Payments for families with schoolkids start tomorrow

Jun 19, 2012

From tomorrow, 1.3 million Australian families will receive a boost to their budgets to help with school costs.

Families receiving their Family Tax Benefit Part A fortnightly will receive $409 for each child in primary school and $818 for each child in high school from tomorrow until the end of June.

This payment will be paid straight into families’ bank accounts as part of the transition from the Education Tax Refund to the new Schoolkids Bonus.

About 2.2 million kids will benefit from this new payment to help with expenses like uniforms, books, school excursions, stationery, and other costs like music lessons and sports registration fees.

The Government is automatically paying the full amount of the Education Tax Refund for 2011-12 to all eligible families. We don’t want any family to miss out on their full entitlements.

We understand that families with kids in school are busy. With the Schoolkids Bonus, parents don’t have to keep receipts to claim back expenses at tax time any more. And there’s no extra paperwork.

From January next year, families will receive the new Schoolkids Bonus, paid twice a year before school goes back for Term 1 and Term 3.

Eligible families will receive $410 for children in primary school (two instalments of $205), and $820 for children in full-time secondary study (two instalments of $410).

The Schoolkids Bonus will give families more support to help cover school costs than ever before.
Under the Education Tax Refund, 80 per cent of families weren’t claiming what they’re entitled to – they either claimed less than the full amount, or claimed nothing at all.

Replacing the old system with the Schoolkids Bonus means one million families will receive more cash – a typical family will get more than $720 extra each year.[i]

We understand that many families are find it difficult to meet the costs things like uniforms, school books and other education expenses. The new Schoolkids Bonus will give parents extra help to balance the family budget.

This is important cost of living relief that will be delivered by the Gillard Government was voted against in the Parliament by the Liberals.

Families receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A are eligible for the new Schoolkids Bonus. Young people in school receiving Youth Allowance and some other income support and veterans’ payments may also receive the payment.

Families who claim their Family Tax Benefit as a lump sum payment at the end of the financial year will automatically get this extra assistance then.

For more information visit www.humanservices.gov.au/schoolkidsbonus or call 132 468.

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[i] This is based on a family with one child in primary school child and one in high school.

Extra cash for pensioners

May 28, 2012

From today and over the coming weeks 3.2 million Australian pensioners will receive more money in their bank accounts to help them make ends meet.

Across Australia a total of about $707 million in household assistance will be going out to pensioners before the carbon price starts on 1 July.

Full and part pensioners will receive upfront household assistance payments of $250 for singles or $380 for couples combined. These payments will be paid straight into pensioners’ bank accounts over the coming few weeks.

From March next year pensioners will receive ongoing annual household assistance that will increase to keep up with the cost of living.

The Government knows that pensioners have the least room to move in their budgets, which is why they will get the most help, with many pensioners coming out ahead.

About 2.1 million pensioners who are on the maximum rate of the pension will be better off by $134 a year for singles and $201 a year for couples on average – a buffer of more than 65 per cent against the expected impact of the carbon price.

And 93 per cent of pensioner households will be at least 20 per cent better off thanks to these new payments.

The Gillard Government is providing household assistance payments to millions of Australians. More than 1.6 million families have already received or will soon receive household assistance of up to $110 for each child in families receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A and up to $69 for families receiving Family Tax Benefit Part B.

Self-funded retirees, veterans, students and other eligible payment recipients are set to receive increases in their payments before the end of June.

And in July Australian workers will benefit from new tax cuts.

This new pension payment is on top of the historic pension rise and improved indexation arrangements this Labor Government delivered in September 2009. Since then the pension has increased by $154 per fortnight for singles and $156 per fortnight for couples combined.

Pensioners can find out more by visiting australia.gov.au/householdassistance or by calling 132 300.

National Disability Insurance Scheme to launch in 2013

Apr 30, 2012

A National Disability Insurance Scheme will start in Australia from July 2013 in up to four locations across the country.

From mid 2013, about 10,000 people with significant and permanent disabilities will start to receive support.

By July 2014, that figure will rise to 20,000 people.

The timeframe announced today means the first stage of an NDIS will be delivered a full year ahead of the timetable set out by the Productivity Commission.

For the first time in Australia’s history people with significant and permanent disability will receive lifetime care and support, regardless of how they acquired their disability.

The Labor Government will fund its share of the cost of the initial stage of the NDIS in the May Budget.

A new National Disability Transition Agency, funded by the Australian Government, will be established to run the delivery of care and support to people with disability, their families and carers in the select locations.

The Government wants all Australians with disability to start benefiting from this fundamental reform as quickly as possible.

The initial launch locations will be determined in consultation with the states and territories – who have all agreed their shared responsibility for the fundamental reform of disability care and support.

The work done at these launch locations will give the Government vital information on how best to progress the national roll-out.

An NDIS will give all Australians with a significant disability the peace of mind to know that their care and support needs will be addressed, no matter where they live or how they acquired their disability.

More choice, easier access and better care for older Australians

Apr 20, 2012

Under landmark changes to the aged care system, more people will get to keep their home, and more people will get to stay in their home as they receive aged care.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler, today announced a 10 year plan to reshape aged care, beginning 1 July 2012.

The Labor Government will deliver the $3.7 billion Living Longer Living Better plan to deliver more choice, easier access and better care for older Australians and their families.


To make it easier for older Australians to stay in their home while they receive care, the Government will:
 

  • Increase the number of Home Care Packages- from 59,876 to almost 100,000 (99,669).
     
  • Provide tailored care packages to people receiving home care, and new funding for dementia care.
     
  • Cap costs, so that full pensioners pay no more than the basic fee.


To make sure more people get to keep their family home, and to prevent anyone being forced to sell their home in an emergency fire sale, the Government will:
 

  • Provide more choice about how to pay for care. Instead of a bond which can cost up to $2.6 million and bears no resemblance to the actual cost of accommodation, you will be able to pay through a lump sum or a periodic payment, or a combination of both.
     
  • Give families time to make a decision about how to pay, by introducing a cooling-off period.
     
  • Cap care costs, with nobody paying more than $25,000 a year and no more than $60,000 over a lifetime.

For the first time, the Government will also introduce fairness into the payment system. Right now, pensioners often pay more than people with hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets and a private income. As a result, pensioners are subsidising the accommodation and care costs of millionaires.

From now on the system will be fairer, based on capacity to pay. The amount you pay for aged care services will be capped and underpinned by tightened means testing, meaning older Australians will not be forced into a fire sale of the family home in order to get access to aged care.

This will not affect the million people already in the system, who will not pay a cent more than they would have under the current arrangements.
 

To ensure there are immediate improvements as well, the Government will also:
 

  • Increase residential aged care places from 191,522 to 221,103
     
  • Fund $1.2 billion to improve the aged care workforce through a Workforce Compact
     
  • Provide more funding for dementia care in aged care, and more support for services
     
  • Establish a single gateway to all aged care services, to make them easier to access and navigate
     
  • Set stricter standards, with greater oversight of aged care.
     


This package reflects in large part what older Australians, their families and carers, and aged care providers have told us is wrong with the system, along with the valuable input of the Productivity Commission report, Caring for Older Australians.

These reforms will enable older Australians to get the help they both need and deserve so they can remain living in their own homes for as long as possible. Labor’s plan will help older Australians keep their own home for as long as they want.

They replace an aged care system designed a quarter of a century ago and which is now ill-equipped to meet the needs of retiring baby boomers and their parents who are living longer and healthier lives.

Implementation of the reforms will be overseen by a new Aged Care Reform Implementation Council. The new reform package will be implemented in stages to enable providers and consumers to gain early benefits of key changes and have time to adapt and plan for further reform over the 10 years.


Under Living Longer Living Better the Gillard Government will invest:
 

  • $1.9 billion to deliver better access to aged care services;
     
  • $1.2 billion over five years to tackle critical shortages in the aged care workforce;
     
  • $80.2 million to improve aged care linkages with the health system;
     
  • $54.8 million to support carers;
     
  • $268.4 million to tackle the nation’s dementia epidemic;
     
  • $192 million to support the diverse care of Australia’s ageing population.


Home care

Older Australians want to receive care in their own home. Over the next five years, the number of operational Home Care packages will increase from 59,876 to 99,669. This will mean less waiting time for people who need care.

Under new means-testing arrangements for Home Care packages, which will start from 1 July 2014, a consistent income test will be introduced. This will ensure that people of similar means pay similar fees – regardless of where they live – with safeguards for those who can least afford to pay.

The means test will not include the family home, which remains exempt.

People currently receiving a Home Care package will not be subject to the new arrangements while their current care continues.

In addition, to protect care recipients with higher than average care needs, an indexed annual cap of $5,000 for single people on income less than $43,000, and on a sliding scale of up to $10,000 for self funded retirees, will apply to care fees. A lifetime care fee cap of $60,000 will be introduced.

Residential care

From 1 July 2014, the maximum accommodation supplement that the Government pays to aged care providers when people are unable to meet the cost of their accommodation will be increased from $32.58 to around $52.84 per day. This will help more aged care homes to be built or refurbished. 

As a result, we expect aged care places to increase from 191,522 to 221,103.

At the same time, we will give older Australians more choice about how to pay for their care, ensuring no-one is forced into an emergency fire sale.

Residents can pay for their accommodation in a lump sum, periodically, or a combination of both. A new cooling off period will mean that residents will not need to decide how they are going to pay until they have actually entered care.

From 1 July 2014, residential care means testing will be strengthened and improved. The current income and assets tests will be combined. This will address the unfair situation that results in asset-rich, income-poor residents paying for all of their accommodation and nothing for care, and income-rich, asset-poor residents who pay for their care but not for accommodation.

As with Home Care, the treatment of the family home will not change from current arrangements.

An annual cap of $25,000 and a lifetime cap of $60,000 will apply to care fees.

Support will continue to be provided to ensure homes in regional, rural and remote Australia are viable, and that people with greatest need, such as Indigenous Australians and homeless people, are looked after.


Building the workforce

The Government is tackling critical shortages in the aged care workforce by allocating $1.2 billion over five years to attract, retain and train aged care workers – and to ensure that they receive competitive wages through a Workforce Compact between government, unions and aged care providers.


Building a gateway to aged care services

A new My Aged Care website and national call centre will be established from 2013 – the first step in building the Aged Care Gateway, an online integrated information and assessment entry point. The website will include an innovative ratings system of aged care homes.

Tackling dementia

Nearly a million Australians are estimated to have dementia by 2050.

The Government is making significant investments to better support people, families and carers living with dementia. A new Dementia Supplement will provide financial assistance of $164.3 million to people receiving Home Care packages and in residential care.

There will be increased support for primary health care providers to undertake more timely dementia diagnosis, and a stronger focus on people with younger onset dementia.

Therapy services to help older Australians to age well

Apr 11, 2012

More than 70,000 older Australians will continue to receive subsidised physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and podiatry services for the next 3 years.

Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, announced today that funding for the Day Therapy Centre (DTC) program would be extended until 30 June 2015.

The Labor Government is providing more funding, for more services, to more older Australians than ever before.

The Government will provide more than $38 million each year to more than 140 day therapy centres across Australia, allowing them to provide a wide variety of therapies which can help older Australians to either maintain or recover their independence.  

“Older Australians are living longer, healthier and more prosperous lives than ever before and the overwhelming message that I’m hearing is that they want more support to live independently for as long as possible,” Mr Butler said.

“Our continued support of day therapy services will support our ageing population to age well and remain in their own homes and communities, close to family and friends.”

During 2010-11, nearly 74,000 people were assisted under the program and more than 800,000 hours of therapy were provided.

Giving older Australians more choice in the support and care they receive and support to remain in their own homes is critical to our efforts to build a sustainable aged care system that meets the needs of older Australians and their families.

Since being elected in 2007, the Labor Government has increased funding to aged care services by 50 per cent – providing more than $51.6 billion for aged care services across Australia.

NBN fibre rollout goes into high gear in Victoria

Mar 29, 2012

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced 691,600 Victorian homes and businesses will have access to National Broadband Network (NBN) fibre services under NBN Co’s first three year fibre rollout plan.

VIC Highlights

  • 691,600 homes and businesses in the three year NBN rollout
  • Construction to begin between 1 April 2012 and 30 June 2015
  • NBN fibre is already under construction to 21,000 VIC premises



>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Holt at a glance

The three year plan for the rollout of the National Broadband Network will see fibre construction start by 30 June 2015 in:

Cranbourne Rollout: Aprrox 17,400 homes and businesses including Cranbourne, Cranbourne East and Cranbourne West.

Dandenong Rollout: Approx 21,500 homes and businesses including Doveton, Eumemmerring and Hallam.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The indicative three year rollout plan lists the Victorian locations where construction of the national fibre network will begin between 1 April 2012 and 30 June 2015.

Under the three year rollout plan, construction of the Victorian fibre network will begin in 279 NBN Fibre Serving Areas Modules (FSAM)—each containing about 3000 homes and businesses.

“That means the NBN rollout is about to go into high gear,” Senator Conroy said.

“In the next three years, 691,600 homes and businesses in Victoria will be on the way to having, or will already have, access to NBN fibre services.”

The fibre rollout is currently under construction to 21,000 premises in Victoria. There are 2,800 homes and businesses that already have access to NBN fibre services.

The NBN will deliver high-speed fibre broadband access to 93 per cent of homes and businesses, capable of speeds of up to one gigabit per second. Seven per cent will have access to high-speed fixed wireless or next-generation satellite technologies providing peak speeds of 12 megabits per second.

The NBN is critical infrastructure that will secure the economic future of those living in Victoria and across Australia, and will support Australia becoming a leading digital economy by 2020, with improved online access to health and aged care, education, and access to government services.

“The NBN will also support a new wave of digital innovation that will change the way Australians live, do business, receive services and connect with the world,” Senator Conroy said.

“The NBN will enhance the lives of every Australian, grow productivity, and maintain our global competitiveness. It will provide regional Australia in particular with unprecedented opportunities for businesses to connect to distant markets both here and overseas.

“As I’ve said before, it is important to understand the NBN is more than just faster downloads. The NBN is the platform on which businesses will develop better and more efficient ways of running their enterprises and improving productivity.”

NBN Co, the company building and operating the NBN, released its first 12‑month rollout schedule in October 2011. That schedule, updated for the first time in February 2012, will be updated quarterly.

The three year rollout plan will be updated each year.

NBN Co has established an interactive searchable map on its website detailing the rollout, available at: www.nbnco.com.au/rollout/rollout-map.html

Investing in Automotive Jobs and skills – GM Holden

Mar 22, 2012

The Australian, South Australian and Victorian Governments today announced a $275 million co-investment in the future of GM Holden’s car making operations in Australia.

In return for this investment, Holden has agreed to inject over $1 billion into car manufacturing in Australia, and to make two next generation vehicles here that will be cheaper to run and better for the environment.

This partnership will see GM Holden continue making cars in Australia until at least 2022.

The high Australian dollar and strong competition from other countries in our region are putting strain on our automotive industry, and GM Holden had considered closing its entire design and manufacturing operations in Australia.

Through hard work and extensive negotiations we have struck an agreement that will see the company maintain a strong manufacturing presence in Australia for at least 10 more years.

The Prime Minister said the Australian Government’s contribution would be $215 million, funded under the existing $5.4 billion New Car Plan for a Greener Future.

This funding is not a hand-out – it is a strategic investment that will boost our economy, foster innovation, build new business opportunities and promote adoption of new fuel-saving and safety technologies.

Holden has estimated that the new investment package will return around $4 billion to the Australian economy.

Most importantly, this co-investment will support thousands of jobs at Holden that would have been lost if the company had stopped making cars in Australia. 

It will also support thousands of secondary jobs in key automotive component manufacturers who supply parts to GM Holden, many of which are in regional Australia.

The automotive industry employs 55,500 people across every State and the ACT and supports around 200,000 additional jobs nationally.

With a shift to global car platforms there will be increased pressure on Australian component manufacturers – but there will also be opportunities for these firms to win new business in global supply chains if they are competitive.

As part of the agreement, Holden will create a new Suppliers’ Working Group to help Australian suppliers sell into its world-wide supply chains.

Additionally, the Australian and Victorian Governments will provide an extra $35 million for the Automotive New Markets Initiative, a new program to help firms in the automotive supply chain move into export markets and supply their products to other industries, with a Federal contribution of $25 million.

The pressures on the automotive sector are likely to see restructuring in the coming period which is why the Government will also provide $15.6 million to extend the labour market element of the Automotive Industry Structural Adjustment Program to provide training and employment services for workers leaving the auto sector.

Spreading the benefits of the mining boom

Mar 20, 2012

The Government last night delivered an historic reform to share the benefits of the mining boom and deliver a fair return to Australians from the development of the nation’s resource wealth.

The Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT), which was passed last night by the Senate, will help spread the benefits of the mining boom to all Australians and strengthen our whole economy.

Australians know how important the mining industry is, but they also know that we can only dig up and sell the resources once.

The MRRT will deliver Australians with a fair return on the resources they own 100 per cent.

Only super-profitable mining companies will pay the MRRT and the proceeds will go to where they can make the greatest contribution to jobs and economic growth – to cutting taxes for all companies, to infrastructure, and increased superannuation which will boost our national savings.

The MRRT will deliver:

  • A major new tax break for Australia's 2.7 million small businesses as well as a cut to the company tax rate for all businesses, with small businesses getting a one year head-start;
     
  • A boost to the superannuation for 8.4 million workers, which will increase the nation's savings pool by $500 billion by 2035;
     
  • A much needed extra superannuation contribution for 3.6 million low-income-earners; and
     
  • Critical investment in roads, bridges and other infrastructure, particularly in our great mining regions.

Tony Abbott has opposed this important reform every step of the way, insisting that the benefits of the mining boom should not be shared by all Australians.

Mr Abbott and the Coalition have decided to turn their backs on small business, Australians workers and the broader community, and instead want to give a tax cut to super-profitable mining companies.

Most of those who will be paying the MRRT understand the importance of reforming the taxation of resources and support this critical economic reform.

Mining is a great Australian industry that is going from strength to strength in full knowledge of the introduction of the MRRT. New investment in the resources sector has risen from $47 billion in 2010-11 to $95 billion this year, to an expected $120 billion in 2012-13.

The MRRT is central to the Government's plan to spread the benefits of the mining boom to more Australians for generations to come.

The Labor Government believes all Australians should share in the benefits of the mining boom, not just a fortunate few.

Towards a new school funding system

Feb 20, 2012

Funding arrangements in Australian schools are failing to get the best results for students, are complicated and lack transparency, the first comprehensive report into school funding since 1973 has found.

The Review of Funding for Schooling was undertaken by a panel of eminent Australians chaired by David Gonski AC.

It warns that new arrangements are needed to:
 

  • Make sure that Australian kids do not fall behind the rest of the world, and keep Australia competitive, after a decline in education standards in the past decade.

     

  • Stop the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students growing wider.


To deal with these challenges, the report recommends introducing a Schooling Resource Standard, which would have two elements: a set investment per student, plus additional top-up funding to target disadvantage.

While the proposals in the report provide insight into the kind of system that might deliver the resources we need for schools and students, the report also acknowledges a lot more work is needed to develop and test the different elements of the model before we can be sure it would deliver on our goals.


The Gillard Government will implement a model of this kind if satisfied that it will help Australia to achieve the following objectives:

 

  • Support higher achievement for all students;

     

  • Deliver equity in access to high quality education;

     

  • Deliver excellent teaching and learning outcomes;

     

  • Support school choice for a diverse range of schools, allowing parents to choose the school that is right for their child;

     

  • Provide fairness, transparency and accountability;

     

  • Support continuous improvement and innovation in school performance;

     

  • Deliver financial sustainability, to ensure that schools can be financed properly into the future;

     

  • Stability and certainty for schools about their funding, ensuring that no school loses a dollar of funding per student as a result of any changes.

The Gillard Government will now begin work on the next stages in developing a new funding model for our schools.
 

The Government will:
 

  • Take a set of funding principles to the next meeting of COAG for agreement.

     

  • Seek the commitment of states and territories to work through the reform proposals and options for implementation. This will include detailed development and modeling of the elements of a new funding system, including costs, and how they could work in practice.

     

  • Establish a number of working groups under the COAG council system that will engage across sectors and with stakeholders in key areas to test specific elements of the recommended model, including additional funding to target disadvantage.

     

  • Establish a Ministerial Reference Group to ensure there is ongoing consultation and dialogue with key stakeholders and the public through this process.
     


The report also makes a number of other key recommendations, including a new approach to capital funding, strategies for promoting philanthropic partnerships with schools, and establishment of an independent National Schools Resourcing Body to set the level of investment needed to provide a high quality education. We will consider each of these in full as we work through the full set of recommendations contained in the report.

In working on these reforms, the Gillard Government will carry out a nation-wide consultation process with Australian families, teachers, principals and the wider community.

This will begin on Wednesday 22nd February with a public forum in Canberra which will be streamed live around the country. Further events will be held right across Australia in the coming months.

The Government wants every Australian parent to be confident their child will get a world-class education no matter where they live or what school they attend.

That’s why we’ve made investing in schools a national priority. We’ve introduced reforms that are having real benefits for students and families, including the national curriculum, modernising facilities in schools across the country, investing in teacher training, providing more power to principals and providing more information to parents than ever before through the My School site.

The Government has already almost doubled funding for schools to more than $65 billion over four years.

National reform of funding is the next step in this ongoing effort to raise education standards in schools. We will work through these proposals carefully, in collaboration with the community, to make sure we arrive at a new funding model that delivers the best results for Australian schools and families.

The Government thanked the members of the panel for the Review of Funding for Schooling for their leadership and service on this important issue.

The full report, the Government’s initial response and details of the next steps can be found at the Your School Our Future website www.schoolfunding.gov.au  

First national commemoration for the bombing of Darwin

Feb 19, 2012

On the 70th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Veterans’ Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon, encouraged all Australians to reflect on the dark day when our nation was first attacked on home soil – 19 February 1942.

Today's anniversary will also be the first time it is recognised as a national day of observance, joining Anzac Day and Remembrance Day as a date when Australians can pause to remember those who lost their lives protecting our freedom.

Speaking from Darwin, the Prime Minister said the attacks on Darwin and northern Australia were a defining moment in our history that should not be forgotten.

We want to make sure the sacrifice of those who died in the attacks is remembered and our veterans honoured.

We also want Australians to learn more about what happened and why these events are so significant in the history of our nation. 

Seventy years ago to the day, 242 Japanese aircraft killed more than 240 people and injured hundreds more – both civilian and service personnel.

Many sites including the harbour, post office, Army hospital, RAAF base and administration building were completely destroyed.

The attack came just four days after the fall of Singapore, from the same battle group of Japanese fighters, bombers and dive bombers that destroyed Pearl Harbor, two months prior.

Minister Snowdon said it was important for Australians to understand how these attacks changed our nation forever.

It was the first time we had been attacked on home soil and “the gravest hour in our history”, as described by Prime Minister Curtin at the time.

The bombing of Darwin was the first of more than 90 air raids across Australia’s north starting in February 1942 and lasting until November 1943, hitting Broome, Katherine, Wyndham, Townsville and Horn Island.

Images of the Bombing of Darwin are available for download from the Australian War Memorial, contact [email protected]

Audio files and films can also be requested from the Memorial’s collection web page at www.awm.gov.au/search/collections/

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