The Government has appointed former Minister for Health and current Chair of VicHealth, Nicola Roxon, as the new Chair of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), as the Institute’s two-yearly report on the wellbeing of Australia shows a mixed recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Australia’s Welfare 2023 pulls together information from a range of datasets and existing AIHW reports every two years to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the wellbeing of Australia.
While Australians benefit from record high employment and continued flexibility to work from home, the report confirms that the global cost-of-living shock is having a profound impact on household budgets, housing stress and psychological distress – particularly for young Australians.
The AIHW report confirms the Albanese Government’s focus on bringing down inflation and delivering cost of living relief to Australians. Last month, National Cabinet agreed to A Better Deal for Renters, which will limit rent increases and strengthen renters’ rights across Australia.
In September, the Albanese Government delivers the largest increase to rent assistance in 30 years along with an increase to Jobseeker payments and expansion of the Single Parent Payment.
These cost-of-living measures build on other supports that took effect in July, including cheaper childcare for 1.2 million families and energy price relief for 5 million households and 1 million small businesses.
The health and hip pocket of millions of Australians will also soon be improved by the largest investment in bulk billing in the history of Medicare and cheaper medicines with 60-day prescriptions, allowing millions of Australians with ongoing health conditions to buy twice the medication for the cost of a single prescription.
Ms Roxon will Chair the AIHW as the Institute builds on its important legacy as Australia’s authoritative source of health and welfare data and analysis.
Since retiring from Parliament in 2013, Ms Roxon has had a distinguished career as a non-executive director on ASX-listed, private and not-for-profit bodies. She is currently Chair of VicHealth and the health and community services superannuation fund HESTA.
Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:
“The AIHW report shows the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to linger, as the global cost of living shock hits household budgets.
“The Albanese Government is delivering cost of living relief through cheaper childcare, cheaper medicines, more bulk billing, energy price relief, a better deal for renters and more affordable housing.
“I am delighted that Nicola Roxon has accepted my invitation to Chair the AIHW Board. Nicola brings considerable experience to the role as a former Minister for Health where she led significant reform including the world-first introduction of tobacco plain packaging.
“I thank Dr Erin Lalor for her time as acting Chair, and Louise Markus, the former Chair, who led the AIHW Board through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have also appointed Dr Walid Jammal as a member of the AIHW Board for five years. Dr Jammal is an experienced GP with a strong interest in men’s health, paediatrics and safety and quality in general practice.”
Quotes attributable to Minister Rishworth:
“This report highlights the crucial role that data plays in delivering evidence-informed policy. By identifying those most in need we can make sure that our policies and programs are targeted to the individuals, families and communities most in need.
“This includes, for the first time, identifying the impact of Government policy on people’s wellbeing. We are also providing cost-of-living relief for people in financial distress, including energy bill relief, increased eligible working age and student payments, support for eligible disability workers, increased bulk billing and cheaper medicines.
“We know that cost of living pressures are bearing heavily on many individuals and families. That’s why we are addressing what we call the drivers of distress – responding not just through mental health support but working to alleviate the underlying pressures in people's lives.”