Christian groups’ budget response

The Uniting Church in Australia and some of its agencies have spoken out against the recent Federal Budget announcements. Rev Prof Andrew Dutney, president of the Uniting  Church in Australia, said that the recent funding cuts would hurt some of the most vulnerable Australians.

“The Federal Budget lays out an extensive range of program cuts and structural changes,” he said. “Cutting more than half a billion dollars from Indigenous programs, tough new  conditions for youth support, and making all Australians pay to see a doctor are just a few of a number of measures that have the potential to harm those who really need our help.”

UnitingCare Australia is also concerned about the wellbeing of many Australians who will be losing vital support.

“The burden of this budget falls overwhelmingly on families, pensioners and young people,” said Lin Hatfield Dodds, national director of UnitingCare Australia. “Cuts to family  payments, income support and pensions are four times the size of the temporary levy on high income earners.

“Many of these cuts are permanent, while the high income levy runs for only three years.

“Medicare co-payments  will hit the health and hip pockets of disadvantaged Australians,” she continued.

Lin did, however, support some of the measures.

“It is good to see the continued commitment to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and funding to support  he aged  care workforce,” she said.

UnitingWorld, the Uniting Church’s relief and development arm, has also expressed disappointment; the biggest cuts in the budget have been made to foreign aid at $7.6 billion  across the forward estimates.

“The Government has broken its promise on overseas aid by reneging on the bipartisan commitment to lift aid levels to 0.5 per cent of gross national income (GNI),” said Rob Floyd, national director of UnitingWorld. “These cuts come at the expense of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, many of whom live in our Asia- Pacific region.”

Micah Challenge Australia, a Christian advocacy agency that speaks out to reduce global poverty, agrees.

“We are extremely disappointed to see the poorest people in our region bear the brunt of our Government’s budget savings yet again,” said  Ben Thurley, political engagement  co-ordinator at Micah Challenge.

“This represents an unconscionable delay in meeting our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, and is a breach of faith with the Australian people who overwhelmingly support a generous and effective aid program.”

YouthCare, the largest provider of school chaplains in WA, have thanked the Federal Government for its commitment to the National School Chaplaincy Program.

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