Welfare (community) services spending almost 2% of GDP

In 1996-97 total spending on welfare services was $9.9 billion, or 1.9% of Gross Domestic Product, according to figures released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Welfare Services Expenditure Bulletin No. 4 shows that Government expenditure on welfare services increased to $6.2 billion in 1996-97, up 7.4% on the previous year. Total public sector-funded welfare services cost on average $337 per person.

Of the $9.9 billion worth of welfare services delivered in 1996-97, almost 63% ($6.2 billion) were funded by the government sector. The remainder were funded by clients of the services in the form of fees (26%), and by non-government community service organisations (NGCSOs) (11%).

The bulletin's author, Ms Maneerat Pinyopusarerk, said that in the Welfare Services Expenditure Bulletin welfare services include family and child welfare services, services for aged persons and people with a disability, and a variety of other services such as supported accommodation assistance. They do not include income security payments such as unemployment benefits and pensions.

Ms Pinyopusarerk said that of the $6.2 billion government welfare services expenditure in 1996-97, 52% was funded by the Commonwealth, 46% by State and Territory Governments, and the remaining 2% by local governments. 'The Commonwealth Government is mainly a funder rather than a provider of welfare services-although it funded $3.2 billion worth of services, it delivered only $339 million worth of welfare services.'

'Non-government community service organisations delivered $6 billion worth of services to the community and are the main welfare service providers. Funding for these organisations comes from governments (47%), clients (35%), and their own sources of income (19%).'

The national average funding per person for welfare services provided by State and Territiory Governments in 1996-97 was $145, ranging from $75 in Queensland to $213 in the Northern Territory. Ms Pinyopusarerk said that the differences are due to differences in historical development and in demographic structure.

Other findings of Welfare Expenditure Bulletin No. 4 include:

  • Almost 60% of Commonwealth recurrent outlays and 56% of State and Territory funds were allocated to services for the aged and people with a disability.
  • Family and child care services received 35% of total Commonwealth welfare services recurrent outlays, and 33% of State and Territory recurrent outlays.


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