MYAN Australia Responds to the 2024 Federal Budget

Republished from MYAN Australia’s release originally published here.

Continued investment in youth settlement support welcome news…but where is the relief for multicultural young people who already call Australia home? 

The Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) Australia, the national voice for young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds, has reviewed the 2024 Australian Federal Budget announced by the Australian Government on Tuesday.

While there are several positive initiatives, including the continued funding of Youth Transition Support Services, a revised approach to the indexation of student loans, and more rental support, MYAN believes the budget presents a piecemeal response to the broader, cross-cutting issues facing young migrants amidst a severe cost-of-living crisis. The measures introduced to address this are fragmented and do not constitute a cohesive strategy to effectively lift young people out of financial hardship.

Budgets are not just numbers on a page; they present an important opportunity for the government to lay out its priorities for the coming year, and demonstrate what it cares about. For many people, budget night is a pivotal moment—a time to scrutinise, to question, and to understand how the decisions made at the highest level will impact their lives directly.

Rana Ebrahimi, MYAN’s National Manager stated,

The budget is also an important indicator for the young people we work with, who are looking to see whether their voices are being heard, and if their needs, aspirations, and potential are being recognised and prioritised. They are likely to feel that in this regard, the budget has fallen short this year.

In the context of a worsening housing, mental health, and cost-of-living crisis for young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds, MYAN is particularly concerned at the issue of inequity in this year’s budget.

Carmel Guerra OAM, MYAN Chair commented, 

“A budget surplus might seem like a positive indicator of economic stability, but it is overshadowed by the lack of increases to income support for those in desperate need. As a nation, we should be doing more to provide access to robust support measures for our most vulnerable community members.”

“While the budget does include certain beneficial measures, which we welcome, it unfortunately missed a crucial chance to offer essential support to young people, particularly those from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Many are currently facing significant challenges such as high living costs, escalating educational expenses, and uncertain job security, all compounded by global instability.”

Noteworthy Federal Budget measures impacting young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds


Net overseas migration is forecast to halve to 260,000 in 2024-2025. While MYAN is pleased to see there is no planned reduction in the number of refugee and humanitarian entrants planned for 2024-25, with places to remain at 20,000, the Government will set the cap for next financial year’s permanent migration program at 185,000 places, with 132,200 of those places being allocated to skill stream. This limits more permanent places to people who fit Australia’s longer-term skills needs. The number of places for international students is also being capped, the details to be determined through negotiations with universities. MYAN is concerned that the decision to cap the permanent migration program and limit places for international students could significantly impact the positive benefits of family reunification, a process vital for the emotional and psychological well-being of young people, and potential future skill shortages which could impact Australia’s long-term economic growth and innovation.

Refugee Settlement Support

We welcome news that refugee settlement support services will see additional funding of $120.9 million over five years to enhance the sustainability of services for settling in and foster improved economic and social results for refugees and migrants. We particularly welcome news of continued investment in Youth Transition Support Services, the commitment of which plays a crucial role in supporting young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds as they navigate their way into employment and education. The announcement of specialised support for refugee and migrant women experiencing domestic and family violence as part of the Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) Program is particularly welcomed, including $16.5 million over five years from 2023–24 to continue to provide legal assistance for temporary visa holders leaving a violent relationship.

MYAN welcomes the announcement of support for the continuation of conversational English classes in Community Hubs, enhancing our collective efforts to support the positive settlement of newly-arrived migrants into the community. The establishment of the Administrative Review Tribunal is also welcome, as it will streamline the resolution of significant migration-related legal backlogs, noting that the tribunal must prioritise these people who have been let down by the system to date.

We acknowledge the Australian Government’s efforts in the 2024-25 Federal Budget to support refugee settlement and assist those displaced by the ongoing wars in Gaza and Ukraine. The decision to maintain the Refugee and Humanitarian Program at 20,000 places, along with an allocation of $120.9 million over five years to enhance support for newly-arrived refugees, is commendable. Additionally, the specific allocations of $2.9 million for emergency assistance and Medicare access for individuals fleeing Gaza, and $1.9 million for Medicare for Ukrainians on bridging visas, are crucial steps forward.

However, while we welcome these positive developments in settlement services, we are concerned that the major portion of the Department of Home Affairs’ budget continues to prioritise Border Enforcement, with over $2 billion allocated annually. This highlights a continued emphasis on enforcement over engagement and support, an area we hope will see more balanced funding in the future.

Education and Employment

The announcement of funding to establish a National Student Ombudsman from 1 February 2025 to allow higher education students to escalate complaints regarding the administrative actions of their education provider and measures to prevent migrant worker exploitation, coupled with the funding to support migrants to access education on workplace rights, demonstrates a positive commitment to fairness and equity in education and employment sectors and advancement in protecting the rights and dignity of all workers. However, we were disappointed to see that despite ongoing conversations on potentially establishing educational pathways for refugees akin to those working in other countries, the proposed Refugee Student Settlement Pathway did not receive any funding in the 2024-25 Budget.

MYAN Australia is pleased to acknowledge the government’s recent decision to adjust the indexation of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) debt. This adjustment is a crucial development that reflects an understanding of the significant impact of educational debt on the financial stability and future opportunities of young people. We would encourage the Federal Government to continue taking measures to address this by increasing the payment threshold for compulsory payments and capping the indexation rate in order to provide students greater certainty, and more broadly look at the increases in the cost of university education that have led to significant increases in student debt.

Payments for students undertaking compulsory work placements across teaching, nursing, midwifery and social work disciplines as recommended by the Australian Universities Accord panel, is another important action to ease increasing financial pressures facing students, though we are disappointed that this payment does not reflect minimum wage, does not cover all compulsory vocational placements including youth work, and is not accessible to international students.

While these announcements are a positive development, further measures are required to implement comprehensive solutions that can relieve the cross-cutting financial burdens on students and graduates, ensuring that higher education remains accessible and sustainable for all young people living in Australia in order to meet the Treasurer’s aspirations of having 8/10 equipped with a university degree by 2050.

Health and wellbeing

We are pleased to see that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is here to stay but it is unclear what the future looks like for participants, and encourage the government to commit to co-designing the future of the program with NDIS participants including young people from diverse backgrounds.

The budget includes increased funding for mental health services, which aims to expand access to support for individuals across the country including $29.7 million to improve child and youth mental health services through uplifting workforce capability and co-designing new models of care. A further $7.1 million has been allocated to building and supporting the lived experience peer mental health workforce and the implementation of a free new digital mental health service. This allocation of funding towards community-based mental health services and online mental health support platforms can help in providing more comprehensive and accessible care but fall short of meeting the growing need for accessible, cost-effective and culturally-responsive mental health services that young people need. This could particularly impact young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds who often face greater barriers to accessing mental health services.

Concerningly, there is nothing in the budget to address racism and discrimination. Aside from the significant and well-documented negative impact of racism and discrimination on the health and well-being of young people, there are compelling economic reasons for governments to invest in combating racism. The lack of investment in human rights within the Federal Budget stands out as a glaring omission, especially given the current global climate, and undermines the critical foundation necessary for all effective anti-racism initiatives.

Cost-of-living relief

While the budget does offer some relief for the ongoing cost-of-living pressures including the first back-to-back increase to the Commonwealth Rent Assistance in more than 30 years and vital measures to provide crisis and transitional accommodation to support youth and women and children escaping violence, the budget’s underinvestment in vital support services such as public housing and income support severely impacts young people.

MYAN is concerned that the budget falls short of addressing the systemic challenges at hand during a cost-of-living crisis that continues to disproportionately impact young people, particularly those from migrant backgrounds. The decision to maintain Youth Allowance payments at just $45 per day will keep vulnerable young people in deep poverty, continuing to hinder their educational and employment prospects, limit their access to safe and stable housing, and restrict their ability to meet the most basic of needs. Further, there is no new funding to address the current youth homelessness crisis or dedicated measures to address social housing for young people, and no measures to stabilise rents to make it easier to save for a house deposit, noting as well that rental affordability has found that all rental properties are unaffordable on Youth Allowance.

We remain deeply concerned for the people seeking asylum who are living in poverty in our community as a result of calculated and short-sighted policy decisions by current and previous governments that prevent them from being able to adequately support themselves and their families while they access their legal right to seek protection. The lack of adequate budgetary support for people seeking asylum not only undermines their ability to sustain themselves and their families but also contradicts the fundamental human rights principles that our community stands for.

It is imperative that our budget reflects our commitment to supporting every member of our community, especially those who are in most need of vital safety nets.

Call to Action:

While the 2024 Federal Budget makes certain positive strides, much remains to be done. We urge an immediate review and revision of the current budget allocations to more effectively address the escalating cost-of-living crisis that disproportionately affects our nation’s younger population. We are deeply concerned about the long-term impacts this crisis poses on the potential and prosperity of young Australians.

We propose a strategic redirection of budget funds towards comprehensive supports for young people including targeted approaches for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to access safe and affordable housing, early-intervention mental health support, and immediate and practical cost-of-living relief. Investing in young people in the very foundation of our country’s future.

MYAN Australia remains committed to working with the Australian Government and other stakeholders to ensure that young people, particularly those from migrant backgrounds, have access to the opportunities and support they need to thrive in a truly inclusive Australia.

About MYAN Australia:
The Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) Australia is the national peak body representing the rights and interests of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. MYAN Australia is auspiced by the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY)