Budget 2023: New funding for workplaces, training and silicosis prevention

Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ latest budget has unveiled funding for workplaces.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ latest budget has unveiled funding for workplaces. Photo: AAP

The 2023 federal budget contained a range of spending to improve workforce shortages across the nation and help Australians gain skills for new jobs.

Millions of dollars in funding was also pledged to improve workplace safety in last Tuesday’s federal budget, under a set of programs designed to give life to the Albanese government’s industrial relations agenda.

Here’s a rundown of what the 2023 budget means for workers.

Employment support

The government will spend $26.3 million over five years boosting employment services for young people in the care economy, with a focus on pre-employment services for First Nations people who are incarcerated.

A regional employment service model will be trialled and $5.7 million will be spent to extend the Time to Work Employment Service program for 12 months to provide additional pre-employment support services.

A total of $15.2 million has been pledged to establish a Y Career Agency that will provide young Australians with employment opportunities in the care economy, including early childhood education and care, disability and aged care.


The budget pledged $54.3 million over five years from 2022-23 to introduce support for apprentices, with a particular focus on helping women finish their training in traditionally male-dominated industries.

“The model will redesign and refocus key support services currently delivered by the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network to increase apprenticeship completion rates and the diversity of the apprentice workforce,” the budget said.

About $5 million in grants will also be paid to organisations to provide education, advice and support to drive more culturally safe and inclusive workplaces.

Fair and safe workplaces

There will be $27.4 million in funding over four years from 2023-24 (and $1.1 million per year ongoing) to improving fairness and safety in Australian workplaces.

The package includes $20 million over two years for the Productivity, Education and Training Fund, which will drive engagement around the government’s workplace relations agenda.

Another $4.4 million will be paid to establish the National Construction Industry Forum, which will bring together representatives from key businesses and unions to “provide advice on major challenges” facing the industry, including cultural issues, skills development and productivity.

Beyond that, $2 million has been earmarked to create a training package on workplace psychological hazards, which will be provided to organisations that train health and safety officials.

Addressing silicosis

Taxpayers will spend $10 million over the next four years dealing with the rise of the terminal disease silicosis, which is being contracted by workers in the mining and carpentry industries.

The funding will go to developing a national strategy for preventing the condition, with $4.7 million earmarked for a dedicated occupational lung disease team to oversee and investigate reforms that will improve the federal government’s response.

An additional $4.2 million will go to extending the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency’s remit to include preventing silicosis and other silica-related occupational diseases.

Programs dropped

The government said it would cease or change many Coalition programs in the Employment and Workplace Relations portfolio, with $212.9 million in savings to be drawn out of the budget over five years.

This includes reducing allocations under the self-employment assistance small business coaching program and ending the Entrepreneurship Facilitators scheme in 2025.

Another $27.5 million will be saved by temporarily reducing uncommitted industry workforce training program funding, the budget said.

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