The State Government’s welcome shift towards prioritising investment in people’s health and wellbeing throughout the COVID-19 recovery is evident in this year’s State Budget. However, despite the widespread acknowledgement across the political spectrum that a healthy population is the essential ingredient of a healthy economy, there remains a heavy emphasis by government on public and private infrastructure such as roads and buildings as a means to short-term economic recovery.
It was pleasing to see recognition of the industry’s value reflected in the budget. Community services were at the frontlines from the very start of the pandemic. As an industry, we were adaptable, flexible and able to identify service gaps and changing needs while also taking care of our own staff and volunteers, collaborating with fellow service organisations and developing innovative partnerships with industry, sporting clubs and many others to make sure support, food and assistance were available.
We are immensely proud of our industry’s coordinated and timely response and this was a sentiment echoed by the Minister for Human Services, the Hon Roger Jaensch MP, at the TasCOSS 2020/21 State Budget Briefing on Thursday 12 November 2020.
“My vision for Tasmania is unwavering. It is for a Tasmania that no matter where you live, no matter your background, no matter your circumstances — opportunities will be here for a better life.”
— Premier Peter Gutwein, CEDA State of the State Address, 30 September 2020
One area identified as lacking during the health crisis was isolation and disconnection from education, work and support services resulting from poor digital access and skills. This was evident across many population groups including older Tasmanians, people living on low incomes, those living with disabilities and businesses.
A dearth of funding to improve digital literacy and capacity-building in this year’s budget was disappointing.
COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of digital connectivity out in communities. As it stands, Tasmania has the lowest rates of digital inclusion (Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2020) and without the necessary investment in adult and digital literacy, low and no cost devices and data, broad communities of Tasmanians will be further excluded.
With the May State Budget only six months away, we are looking forward to seeing more targeted, strategic investment to support our population to activate the social and economic potential of a digital economy.
The TasCOSS team will continue to analyse the details of the 2020/21 State Budget papers. If you or your organisation have a specific area of interest that you would like to bring to our attention, please contact Dr Charlie Burton, Manager Policy, on (03) 6169 9514 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’d also love to hear you feedback on the TasCOSS 2020/21 State Budget Briefing. If you’re willing to share your thoughts on what you liked, disliked or suggestions for improving the event, please contact Nic McBride, Manager Communications & Advocacy, on (03) 6169 9107 or email email@example.com.
- View the presentation slides (PDF, 1.06MB) and watch the recording of TasCOSS’s 2020/21 State Budget Briefing at Hadley’s Orient Hotel.
- View the 2020/21 State Budget pre-announcements, including COVID-19 social and economic support measures.
More 2020/21 State Budget analysis and information:
- Read TasCOSS’s 2020/21 State Budget media release
- Read the Treasurer’s 2020/21 State Budget speech
- Read the 2020/21 State Budget papers
- Media: ‘Radically different’: mixed reviews for Gutwein’s pandemic budget (The Examiner, 12/11/20)
- Media: Record $4.3b debt flagged as Tasmania looks to infrastructure remedy for coronavirus-hit state Budget (ABC News, 12/11/20)