The Writers Victoria team high-tailed it home after The Salon last night to watch the Federal Budget unfold.
The theme for our monthly literary event was celebration, and there are certainly some things to celebrate in the budget forecast (but some things to be wary of too).
It was exciting to see plans laid down for a longer term vision but, of course, we now have to wait for September’s election to find out whether this vision is likely to become a reality. \
We particularly welcome the investment in the DisabilityCare national disability insurance scheme that will empower and improve the choices of Australians with disability, including many of the writers we work with through our Write Ability program (in partnership with Arts Access Victoria).
We also welcome the Gonski reforms that will improve the education of all Australian children (including guaranteeing them an arts education, as outlined in the National Cultural Policy). But it is disappointing that this has come at a cost to higher education, which may cause difficulties for writing and publishing undergraduates through cuts to student grants and benefits at university level.
We are very excited by the recognition and valuing of Aboriginal languages, which will have a significant impact on Indigenous authors and storytellers writing in English or in translation.
However, as The Age reported this morning, in spite of the excitement around the new National Cultural Policy, funding for the arts will actually decrease over the next two years (from $1.18 billion to $1.16 billion).
But it’s not all bad news. The arts budget does include an increase in funding going to the Australia Council and an additional $40 million to the Regional Development Australia Fund. We look forward to seeing how this investment will trickle down to support writers across all parts of the state.