Aged Care Award Wage Reform to provide frontline workers with greater pay
Revealed prior to the Budget release date, the Federal Government has announced its commitment to $11.3 billion in funding to reform Award Wage rates for frontline workers in the Aged Care sector.
Under changes to Award Wage rates, frontline workers within Aged Care will receive a 15% pay rise, aimed at helping ease increasing cost-of-living expenses, as well as attracting new workers to the industry.
The commitment to funding over four years aims to assist more than 250,000 workers in the sector across enrolled nurse, nursing assistant, head chef and cook positions.
The changes will take effect from 1 July 2023 – following Royal Assent from Parliament.
Further Investment in Electric Vehicle Charging Stations across Australia
Through the Federal Government’s Driving the Nation Fund, Labor has committed to provide $39.3 million to National Roads & Motorists’ Association (NRMA) – who will match the funding – to build 117 fast electric vehicles charging stations across Australia’s national highways.
In furthering EV charging infrastructure, Australian’s will have greater opportunities to travel further distances, such as Darwin to Perth, Broken Hill to Adelaide, and Brisbane to Tennant Creek.
Additionally, the increase in readily-available charging stations is believed to ease the barrier to purchasing an electric vehicle, where concerns surround battery range during travel.
Increased Infrastructure Spending on Australian Roads
The Federal Government has announced increased funding for it’s Black Spot Program – providing further safety measures and road upgrades in Western Australia and Queensland.
As part of the program, Queensland will receive $21.7 million for further investment and upgrades to 38 identified road incident sites.
Tobacco Tax to Increase from 1 September 2023
Announced ahead of the Budget, from 1 September 2023, new excise tax measures on tobacco products will be introduced – with the change highlighting tax increase of five per cent per year until 2026.
In addition to increased excise tax measures, from September, ‘loose-leaf’ and ‘roll-your-own’ tobacco products will also be taxed in the same way as cigarettes.
The introduction of these new tax reforms will account for $290 million in GST payments to States and Territories across the period. The additional tax revenue will be reinvested into Australia’s health system to support cigarette-users to quit as well as a new public health campaign to discourage Australians from taking up vaping, smoking, and other such programs.
The proposed measures will be legislated following receiving Royal Assent.
Greater Support for Young People Carers
Young people aged 12 to 25 who are caring for a loved one will get a cash boost of $768 in order to continue their education.
The Government has committed to providing an additional $10 million funding increase to Carers Australia’s Young Carer Bursary Program. As a result, bursary payments will increase from $3,000 to $3,768.
Announced as part of the changes, the number bursaries offered will also increase year-on-year between 2023 to 2025.
Greater Workplace Accessibility for Employees with Disabilities
To make workplace more accessible for those with disabilities, the Federal Government is raising funding caps for the Employment Assistance Fund – a first in over 10 years.
The Employment Assistance Fund provides businesses financial assistance to purchase work-related equipment, secure Auslan services, and support services to assist workers with a disability in the workplace.
Funding caps will increase for Auslan services – raising from $6,000 to $12,000 annually, whilst the Building Modification Cap will be doubled from $30,000 to $60,000.