Welfare spending stays at 1.8% of GDP

In 1995-96 total spending on welfare services in Australia was $8.9 billion, or 1.8% of Gross Domestic Product. Spending as a proportion of GDP has remained at this level since 1992-93 according to figures released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Welfare Services Expenditure Bulletin No. 3 shows that Government expenditure on welfare services increased to $5,800 million in 1995-96, up 9% or $480 million on the previous year. Client charges also rose by 9%, to $2200 million.

Welfare services include family and child welfare services, child care, aged and disabled welfare services, and a variety of other services such as supported accommodation assistance, but do not include income security payments such as unemployment benefits and pensions.

Of the $8.9 billion total, 65% ($5.8 billion) was funded by governments, 24% ($2.2 billion) by clients and 11% ($0.9 billion) by non-government welfare organisations.

Of the $5.8 billion government welfare services expenditure, 53% came from the Commonwealth, 44% from State and Territory Governments, and the remaining 3% from local governments.

In 1994-95 non-government welfare organisations (NGWOs) were the main providers of welfare services, delivering $4.9 billion worth of services to the community. NGWOs are funded by governments (49%), clients (31%), and their own sources of income (20%).

The Commonwealth Government is a funder rather than a provider of welfare services. In 1994-95, the Commonwealth funded $2.8 billion, but only delivered $292 million worth of welfare services.

In contrast, the States and Territories are both funders of services ($2.4 billion) and providers of services ($2.2 billion). Per person welfare services expenditure by State and Territory Governments in 1995-96 varied from $72 per person in Queensland to $231 in Tasmania, with a national average of $134.

Other findings of the study include:

  • Over 60% of Commonwealth recurrent outlays and 50% of State and Territory funds were allocated to services for the aged and people with a disability.
  • Family and child welfare services received 31% of total Commonwealth welfare services recurrent outlays, and 33% of State and Territory recurrent outlays.


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