VisionCare suspension reveals NSW Government’s budget myopia

“The VisionCare NSW program helps the truly destitute and it is outrageous that Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward, should suspend it,” said Antoine Mangion, CPSA senior policy officer.

“This action puts at risk the health and wellbeing of thousands of disadvantaged NSW residents. Many recipients of the program’s spectacles are elderly and now face deteriorating vision and falls because they will be unable to afford the cost of a pair of glasses.

“In the last budget, the Government reduced the VisionCare budget by one-third from over $6 million to just over $4 million. They failed to disclose that cutting funding for the program would lead to its suspension given that the number of applicants was likely to be the same as the previous year or more.

“Only those on the full rate of pension or allowance with basically no other income or assets are eligible due to the strict and low means test. If you’ve saved for any emergency, such as your fridge breaking down, you’re ineligible. This eligibility criteria has remained in place since the program’s inception in 1992. In other words, 20 years with no increase.

“If the Government wants to show that they are tough when it comes to economic management, it is poor form that they picked this program. The cost of the whole program, even at the highest level of expenditure in 2010-11 of $6 million, is loose change for a state the size of NSW.

Media Contact: Antoine Mangion, Senior Policy Officer
Mobile: 0410 612 182