Federal budget 2017-18: What it means for not-for-profits

by Kerryn Burgess - May 10, 2017

We've combed the budget papers for spending that will affect not-for-profits and community groups. Here's what we found.


  • $63.1 million over four years (including $4.8 million in capital) for the Department of the Treasury to establish the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC). The NHFIC will operate an affordable housing bond aggregator. The function of the bond aggregator is to provide cheaper and longer term finance for community housing providers by aggregating their borrowing requirements and issuing bonds to the wholesale market at a lower cost and longer tenor than bank finance.

  • $10.2 million over 10 years to partner with State and Territory Governments to trial the use of Social Impact Investments to fund programs aimed at improving housing and welfare outcomes for young people at risk of homelessness. The trial would target priority groups, including those supported by specialist homelessness services, exiting the out-of-home care system or exiting institutions such as juvenile detention.

  • $6 million over four years toward the national rollout of the Homes for Homes initiative, which has been established by The Big Issue to encourage property vendors to donate 0.1 per cent of the sale proceeds of their property to fund social and affordable housing projects across Australia.

The government will also expand tax incentives for investments in affordable housing, providing an additional ten percentage points capital gains tax discount to those who invest in qualifying affordable housing. The affordable housing must be managed through a registered community housing provider.

And it will encourage investment into affordable housing by enabling Managed Investment Trusts (MITs) to invest in affordable housing.


The National Disability Insurance Scheme is now fully funded. The money comes from an increase of 0.5 percentage points in the Medicare levy.

The Government will provide $24 million over four years to implement a new framework and funding model for the Disability Employment Services (DES) program from 1 July 2018. This includes funds for a trial to expand DES to a broader group of school leavers with less significant disability, to assist them to successfully transition from school to work.

Family violence

  • $10.7 million over four years to the Family Court of Australia, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Western Australia to employ additional family consultants. The consultants, who include social workers and psychologists, will assist families and the courts where there are allegations of family violence or child abuse.
  • $3.4 million over two years to expand the trial of Domestic Violence Units (DVUs) in legal centres around Australia. The DVUs provide legal and other assistance to women who are experiencing, or at risk of, domestic or family violence.

Legal assistance

  • $55.7 million over three years for legal assistance services, including Community Legal Centres (CLCs) and Indigenous Legal Assistance Providers (ILAPs).
  • $12.7 million over four years to establish Parenting Management Hearings (PMHs) - a new forum for resolving family law disputes between self-represented litigants. This measure also includes additional resourcing for legal aid associated with the PMHs.


  • $30 million over four years to support the broadcast of underrepresented sports on subscription television, including women's sports, niche sports, and sports with a high level of community involvement and participation.
  • $6.1 million over two years to support community radio stations in regional and metropolitan areas across Australia.

Indigenous Australia

  • $52.9 million over four years from 2017-18 to implement a whole-of-government research and evaluation strategy for policies and programs affecting Indigenous Australians, including the establishment of an Indigenous Research Fund.
  • $5.9 million over four years to trial the use of digital applications to improve English literacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
  • $263 million over four years to expand the ParentsNext program, which aims to help young parents in poor areas with work and study options. The expansion will particularly target locations with high proportions of indigenous participants.


The Government will trial random drug testing for welfare recipients, who will face penalties if they test positive.

It will also strengthen penalties for breaching welfare requirements such as attending job interviews. Each failure without a reasonable excuse will result in payment suspension until requirements are met, and accrual of demerit points. People who accrue four demerits in six months will:

  • lose 50 per cent of their fortnightly payment for their first strike
  • lose 100 per cent of their fortnightly payment for their second strike
  • have their payment cancelled for four weeks for their third strike.

Palliative care

  • $8.3 million over three years to provide palliative care services for people who would prefer to be cared for in their homes rather than in a hospital or hospice setting. Funding will be provided through the Primary Health Care Networks.

Medicare and medicines

The Government will establish the Medicare Guarantee Fund (the Fund) as a special account from 1 July 2017 to guarantee the Government's commitment to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) into the future. The Fund will be credited each year with revenue raised from the Medicare levy (excluding amounts to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme).

  • $1 billion over four years for the phased re-introduction of indexation for certain items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). This, along with some new listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schme (PBS), should increase access to bulk-billing and reduce out-of-pocket payments for some services and medicines.
  • $15 million over four years to increase options for people to improve activity levels and healthy lifestyles, including $5 million for GPs to support Australians to achieve a healthy lifestyle through increased physical activity and better nutrition.

Mental health

  • $80 million over four years for psychosocial support services for people with mental illness who do not qualify for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). This funding is contingent on a matching commitment from the States and Territories.
  • $33.5 million over four years from 2017-18 to expand the range of mental health conditions current and former Australian Defence Force members can seek treatment for.
  • $15 million over two years to support research into mental health, including contributing to the National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health (Orygen) for research infrastructure, and the Black Dog and Thompson Institutes for further work on prevention and early intervention.
  • $11.1 million over three years from 2017-18 to help prevent suicide at high risk locations and provide additional support, including $9 million for prevention measures such as barriers, fencing and lighting, and $2.1 million for Lifeline.
  • $9.8 million over three years from 2017-18 to fund pilot programs to improve mental health services for veterans and support suicide prevention efforts.
  • $9.1 million over four years to improve access to psychological services through telehealth in regional, rural and remote Australia. The Government will amend Medicare Benefits Schedule items to allow psychologists to provide video consultations to clients living in eligible regions, improving access and outcomes for people who currently have to travel to access these services. This will mean people living in regional, rural and remote Australia will get the same access to psychologists as those living in major cities.


The Government will provide $1.1 billion over seven years from 2016-17 from the Natural Heritage Trust, including $100 million provided in the 2016-17 MYEFO measure titled Green Army Program - termination, to continue the National Landcare Programme (NLP). The $100 million will be directed towards:

  • $15.0 million for new Indigenous Protected Areas additional to those already declared or already under formal consultation as part of the existing Indigenous Protected Areas Network
  • $85.0 million to support on-ground projects by Landcare groups; support the work of Landcare Australia and the National Landcare Network; and for a Sustainable Agriculture small grants program

Social impact investments

  • $20.2 million over 10 years to encourage the development of the Australian market for social impact investments. This measure includes $8.0 million over four years from 2017-18 to establish a Social Impact Investment Readiness Fund to build capacity in the non-government and private sector to develop social impact investment proposals.


  • $3 million in 2017-18 in capital funding for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) to upgrade ICT systems.