Unlike most other countries in the OECD, the social security payment system is funded through government revenue; it is not based on past contributions and is not capped or time limited. In addition, Australia has Medicare, a publicly funded universal health system, which includes subsidised medication under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The Government also provides significant investment in education, supporting government and non-government schools, as well as higher education and vocational education and training (Budget 2018-19, Statement 6: Expenses and Net Capital Investment).
Analysis by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW, 2015-16 data) shows expenditure by Australian and state and territory governments on welfare was $157.2 billion, up from $116.8 billion in 2006-07 constant prices. Overall, for the period from 2006-07 to 2015-16 welfare expenditure grew more quickly than the overall economy over the same period. This figure includes $105.1 billion in cash payments for specific populations (not including unemployment benefits), $42.2 billion in welfare services and $9.9 billion in unemployment benefits (AIHW, Australia’s Welfare 2017, p.27).