Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Budget 2014... What a crock!!!

4 Years ago we moved to SA from Tasmania to make our life better. I gave up a well paid government job to allow my husband his opportunity to fly and became a SAHM (stay at home mum). Unfortunately, after 18 months his position was dissolved, this all happened 1 week after our youngest daughter was born. We were not aware at the time that she was going to be extremely unwell, a very sick little girl indeed. We are now raising 6 children, 5 with additional needs, most were not foreseeable until they were well into their school years and not predictable - autism, severe and rare allergy, immune and gastro related.   I don't usually talk openly about our finances and the struggles we have to make ends meet, but last nights budget has been feeling I need to share our story. 

My husbands and my income combined is $36k/yr.  This is INCLUDING centrelink payments and allowances. Things are tight.  We get by with strict budgeting, menu planning and forgoing lifes little luxuries in order to give our children the best life possible.  We don't drink, or smoke... we don't party, go out for movies or meals or buy takeaway... even if we wanted to it just can't work like that on our budget...  The last time my husband and I went out was almost 6 years ago when we were both working back in Tasmania!!!

Budget 2014...
cutting the value in our domestic dollars by not adjusting
welfare and family support in line with the GDP or cost of living

We are apparently going to be losing around $2000 according to one of the newspapers ready reckoner and that is NOT including our childrens multiple medical appointments, medications and fuel to take them to their appointments (many being a 1000km round trip to the major cities) Yes, we are sooooooo feeling the love - NOT!

So I thought I should try and break down exactly what we are losing, what we are gaining (if anything) and try to quell the rising panic that is infiltrating us from the general community.

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Previously the Family Tax Benefit B extended to families with children under 18; that will now be cut off for families where the youngest child is six or older.  This effects 3 of our children, 4 in October when Mr D turns 6 years old.  We will now have a reduction of FTB which is paid to us fortnightly and reckoned at the end of the financial year.

All family benefits will also remain on hold until either 2016 or 2017, resulting in a loss of income in real terms, as it will no longer take into account increases in inflation. So the cost of living will increase, but the government benefits wont.  Meaning we will be living with increased expenses and having to simply tighten the belts even further as the value in our domestic dollar decreases :/

Families will also be hit by increases in the petrol excise – which will now be indexed to inflation every six months.  The estimate I have seen floating around is a minimum increase of 1c/ltr per year minumum.  Considering we have several trips into town for medical appointments, and then trips to Adelaide and Melbourne (which are 1000km round trips) this small increase which really does sound tiny is going to end up biting us hard at the bowser.

Families will be negatively affected by the introduction of a GP co-payment of $7 ($5 of which the Government will take), for the first 10 visits to the GP per year ($70). After 10 visits patients with concession cards and children under 16 will be exempt from the fee.
Ok, yes, we have a low income healthcare card.  Unfortunately doctors don't consider this to be a concession card - that is only reserved for pension cards.  So My husband and myself will be paying the current gap in payments to see the doctor as well as an additional $7.  This means for us to see a doctor it will be $22 up front for the shortest appointment.  Should the appointment be deemed a longer one these fees increase.  Our eldest son will also be paying this as of June when he turns 16 years of age. As for the children covered by an "amnesty" after 10 visits... it still means if we all get sick, it is $7 EACH to see the dr.  We all get a virus, but need it checked, lets say after Mr A's birthday it will be $66 for the "grown ups" and then $35 for the children to be seen and checked.  So in total $101 for us all to walk through the medical centres doors for a virus.  Should it be anything that required medications then it will be another deeper dig into our pockets.  I don't know if it is a good or a bad thing that Miss A will reach the 10 visit limit without too much of an issue as such...  but it's going to be difficult to find an additional $70 per child and stow it away just in case they need to see a doctor in the future - this is on top of private health insurance and years of paying taxes, medicare levys etc etc etc....

Hospitals will also be allowed to charge for visits to emergency rooms by patients with ailments that only require a visit to a GP. So, you get sick here on a weekend and the doctor surgery isn't open and we are instructed to go to the hospital... we now have to pay.  you go to the hospital thinking you are having a heart attack but it's only indigestion? leave your co-payment at the door before you leave...  We take Miss A into hospital with bleeding from the bowel which the hospital here deem as not an emergency and voila, we are stuck with a bill for treatment for something that other hospitals and doctors have advised us must be attended to at a hospital.  It really makes one think twice about getting medical assistance, especially if the budgets are tight enough that that co-payment isn't sitting there in the wallet "just in case"

Medicines on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme will also be more expensive, with patients paying a $5 fee – or 80 cents for those on concession cards.  This is on top of the added costs to see the doctor in the first place :/

And then something that concerns us for the future, is the fact universities are no longer receiving certain fundings and can set their own fees now in order to recoup the lost financial backing from the government.  With 3 children looking to further education, one about to commence his journey into the final years at high school and planning a university education this is really scary.  There aren't any real facts about this at this stage as no one knows what fees and courses will be effected, or what this will mean for university placements.  HECS is also changing with higher interest and re-paying with an lower repayment threshold. 
I know there are other things that will apparently effect us, but are in the small print.  Things like the axing of the school bonus payments and cost cutting in regards to disability funding and services.
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I'm trying to find a silver lining.  There is no way that I can leave my children to go out and work full time. I am however trying to start my own photography business so I can work around my husbands work and our childrens appointments. My husband has been looking around for another full time job in a regional town where employment is on the downturn and moving is not an option due to our teenage daughters mental illness and her psychologist claiming she is at risk with another move, even if it is to search of suitable employment. Basically, we are struggling, and really are trying to be positive and look for other options. Without our strict budget, no luxuries other than the internet and mobile phones (which are necessary as we need to maintain contact with out support networks, family back in Tasmania and for our researching options and possible breakthroughs and diagnosis in our childrens health) menu planning and layering appointments to save on fuel and time we would not be able to survive as it is... to take further cuts and increase expenses with our appointments and medications is going to really push up to the wall...

So budget 2014.. this is our "breakdown", it doesn't cover everything but it does look like we will be negatively effected.  We are not the "average" family by any means, but we are a family who are hurting and who are raising 6 beautiful members of the community. 6 Future voters. 6 Children who still need nurturing, education and decent healthcare... 

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