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27 May, 2021

Budget round up - benefits for rural NSW

The budget can sometimes be overbearing and confusing to sift through, so compiled here are the key allocations that concern rural and regional NSW.

By Emily Middleton

Photo supplied via unsplash

The 2021-2022 budget outlined spending initiatives that would provide tangible, on the ground benefits for to farmers and bush communities. As well as this, it specifically referenced the National Farmers Federation (NFF) led goal for agriculture to be Australia’s next $100 billion by 2030.

Trade

• $213 million (m) for trade; includes enhanced representation and promotion of Australia’s interests through the World Trade Organisation.

Climate

• $209.7m for enhanced climate services.

• $36.8m for stewardship and biodiversity.

Infrastructure

• $15 billion infrastructure spend. A significant allocation of this is allocated to the Great Western Highway duplication over the Blue Mountains.

Connectivity

• $105.8m second round of Regional Connectivity Program. With this, there is an added commitment of $24.6 million to fund additional shovel-ready projects.

• $153m in funding to improve bush communications.

“NSW Farmers have been at the forefront of raising biosecurity risks and the association is pleased the country’s efforts to fight threats to livestock and crops will be boosted by $371 million,” said NSW Farmers president, James Jackson.

Pest management

• $214,500 commitment to enhance wild dog management.

• $29m for a strengthened and more coordinated approach to feral animal control.

• Over $370 million for biosecurity.

Business

• $198.2 million to support Australian exporters and businesses and $37.4 million to implement the Simp-lified Trade System reforms to enhance international competitiveness.

Women

• $1.1 billion for women’s safety measures.

• $164.8m for immediate financial assistance to women leaving violence.

“The budget provides no specific, targeted funding for women in regional, rural and remote communities and fails to adequately address the domestic violence housing crisis, with only $12.6 million allocated Australia-wide for emergency accommodation,” said a spokesperson from Western Women’s Legal Support.

“Women in rural and remote Australia are 24 times more likely to be hospitalised for family and domestic violence than women in major cities.”

Parkes electroate recovery plan

Key projects to be funded include:

• $32 million for upgrades to Hargraves Lane and Federation Street, Gilgandra.

• $32 million for the Newell Highway and Oxley Highway Intersection upgrade.

• $20 million for the Newell Highway and Mitchell Highway Intersection upgrade.

• $5 million for the Pilliga Road upgrade.

• $2.4 million for the Purlewaugh Road upgrade.

COVID-19 response

• $3 billion to continue critical services that regional and rural Australians have relied on during COVID.

• $1.9 billion for vaccine rollout, including priority for remote communities of less than 5000 people;

• $1.1 billion to extend COVID-19 health response, including $204.6m to continue multi-purpose service telehealth services, and $87.5m for the 150 GP-led respiratory clinics.

Aged care

Over $17.7 billion in aged care reforms nationally, across five pillars including:

• One-off payment of $1145 per resident to aged care facilities in non-metro areas;

• $13.4m to strengthen regional aged care stewardship within eight of the 31 primary health networks.

• $25.1m to expand the Rural Locum Assistance Program;

• $630.2m to improve access to quality aged care services for consumers in regional, rural and remote areas including those with First Nations backgrounds and special needs groups;

• $6.5 billion for an additional 80,000 Home Care Packages which will make a total of 275,598 packages available by June 2023; and $652.1m to grow a skilled, professional and compassionate workforce, including $135.6m to provide registered nurses with financial support of $3700 for full-time and $2700 for part-time workers, nursing scholarships.

Rural health workforce

$123m for Rural Health Workforce initiatives, including:

• $65.8m to boost bulk billing rebates in rural and remote areas with effect from January 1, 2022.

• $9.6m to expand the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway.

• $2.2m for more collaborative primary care models.

• $12.4m for the new John Flynn Pre-vocational Doctor Training Program to increase rural primary care rotations.

• $29.5m to increase non-GP medical specialist training in areas facing workforce shortages.

• $0.3m to streamline the Rural Procedural Grants Program and Practice Incentives Program.

Health care

• $71.9m to extend the Primary Health Network (PHN) After Hours Program;

• $20.7m to assist rural and remote diagnostic imaging providers to replace older equipment;

• $50.7m for MyGP ICT system to support voluntary patient registration;

• $13.7m for allied health case conferencing to better support multidisciplinary care for patients; and

• $5.7m to modernise the hearing services online portal, helping deliver care to Australians with hearing loss.

• $65m for expansion of bulk billing rebates in the bush

• $2.3 billion for mental health.

“Mental health is a critical issue for farmers and regional Australians, with rates of psychological distress 28.9 per cent higher among farmers than the broader population.

“We hope that regional Australia is set to receive a strong share of this allocation,” said National Farmer’s Federation president, Fiona Simson.

• $29.8m for some of the sound initiatives proposed in the National Agriculture Workforce Strategy.

“Includes the development for agriculture career pathways; data to better understand the sector’s skills needs and to help farmers to better understand their compliance responsibilities,” said Ms Simson.


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