When I saw this year’s Federal Budget I laughed, then I cried, then I laughed again, and so the cycle had begun.
You see, I’m not averse to tightening the belt to lessen debt, heaven knows I’ve done it numerous times, but this budget is going to hit me hard. I’ll have to punch new holes in my belt.
As a single mum, I’m not sure I’ll be able to cover all the bills if all the changes come in.
Sure I’m fine right now, I’m one of the lucky ones who was working until redundancy last year. As a result I have a secure rental and a chest freezer, I can buy in bulk and I know I don’t have to move in a hurry. But there are so many changes that may seem small, but when your budget is allocated down to the last dollar, it adds up quickly.
I could fill a small manifesto with the subtle ways in which I’ll be further ‘challenged’, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s break things down into changes that will make life harder for me as a single mum, a parent to a child with a diagnosis of aspergers, and as a student.
AS A MUM …
Freezing of benefits
I’m pretty sure my landlord, local supermarket, electricity provider etc won’t be ‘freezing’ their prices for three years.
Family Tax Benefit B cessation after age 6
I’ll probably have to walk to university and invite the local homeless guy to look after my son after school in a few years’ time!
Fuel excise indexation
I already run the car until I can see the lowest fuel price and fill up then, sometimes opting to use the pushbike to reduce costs.
Withdrawal of legal aid funding
I sincerely hope this doesn’t hit me, however when I spoke with Legal Aid four years ago the wait times were already ridiculous and the resources so limited that they could not offer personalised advice on the safeguarding of my son.
More expensive fees, reduced quality of care.
Abolishing the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, Dental Flexible Grants Programme and Diagnostic Imaging Quality Programme
This makes me very frightened of the costs of many medical and allied health services. In NSW there is even direct removal of funding from dental clinics in the budget!
Patient contributions for GP, pathology and diagnostic imaging services
Yes, that’s right … it’s not just the GP! For example, my son has chronic ear infections.That’s $7 for the GP, $7 for pathology, $7 to go back to GP for the results, Additional $7 for a chest x-ray … and we still ended up going through surgery with even more costs.
Reduced optometry rebates and removal of charging cap
So you might now have to pay for eye tests and if you’re poor you might not even be able to get the scary dodgy glasses covered. You just stay blind instead – clear vision is overrated anyway.
Clean Energy Supplement indexation cessation
Another ‘small’ amount that’s easy to absorb – if you weren’t already accessing foodbanks to feed yourself.
Education Entry Payment cessation
The overall cost of uniforms, books etc is difficult to manage when it equals your ENTIRE fortnightly income (not your disposable income … has been a while since I had one of those!)
Removal of End-of-Year Supplements
After all it’s a silly idea to actually give individuals the ‘buffer’ being garnished from payments in case of error when it’s tallied up!
Reduction in public hospital funding
As if the waiting periods aren’t long enough!
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership — reduced funding and Centre for Quality Teaching and Learning — cessation
Why would we want our children being taught by qualified, supported and appropriate numbers of teachers?
Increase to the medicare levy threshold
This is to be commended though, it now means that those below the 2010 poverty line will finally be exempt from paying the Medicare Levy, as the threshold has increased to $40,679 p/a. I just wish I could find the figures on the poverty line for 2014, but hey … It probably hasn’t changed in four years along with CPI.
AS A SPECIAL NEEDS MUM …
ABC reduced funding
Peppa Pig … Sesame Street … Octonauts … ! OK, so there’s no direct financial impact but aspie mums will ABSOLUTELY understand its importance.
Increased pharmaceutical costs and elevated safety net
This means it will cost more for medication, and you’ll spend more before you hit the safety net. But really … it IS fair to have that indexed when your income goes up with CPI … oh, wait, hold on…
Rolling eligibility checks for disability payments
To get my son’s initial diagnosis cost about $500 and took seven months. This was QUICK and relatively cheap as I only needed to see two specialists and one bulk-billed under the Mental Health Plan (of which funding is now being cut). Under the new budget I can expect diagnosis to cost closer to $1000, which is much less than the additional benefit granted to assist with the expense of DAY-TO-DAY LIVING with a special needs child. In addition, the government can’t confirm if benefits would cease during this evaluation period (I’m going to assume it will), and it takes on average 6+months to ACCESS the specialists.
AS A STUDENT …
Removal of Pensioner Education Supplement
It’s only about $62 a fortnight additional assistance to go to uni. It doesn’t cover a lot, but it is HUGE in my budget!
HECS‑HELP benefit — cessation
Yes, I won’t need to pay upfront, but the new system will mean that I need to pay more. The super exciting thing is that it appears the interest will start to accrue once you go over the income threshold. So any women getting qualifications certainly want to either pay off their fees in entirety or not earn much money before having kids, cause if your interest starts to kick in, you’re probably highly unlikely to buy a house before your 50s.
Deregulation of fees
As my degree is in the medical sciences field the projections are for a 60-80% increase in fees
Image credit: koya79/123RF Stock Photo