The Honourable Curtis Pitt MP, Treasurer, Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, spoke about the state budget and how it will impact on the community service sector at the QCOSS State Budget Breakfast on 17 July.

Transcript

David's so, so much taller than I am. You can't tell how tall he is on radio that's what I do love.

Firstly can I acknowledge that we're meeting on the land of Aboriginal people and pay my respects to elders past and present we are very fortunate in this country to have two of the world's oldest continuing living cultures in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people two unique cultures whose lands and borders we all now share.

Can I acknowledge Leeanne Enoch my cabinet colleague Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Science and Innovation as well as Coralee O'Rourke Minister for Disability Services, Minister for Seniors Minister assisting the Premier on North Queensland and as you've heard the Minister for Communities and Child Safety, Shannon Fentiman is unable to be here today.

I also acknowledge the Shadow Minister Tracy Davis. Where are you Tracy? Tracy and I have sort of dovetailed each other in various things. I was the Minister and she was the Shadow Minister to me, then she became the Minister, then she's Shadow again. That's what happens in politics at work none of us are not long for the high jump it seems at any given time. So the one thing I know she is a passionate advocate so good to see you Tracy.

I also would acknowledge of course Mark Henley, QCOSS board members and also Michael Hogan, Director-General. Welcome one and all.

Well as you've heard this week has been a busy week and I was very proud of course to be given the opportunity to deliver the first budget for the Palaszczuk government and of course I'm also proud to be here this morning to speak with all of you.

We know for more than fifty years QCOSS has been one of the most significant voices for social change in our State. QCOSS and all of its member organisations play a crucial role in building social and economic well-being for all Queenslanders and you and your organisations stand up for Queenslanders who otherwise may struggle to be heard or struggle to stand up for themselves and to be their voice to be advocating tirelessly with the goal of making Queensland a better place for all.

We want to be a more caring state a more inclusive state. A state where optimism isn't just a slogan it's a given. I'm proud to be here because certainly I know the Palaszczuk government shares the same values as QCOSS and its member organisations.

You may have heard I did some radio as you heard from David on Wednesday morning and yes I was attacked by the security gates.  I certainly was told to go through that gate it wasn't the usual gate but that was the gate and the coffee did go everywhere and there was a television camera in there as well of course that television camera had to very carefully looked at the dovetailed and gaffer taped jacket which was covering up the coffee stains and no-one knew anything until now.

So thanks very much David but what I would say is that I was asked a question about a line in my speech. And he asked me, I said the line in my speech was that I'm a Treasurer who actually likes people. Now it wasn't aimed at any one person I think it was potentially a bit of a broadside across the other side of politics and it could be seen that way.

But what it is, is that as you heard my portfolio backgrounds have included Human Services and including the portfolio of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships. And I just want to say the reason I'm the Treasurer and I still have that portfolio is I was fortunate enough to hold it in the previous government and from my perspective it's always been one of the most important portfolios in government and it was always with a junior minister because I was that junior minister. And I said if I was ever a more senior minister I'd love to be able to continue to take the portfolio with me. Not necessarily knowing I was going to be the Treasurer but now that I am the combination of that portfolio mixed with Employment, of course and the Treasury role there is no accident there because it obviously is a chance to make a number things happen so and it's something I'm very passionate about.

I'm married to Aboriginal woman a Kuku Yalanji woman from Far North Queensland and I'm the proud father of three Aboriginal children.  So I don't need to feign interest in the area and it's something that I'm very, very proud of.

So I guess from our perspective the budget and we have to understand that we live in an economy but the economy is just part of the overall framework of where we live. Economy is a simple description of our circumstances and of course the finances are a tool to build our community and people must always be seen as more than simply a number. Our most valuable economic assets are simply our people and our communities. And these of course are the values that are reflected in this first budget.

It is a budget with a strong focus on lifting people out of disadvantage and advancing social inclusion. We recognise that the government any government has the ability to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable Queenslanders this is beyond just preparing in providing essential services for health or education. We need to give people the opportunity to move out of poverty and disadvantage and as a member of the Labor government I recognise that many people need more than just opportunity.

So this is a budget that reaches out a helping hand in rather than simply saying you're on your own and we're doing that with a 6.5 per cent increase in funding for communities, child safety and disabilities.

I'll step you through some of the components of that funding today. We've guaranteed $233 million in pensioner concessions for the next four years. These are concessions for essential services such as power, water, rates and vehicle registration. These are concessions that sadly were stripped away by the federal government and they certainly weren't an after-thought these concessions are guaranteed in the budget.

This budget supports the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This is one of the most fundamental social reforms of this generation. It's a Labor initiative that I have long supported. Queensland deserves a launch site and to ensure that we of course are ready to participate in the NDIS from 1 July next year. Funding has been set aside for the launch which is going to enable up to 600 people with a disability to progressively commence access to reasonable and necessary supports in preparation for NDIS.

Families will be supported in this budget as well the 6.6 million dollars over two years to deliver an innovative program of parenting support. The Triple P positive parenting program will include a state wide free service for these courses which is about providing face to face and online trying to help improve parenting skills. Not telling people how to be parents but asking them have they considered these options because all of us and I know I'm the father of three children, a six-year-old, a four-year-old and a two-year-old and yes my wife is a saint, and that's certainly something that anyone will at any stage in their parenthood require some support, require a new way of doing things in particular as they become teenagers. And I'm not there yet but I'm sure plenty of you could give me some great advice as well.

Tenants are going to be supported in this budget. There's $26.4 million provided to reinstate the tenancy advisory service and make sure that tenants get a fair go and have access to independent advice about their rights and what can happen with their role as a tenant.

We realise there are many Queenslanders who are doing it tough that's always the case but of course sometimes it's difficult to make things work in terms of the household budget. That's why we're committing $16.5 million in Queensland's financial resilience program. Now this is a program that's about giving people the tools and enabling people again to help cope with financial stress including things like personal budgeting and cost of living pressures.

Now there are a range of other things government can do but sometimes some of the things are right in front of people who just have never otherwise been given that opportunity or given the tools and so we will do whatever we can to arm people with all of the things they need to help them and their family.

We are providing record spending in the very important key state government service areas of health and education and this includes in health 400 nurse navigators. In an increasingly complex health system that we have many people especially seniors and people with a disability can find our health system very confusing.

And nurse navigators will help patients navigate their way through the health system.  I was over at the PA hospital yesterday morning and I met a couple of the volunteers there and they've been working there respectively for 10 years and fourteen years so it was a fair bit of experience but they're the original navigators if you like. People who volunteer their time and of course hospitals themselves just the building alone they're big places.

So we do need people to help navigate the way around and ensure that people understand where to go so that they don't miss an appointment they may have waited some time for. And that's also important. It's about finding the right doctor and finding the right service.

And it's about also focusing in the health system on the patient's journey right through that system rather than just on one specific component. And we've put more money into preventative health programs to help people before they get into hospital. These programs will see us partnering with peak bodies to deliver dynamic and proven preventative health programs and that's of course particularly focusing on those high-risk areas like diabetes and very similar types of diseases that we can do something about if we arrest it at an early stage.

In education this budget delivers 875 extra teachers to help lower class sizes. It includes 275 specialist high school teachers. In addition 45 new guidance counsellors are going to be helping to give young people more career advice and support generally to navigate what is a post school job market which can at the best of times be difficult.

Now all these measures are aimed at keeping young people in school and keeping them on track towards a positive future. We're stepping in to maintain the funding required to keep 10 Indigenous children and family centres open throughout the state despite again some contractions there in the Commonwealth funding that we saw in the May budget.

One of the things I'm very proud about in this budget is the centrepiece which is the $1.6 billion Working Queensland jobs plan. It's about delivering jobs now, and jobs for the future and you will hear that phrase a lot and yes I understand that some people may become cynical after a while because it's something that we will be saying.

We're saying it for a reason. It does much about jobs now as a very large capital and building program and a whole range of things happening in the hospital and health system and schools in terms of maintenance. But it is also about jobs of the future.

Now we're going to be spending jobs now $240 million over four years on the Skilling Queenslanders for work program. Now many people would be aware that this is a very successful program which I don't think was given it dues and was prematurely cut short a couple years ago.

We know that for every dollar spent through that program thanks to an independent report it was telling government that it was returning about eight dollars to the Queensland economy. To get that sort of return on investment in almost any aspect whether it's government or otherwise is extraordinary. So we know that it is a program that has great value and we think it's going to be helping a number of people.

It's going to be looking at helping around 32,000 Queenslanders get back into work and I've been asked a question about the unemployment rate a few times and I'm sure I'll get a question about that today but I'll just say that the forecasts that you see from Treasury are the forecasts in the budget.

We're aiming to do better than that but what we know is that its programs like this working in partnership of course then with the private sector to help give those opportunities and this program is about giving people again the opportunity to either upskill or retool to get back into the workforce and we know just how valuable that can be in a competitive job market.

We've also put aside $34.5 to restore TAFE Queensland to its rightful place as the pre-eminent vocational and education trainer in this State. Many of you will have seen headlines in the budget around some specific measures and I'll talk to some of these now.

Measures I think that whilst some of these don't actually get as much attention there are some other elements of the budget which may have been missed by some people but they do have certainly an impact on the lives of  vulnerable people in our State.

So earlier this year the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was handed the Not Now, Not Ever report into domestic violence. Now former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce who authored the report described it as shocking almost half of all homicides in Queensland are the result of domestic violence. The Palaszczuk government has put aside $31.3 million over four years to implement a preliminary response to the report and of the key measures, and I think this is a fascinating one, and I'm learning more about it myself. It's about implementing a specialist domestic violence court within the Southport Magistrates Court to handle these cases.

Now so the court already hears forty and fifty domestic violence cases a day so we don't want anyone who is suffering domestic violence to get lost in the very court system which is actually meant to be there to support them. Of course when victims of domestic violence are courageous enough to speak out against abuse and take the matter to court we want to make sure that they have the services they need to support them.

We also of course know that this scourge of domestic violence is one of the most prevalent things in our community and I certainly acknowledge that the previous government commenced the review. It had all party support and it's absolutely appropriate that we are seeing such a strong response to the report and this is only the beginning. We'll also be delivering as part of that process two new 72-hour crisis shelters one in Brisbane and one in Townsville and as an integrated service response working with many of QCOSS's member organisations.

So we've continued funding close to $55 million to continue implementing the recommendations of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry and these initiatives are aimed at transforming the family and parenting support and child protection systems to provide support earlier to get improved outcomes for children and families.

We want to dramatically cut down on the number of children and families in our system,  in our child protection system, and close the gap of course in terms of the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in that system.

When I said in the media many times that this was going to be a budget about innovation I certainly wasn't just talking about our Advance Queensland strategy and I don't have enough time to talk to you about that strategy today but it's one that will have albeit maybe a more indirect relationship to some parts of what the sector represented is here today.

But I was also talking about balance sheet reforms that will see us help pay down $9.2 billion dollars in debt over the next four years. But that's not the sort of innovation I wanted to speak to you about today. I wanted to talk to you about those areas I think where we must look at new ways of doing things and not leaving any stone unturned in terms of trying to combat disadvantage and that's why we announced a trial of social benefit bonds.

Now we want to look at new and innovative approaches this is about addressing the very complex social and economic challenges. We've announced two million dollars to help pilot three social benefit bonds. Again, these are very complex areas, areas of homelessness reoffending of course, looking also at Indigenous disadvantage.

Let me be really clear because I think there has been some miscommunication. These social benefit bonds are about sourcing new funds, for new service delivery, for additional outcome based programs and this is particularly aimed at intervention in these very complex areas.

A social benefit bond for homelessness could help some of the 43,000  Queenslanders who've received specialist homelessness services this year. A social benefit bond on reoffending for the 66 per cent of our prisoners this is not their first time in jail and we're committed to looking at new ways of course to reintegrate people released from prison through employment accommodation and mental health support. Of course a social benefit bond looking at Indigenous disadvantage, looking at ways to improve school attendance.

It may even have an out of home care focus. And of course addressing the situation where Indigenous adult Queenslanders are sadly 11 times more likely to be in prison and be in our criminal justice system than non-Indigenous Queenslanders. These are all complex issues and they are tough areas for government and the non-government organisations to work through so we must find ways to address these very important areas.

It's my view that social benefit bonds will complement and certainly not compete with, existing services that are directed towards these areas. And funding is provided for money, will be money over and above all of the existing programs which of course will continue as they have done before.

These are about these bonds are about working with the non-government sector to tackle social challenges that I think otherwise would not have received these funds or not in the same way and there is a body of evidence nationally and internationally that suggests that social benefit bonds can actually help to tackle these very complex challenges. So through this model up-front funds will be provided to private providers, to these investors.

They're going to be for funding a service provider and achieving positive outcomes for a particular issue. Now what happens is a return is paid by government to investors when the contracted outcomes are demonstrated by agreed measures. So what this is about is paying for results paying for outcomes, actual outcomes, and this will of course free up service providers to explore different ways of achieving those better results.

It's important that this initiative is going to be in addition again to existing arrangements with service providers right across Queensland and we understand that this is a new approach and we understand that of course whenever there is a new approach it is going to be met with some caution and it's going to mean of course it's also about the sector building its readiness to deliver these services under this new model. So a readiness fund of $1 million will be made available to shortlisted service providers and this will be part of the co-design phase of social benefit bond development.

The readiness fund is designed to help non-government organisations to develop the capacity and the capability to participate. Social investment strategies have been implemented with success in other parts of Australia and internationally. What we must do is we must learn from others' experiences and we of course need to try and improve on them as well.

So as I say, a different approach to service delivery but one that we can learn a lot more about and that includes going forward with the trials and we'll certainly of course be speaking with stakeholders in much more detail about it. But I'm taking a very open mind and as I said being a former Minister in Human Services a frustration of mine was that sometimes we couldn't address things that I think we otherwise might have if we'd approached it from another direction.

So what we want to do is we want to continue working with QCOSS, with member organisations and about achieving real outcomes and real benefits for individuals and families. Together I think we can provide that helping hand to those who need it most.

I know that everyone in this room are dedicated hard working people who are looking to have a better community and a better society and to help the most vulnerable people in that community and that society. You're all people with a genuine concern for people and it's hard work and dedication that you bring to your roles each and every day which of course is about making that difference.

So our job is about making that possible and the budget has gone some way towards that but the hard work certainly is not done. The budget is just the line in the sand for this government, to tell people who we are, what our values are and what we plan on delivering for Queensland.

So I guess from my perspective there's a lot of lead up to the budget. It's about a two-month sprint to get to the Tuesday budget speech and then I find out the real work starts. But from my perspective there is a good story to tell in this budget, it's a budget that does do what it aims to do and that is make a better Queensland.

I thank you for your time today and it's terrific to be here with all of you.

Thank you.

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