Energy rebates, cheaper medicines, extra assistance for renters, tax cuts and a budget surplus of $9.3 billion were key features of the federal budget delivered by Treasurer Dr Chalmers last Tuesday.

The budget includes $6.2 billion in new housing measures, with $1.9 billion to build 40,000 new social and affordable homes.

A new national online mental health service is also pencilled in for 2026, giving up to 10 free sessions annually for “low intensity” issues, while a $3bn medicines package will freeze prices of prescriptions.

Another key measure focused on boosting the country’s manufacturing capabilities under a $22.7 billion Future Made in Australia fund.

The fund is earmarked to boost investment from the private sector to key areas in Australian industry.

Faye Spiteri, CEO at Greek aged-care Fronditha Care wants a “system that focuses on a whole of ageing service delivery approach. Photo: Supplied

Kosmo Samaras, Director at RedBridge Group Australia and former campaign director for Labor Victoria said that the Future Made in Australia policy “is easily the stand-out announcement from the federal budget”.

“Australians have complex views about the current inflationary crisis and don’t think one single measure will address the problem.

“However, they want to see a vision for the country that, according to them, has been missing for decades. If sold well, this policy may be what everyone is looking for,” Samaras told Neos Kosmos.

The budget has committed $2.2 billion to deliver the recommendations from the royal commission on aged care. The tranche of money will go to improve service promises and access to 24,000 new home care places for older Australians and to support them staying in their own house rather than entering aged care.

The government will also set up 29 new Medicare urgent care clinics, freeze increases to prescription medicines and give the states $882m for programs for older patients staying long-term in hospitals.

Kosmo Samaras, Director at RedBridge Group Australia – Future Made in Australia policy “is easily the stand-out announcement from the Federal Budget”

Faye Spiteri, CEO at aged-care provider Fronditha Care, told Neos Kosmos that more than “the quantum of the money that is being allocated to improving aged care services” is to redesign a “system that focuses on a whole of ageing service delivery approach and is inclusive of dementia and palliative care”.

“Fronditha Care welcomes the investment in home care packages and the significant boost for workforce development, ensuring that those who work in aged care are appropriately trained and remunerated.

“We commend the government for focusing on aged care and investing in supporting the sector’s ability to meet the reform challenges,” Spiteri said.

More than $800 million will also be spent on mental health support packages, headlined by a free digital support program for 155,000 people per year.

Australians will be able to access services for mental health help without a referral under the package, which will be up and running by January 2026.

Chair of the Federated Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA), Carlo Carli. Photo: Supplied

The Chair of the Federated Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA), Carlo Carli, a former Victorian state minister, welcomed measures in the budget that he said provide essential support to address ongoing “national challenges such as the cost of living, housing shortages, and family and domestic violence”.

“Each measure is vital for Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

“This year’s budget announces the commitment to allow 185,000 permanent migrants, with 70 per cent allocated to the skilled migration program.

“This initiative aligns with FECCA’s goals to enhance the integration of a skilled workforce into Australia, which is particularly beneficial during times of global uncertainty,” said Carli.

The FECCA head acknowledged the support for mental health and suicide prevention; however, it emphasised “the importance of ensuring that these resources reach the communities most in need, including those within multicultural sectors”.