.

Health and Hospitals

Over $10.6 billion will be spent on Health and the Mental Health Commission on services in 2021-22, including $895 million, to provide an additional 332 beds (223 general health and 109 mental health) as well as funding for additional staff and infrastructure upgrades.

The budget includes expenditure of:

  • $256.7 million on the Joondalup Health Campus redevelopment, incorporating expanded mental health, emergency department and inpatient facilities;
  • $200.1 million upgrade of Bunbury Regional Hospital to address projected demand for services in the Southwest region;
  • $152 million redevelopment and expansion of inpatient, mental health, and outpatient facilities at Peel Health Campus, returning privatised services back to the state;
  • $1.8 billion allocated towards the establishment of a new Women and Babies Hospital;
  • $11.2 million has been allocated to support the ongoing implementation of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act (2019);
  • $3.2 million allocated towards a dedicated Children’s Hospice;
  • $12.1 million will fund the establishment of an Image Guided Operating Theatre at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, enabling contemporary treatment to vascular disease patients;
  • $3.3 million investment in relocation and development of a purpose-built facility that will provide dental healthcare and treatment to special needs patients;
  • $35.6 million to implement new emergency department staffing models, employ additional staff in waiting areas at Perth Children’s Hospital, implement a transition to practice program, and for a targeted recruitment campaign;
  • $2.3 million to expand the virtual emergency medicine system to improve ambulance and emergency department flow;
  •  $2.7 million towards women’s community health services in the Kimberley, expanding services to addressing mental illness and family, domestic and sexual violence;
  • $2.7 million on programs dedicated to supporting Western Australia’s Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities through establishment of a CALD women’s community health service in the metropolitan south-eastern corridor.

 

Additional commitments planned and underway include:

  • $31.7 million over the budget period to establish a state-wide eating disorder service for people aged 16 and above. The centralised service includes a day program and early intervention as well as a prevention campaign and a pilot specialist multidisciplinary outpatient clinic.
  • $3.5 million to fund a Health Navigator Program to assist children in out-of-home care access better health care; and
  • $9.5 million to fund co-located child and adolescent health service hubs in Midland and Murdoch.

 

Mental Health

The 2021-22 budget includes $61.6 million for mental health Emergency Department supports as well as a record level of funding ($495 million) for the Mental Health Commission and sees investment primarily in community-based accommodation and supports for youth and alcohol and other drug initiatives.

The funding includes:

  • $24.6m million to fund new Mental Health Emergency Centres and Behavioural Assessment Urgent Care Centres at Armadale Health Service and Rockingham General Hospital;
  • $5.6 million for upgrades at Bentley Hospital and within regional Acute Psychiatric Units located in Broome, Albany, Kalgoorlie, and Bunbury;
  • $49.1 million to increase capacity through establishment of the Bentley Secure Extended Care Unit and Mental Health Emergency Centres;
  • $25.5 million Step up/Step Down Facilities including South Hedland;
  • $27.7 million in youth long-term housing and psychosocial support;
  • $37 million funding of Active Recovery Teams, including regionally in Geraldton and Northam;
  • $37 million in expanding child and adult community assessment and treatment teams; and
  • $12.5 million funding for a purpose built 20 bed Perth-based alcohol and other drug withdrawal and rehabilitation facility.

 

Aged Care

The 2021-22 budget did not allocate any specific funding towards Aged Care services; however, implementation of funding from previous budgets on Sister Kate’s Aboriginal Health and Aged Care Facility in Queens Park continues.

Education

  • $1.8 million allocated to support the recovery of the international education sector, aimed at enticing international students to study in WA when international borders reopen;
  • $1.87 million to fund Connected Beginnings (Roebourne) helping Aboriginal children prepare for school. The program contributes to objectives under Closing the Gap;
  • $1 million funding the Better Beginnings early literacy and learning Program into the Kimberley and Pilbara regions;
  • $3.7 million to expand school psychology services;
  • $5.5 million to expand alternate educational learning settings in metropolitan and regional areas;
  • $170.1 million over four years additional funding for students with disability; and
  • Infrastructure investments of:
    • $3 million for South Bunbury Education Support Centre;
    • $3 million to construct an education support centre at Burns Beach Primary School;
    • $2 million for the West Coast Education Support Centre; and
    • $250,000 for Castlereagh School.

 

Disability

  • $36.3 million budgeted towards the state’s contribution to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The forecast contributions over 2021-22 to 2024-25 have been revised upwards by $115.6 million, accounting for reductions of budgeted in-kind contributions;
  • $3.8 million to fund WA’s Office of Disability, which is tasked with leading state disability services policy and stewardship functions, advising on NDIS issues and WA’s response to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability;
  • $1.25 million on the State Disability Innovation Fund;
  • $2.1 million over 2021-22 and $700K over 2022-23 has been allocated to the Full Circle Therapy Centre in Kalgoorlie-Boulder to enable children with special needs to access specialised therapies and allied health;
  • $500K towards extending the Changing Places Network, which is tasked with the provision of secure, clean facilities for people with a disability to access appropriate bathroom facilities when in the community;
  • $500K to fund seed grants for disability micro-enterprise, to support the establishment of innovative microenterprises of people with disability, and to develop and implement a business mentoring initiative to support interested businesses to employ someone with disability;
  • $100K to fund provision of all-terrain wheelchairs for public use; and
  • $48.1 million over four years to fund upgrades to existing train stations to improve disability access, CCTV, lighting, station access and pathways.

 

Indigenous Western Australians

  • $17.6 million to establish a Social and Emotional Wellbeing Pilot within five Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in the regions, supporting individuals and families to access culturally secure services to maintain and improve health and wellness;
  •  $795,000 in 2021-22 to finalise the drafting of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill which seeks to establish an original approach to protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage and transform how Aboriginal cultural heritage is identified;
  • $3.7 million towards the Aboriginal Tourism Fund to support initiatives including the development of new Aboriginal tourism experiences and create employment opportunities;
  • $14 million funding to continue Aboriginal Community Connectors program across 13 locations and regions. The program provides safe transport options, culturally responsive crisis supports and local employment opportunities;
  • $77 million to fund Aboriginal Short Stay Accommodation ensuring Aboriginal people who need to travel to Perth or regional centres to access critical services can access safe and secure accommodation;
  • $5.6 million to establish and operate a Broome Aboriginal-led specialist family violence court, services to support Aboriginal women who have experienced domestic violence and provide interventions for perpetrators of violence prior to the final sentencing; and
  • $9.2 million towards extending the Strong Spirit Strong Mind program for Aboriginal youth.

 

 

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