“Whilst our kids will remember COVID, I will not ask them to pay for it.” They were the words spoken by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Budget Night 2023 – and the message was clear. COVID measures have left the state $116 billion in debt, and the Government was handing down a lean and difficult budget to start paying it off.
That means cuts. The Community Connectors program, which some vulnerable single mothers had relied on to link to health and social supports, has been cut entirely, making it more difficult for some families to receive the support they need. A series of low-income electricity concessions have also been scrapped.
On the plus side, new revenue raising measures have been largely targeted at mega businesses, private schools, absent foreign landlords and holiday-home owners, with lower-income single mothers spared.
The Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund, which provides payments for eligible students to attend school camps, excursions, and sports and outdoor education programs, has also been funded.
There has also been some investment in areas that may impact single mothers.
- Another round of the Power Saving Bonus, which provides $250 to households that use the Victorian Energy Compare website to search for the cheapest electricity deal.
- Capping of regional public transport fares at the metro rate
- $50 million to help low income families to access public fertility care
- The installation of up to 1,500 free pad and tampon machines at up to 700 public sites including courts, TAFEs, public libraries, train stations
- An expansion of the Smile Squad free dental program to low‑fee Independent and Catholic schools from 2026
- $16 million to keep providing pads and tampons in every government school free of charge.
Whilst it’s encouraging that low-income single mother families won’t, for the most part, be burdened with paying back the COVID debt, we are dismayed that there is very little in the Budget to help single mother families cope with the cost of living crisis. Housing, specifically, is an issue that is driving an increasing number of us into poverty and homelessness.
Victoria’s homelessness services are currently placing over 4,000 individuals and families in hotels and crisis accommodation each month so they aren’t sleeping in their cars, on the street or in unsafe situations. These families need a safe and secure place to call home.
Yet no new capital investment in housing was delivered through this Budget.
For those single mothers living in private rental accommodation, securing an affordable rental has become largely out of reach.
Victorian, South Australian, Tasmanian and ACT governments all froze rent increases during the pandemic and we believe such measures need to be reintroduced until the cost of living gets under control.