Aspect July 2017

Aspect Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Editorial: The future of welfare

Roland MandersonThis month, I was invited to give a speech on priority investment and the future of human services.

It got us thinking about the point of human services, and the point of welfare. For us, it’s about governments doing what markets cannot, ensuring that opportunities are shared and that everyone has enough to live a decent life.

Human services exist to deliver a social good – a responsibility that extends beyond simply providing services to playing a valuable role in our community, civic and moral spheres. But more and more, they are being targeted for cost cutting and false ‘efficiencies.’

This is one of the paradoxes of our tax and transfer system. Australia has tried more than any other country to target assistance, attempting to provide a safety net with very low taxes, but in recent years we’ve seen the parsimoniousness of this approach that revives the judgmental attitudes of the nineteenth Century, inviting social division.

For years, Anglicare Australia has been calling for a different approach to welfare and investment that recognises the real problems – that there are not enough jobs for people who can work, and for those who can’t, income support payments are much too low.

The Productivity Commission is grappling with some of these questions in its Inquiry into Human Services. The brief for its Inquiry is to explore how increasing competition could enhance user choice; and hence, presumably, deliver better outcomes for those people using the services.

At Anglicare Australia we’ve been working with the Productivity Commission, responding to its Draft Report and giving evidence at a recent hearing in Canberra. Our focus is on those areas of human services that members of our network are a part of. 

We are disturbed by the Commission’s recommendation to have social housing tenants pay market rents. The assumption is that a more competitive market, coupled with changes to rent assistance payments, will deliver housing for people on low incomes and create incentives for State Governments to build and invest. But this is despite the market’s abject and growing failure to deliver housing over the past twenty years, and a disappointing track record from State Governments.

The Productivity Commission is right to point to the thousands of people on low incomes trapped paying unaffordable rents on the private market. But pushing thousands of even more vulnerable people into the same failed market makes no sense. 

We are aiming, instead, to secure more social housing and stronger tenant rights, making housing more affordable and more secure for those most in need. That might seem obvious but – inexplicably – Australia is still a long way from putting such a plan in place. 

In other areas, the Inquiry’s focus has broadened beyond efficiency to explore how other key human services might be delivered better. In Indigenous, palliative care and community services, the Commission is proposing much more positive, holistic reforms to human services.

The Commission’s draft report includes valuable explorations of the responsibility of government as a steward of the market; as well as the co-design of services, being clear about the outcomes government is funding, and working more respectfully with the organisations and communities where the services are delivered.

Where I’d urge the commission to go further is in taking guidance from the Brotherhood of St Laurence, for example which put very strong arguments about the social value of human services in its submissions to the inquiry.

And we’ve urged the Commission to try to bring its analytical thinking to the community benefits of co-production, where the people who use the services are part of the design and delivery.

These aren’t new ideas. They just sit, still, too far away from the frame that limits Australia’s welfare discourse.

Welfare reform and priority investment shouldn’t be seen in the public debate to be a cost saving exercise. Because in essence, it isn’t. Or it shouldn’t be. It should be an investment in our community, our society, and enhancing our lives.

 
Roland Manderson
Anglicare Australia Deputy Director

National Office News

National Office News: Productivity Commission, National Conference and more

Anglicare Australia speech on the future of human services
Roland at AusESOC
Roland Manderson, Acting Executive Director of Anglicare Australia, delivered a speech on priority investment in human services.

Mr Manderson spoke as part of a panel that featured Minister for Human Services Christian Porter and Productivity Commissioner Richard Spencer. The speech focused on how human services can help create a fairer society:

"We should frame this discussion about priority investment in terms of creating a better, more inclusive, society. That means the ‘investment’ is a partnership with people at risk of ongoing hardship or disengagement, with people facing challenges – those looking for improved wellbeing and participation in our society.

That should be the point of human services and the point of welfare. It’s about governments doing what markets cannot, ensuring that opportunities are shared and that everyone has enough to live a decent life. We should be using our system to make Australia more equitable; something we should actually strive for rather than fear."

Click here to download the full speech, and click here to download Anglicare Australia’s submission to the Productivity Commission. The Australian’s coverage of this story is available here.

Anglicare Australia opposes cutting the Energy Supplement
Anglicare Australia has strongly opposed the Government’s proposal to phase-out the Energy Supplement. The move would cut income support payments for an estimated 2.2 million people.

“Australia already has some of the lowest income support payments in the world. Axing the Energy Supplement would cut them by up to $7 a week,” said Anglicare Australia Acting Executive Director Roland Manderson.

“Any cuts will hurt people who rely on income support, and who are already living well below the poverty line. The Energy Supplement was the first real increase to Newstart and Youth Allowance since 1994. At a time when cost-of-living and energy costs are soaring, this cut would be unconscionable” Mr Manderson said.

Click here to download Anglicare Australia’s submission, and click here to read the media release. Pro Bono Australia’s coverage of this story is available here.

Productivity Commission Inquiry on NDIS Costs
Anglicare Australia has made a submission to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry on the NDIS and Costs.

Our submission calls for greater clarity and planning support for people with a psychosocial disability; improved clarity and accountability of state and territory governments services that interface with the NDIS; the immediate introduction of an independent price monitor; and mapping for psychosocial services within and outside the NDIS as a matter of urgency.

Anglicare Australia also strongly supports the development of a holistic workforce strategy.

Click here to download Anglicare Australia’s submission.

Take Our 'Meaning of Home' Survey
Meaning of Home squareHome is where the heart is. It’s where we spend time with those we love, make memories, enjoy our privacy. It’s a space we can make our own, the place that defines where we find community, and find the peace and stability that helps us take on all the other parts of our lives.

Anglicare Australia, as part of a nationwide project, has launched a survey to learn more about what home means to Australians, from all walks of life and backgrounds.

Want to tell us what it means to you? If so, there are only two questions and you can tell us in your own words by completing this survey.

Anyone can complete this survey anonymously. Please circulate this survey through your networks - we would love to hear from as many people as possible.

The survey is available here.

Register for Anglicare Australia’s 2017 Conference
Registrations are open for the Anglicare Australia National Conference, to be held at the Crowne Plaza, Coogee Beach.

Our theme for 2017 is Stronger Together: Our Mission in the Marketplace The conference will feature:
- Keynote speeches from Hugh Mackay, Verity Firth, Tanya Herscht, and more
- The annual John Roffey Lecture, delivered by Dr Karin Sowada
- A panel themed Our Mission: Disrupted, exploring the changing digital landscape and featuring speakers from Nous Group, InfoXchange, and Tigerspike
- A harbour cruise followed by dinner at Luna Park
- The announcement of Anglicare Australia's National Awards at the Coogee Beach Pavilion
- Presentations and workshops exploring the themes of client experience and person-centred delivery, working with communities, our role in the market, and organisational development

There has never been a more important time for our network to come together and strengthen our efforts – and reflect on the mission of Anglicare agencies into the future.

You won’t want to miss it!

To register for the conference, click here.

Anglicare Australia Families, Children and Communities Network Meeting
Anglicare Australia's Families, Children and Communities Network will host a network meeting at Anglicare SA, 159 Port Road, Hindmarsh from 9am on Friday 4 August 2017.

The meeting will include sessions on:
- Working with vulnerable client groups (led by Glenda Devlin of Anglicare Sydney)
- Measuring outcomes and organisational outcomes frameworks (led by Karen Barker and Ross Bentong of Anglicare WA)
- Early intervention and opportunities to work across the sector (led by Sue Christophers of AnglicareSA)
- The Government’s take on for social services (led by Roland Manderson of Anglicare Australia)

An informal dinner will be held the night before in Adelaide.

For more information on the meeting, contact Roland Manderson on [email protected]. Click here to download the full agenda.

Anglicare Network News

Anglicare Network News

Anglicare Tasmania report shows urgent need for care and protection
Catherine RobinsonNew research from Anglicare Tasmania shows highly vulnerable young Tasmanians are missing out on life-changing care – and sets out a plan to prioritise their needs.

“Our research focused on children and young people aged 10-17 who have experienced significant harm – including multiple forms of violence – during childhood and adolescence,” said Dr Catherine Robinson, a researcher at Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre (SARC).

The research specifically focused on young people who do not enter the out of home care system and who instead face an ongoing struggle to independently access support and safe accommodation during adolescence.

The research found systemic failure in addressing the needs for care of these highly vulnerable young Tasmanians.

“During the crucial years of their development, these children have had persistent exposure to physical and emotional harm, and face extreme adversity during adolescence, including homelessness and difficulty accessing mental health support and education,” said Dr Robinson.

“Distressingly, we found that many young people end up labelled ‘too hard’ and miss out on even the most basic forms of care”.

Anglicare said that intensive, long-term, relationship-based care would make a significant difference for highly vulnerable young Tasmanians – but there was currently a dire shortage of this kind of therapeutic support.

“What we found was a fragmented system of referral between short-term interventions and a lack of specialist adolescent services,” said Dr Robinson.

“Supportive, ongoing, relationship-based care is vital to ensure the safety of young Tasmanians, help them recover from trauma, and develop positive mental health and well-being,” she said.

The new research highlights that the Child Safety Service in Tasmania is not equipped to respond to these highly vulnerable young people. In particular, few appropriate out-of-home care options and a lack of capacity for ongoing support outside of out-of-home care are seen as key issues. The result is that responsibility for complex teens is being transferred to at-capacity NGOs.

An urgent need was also identified for more investment in specialised medium and long-term supported housing options for young people in Tasmania.

Click here to download the report, 'Too Hard? Highly vulnerable teens in Tasmania'. ABC Tasmania’s coverage of this story is available here. Dr Catherine Robinson will also present this research at the upcoming Anglicare Australia National Conference in Sydney.

Samaritans Launches OI App
Samaritans appSamaritans has this month launched the ‘Oi’ mobile App, a practical digital resource developed for young people to be a voice against abuse, identify abuse when it happens and know where to go to seek help.

The Oi App has been developed for iOS and Android platforms and includes an interactive quiz, an option to pledge to never commit or remain silent about abuse and share across social media, frequently asked questions about abuse and domestic violence, as well as a library of support services available for those who may be at risk, or who need someone to talk to.

The App is the product of a successful collaboration between Samaritans, Optus and Newcastle-based creative agency, Headjam, which has seen the development of a product that provides self-help information for young people about domestic violence.

“Samaritans were proud to receive one of the Optus Future Makers Grants in 2016, which has now seen the development of a great resource for young people experiencing or witnessing relationship abuse or family violence,” Penny Harnett of Samaritans said.

“We worked closely with our youth services teams to gain insights into the kinds of questions young people ask, the support services available and their interactions with digital media, such as Apps.

“We are very excited to finally launch Oi, which sees the project become a reality and empowers young people to recognise, stand up and speak out against domestic and family violence,” Ms Harnett said.

Samaritans work in the community extends from disability services and support for the homeless to services for children, youth and people experiencing domestic violence, offering a number of confidential services that support women and children escaping domestic violence.

The Oi App is available for download now from the App store and on GooglePlay. Visit www.oiapp.org.au for more information.

EPIC collaborates with IT experts to boost career prospects for people with autism
Two IT experts are helping boost career prospects for people with autism through an innovative new software testing program. EPIC Testability Academy (ETA) is the brainchild of Dr Lee Hawkins and Paul Seaman, both of whom are passionate about increasing workplace diversity while filling a gap in their sector. Once the men joined forces with EPIC Assist, it was full steam ahead.

“Both Paul and I have been involved in community-based events around software testing in the past, and were looking for a new opportunity to give back,” said Lee.

As the inaugural 12-week course draws to a close, both men reflect on what has been an insightful teaching experience.

EPIC“Society tends not to look at the differences people who are not ‘mainstream’ can bring to the workplace. We were very interested in creating opportunities for those that may have struggled in the past,” said Paul.

“For some reason, there is a focus on what people with disability can’t do, whereas for everyone else there is a focus on ability and what they can do. That’s a strange bias and one that robs many workplaces of the chance to tap into new ways of thinking.”

“Sure, there are some things that people on the spectrum are challenged with, but that’s true of everyone.”

The team say these types of programs are also beneficial for strengthening the IT sector.

“As more and more aspects of our lives are impacted by software, building up the skills of the next generation of software professionals is a critical and ever-expanding challenge,” said Lee.

“There is still very little treatment of software testing as a challenging, intellectual endeavour in formal higher education IT courses, and we see this as a big gap to fill. The role that humans have to play in excellent software testing shouldn’t be underestimated.”

Both Paul and Lee have dedicated their time and expertise free of charge, with countless hours also committed to planning and creating the curriculum. EPIC Assist also provided hands-on support during classes, and contributed to other costs associated with ETA.

“Our aim has always been to give students a broad basic knowledge of software testing, with an emphasis on practical skills and hands-on testing over theory,” explains Paul.

“We’re really looking forward to our next group of students and applying some of the lessons learned from our first ETA course.”

People on the autism spectrum who are interested in participating in the next ETA course can visit www.epicassist.org/au/epic-testability-academy, email [email protected] or call EPIC Assist on (07) 3857 5085.

Small change makes a big difference for Brotherhood of St Laurence’s David Sier Fellowship recipients
Congratulations to Vivian, Linda and Sobeydo who have been awarded the David Sier Fellowship. The newly launched annual fellowship aims to create small change for recipients from a migrant, refugee and asylum seeker background.

Vivian, one of the recipients of the David Sier Fellowship, holding her certificate.

Vivian, one of the recipients of the David Sier Fellowship, is looking to get her driver’s license enabling her to travel to school, become more independent and support her family.

The fellowship celebrates the legacy of the late David Sier and his impact during his time as a volunteer mentor in our Brain Bank program. Alongside Rob Hudson, Brotherhood Group General Manager of Programs and Policy, David’s widow, Fiona Sharkie presented the awards.

BSL“He just wanted to help people in any useful way he could. David was a huge supporter of migrants and refugees; he truly believed they make Australia a better place,” Ms Sharkie says.

The $1,000 fund awarded to and shared between Vivian, Linda and Sobeydo will help them to become more independent and pursue further education and training.

Sobeydo and Vivian will invest in driving lessons to assist in day-to-day life, widening the location of jobs they can apply for and supporting their families.

Vivian hopes that through lessons she will be able to get her driver’s license and also help her mother and four siblings with transport.

“This will help achieve my goal which is learning to drive because the driving lessons costs a lot and I wasn’t able to pay for them,” she says.

Linda’s goal is to improve her English and begin working in Australia. After 5 years of experience in branch banking in Iraq, Linda’s hope is that further education will help her secure employment in her field.

“I am studying an English course already, and I think that a bookkeeping course will open many doors for me in the job market,” she says.

MCT Senior Manager Hutch Hussein says the inaugural David Sier Fellowship is a new, annual ritual.

“It allows us to recognise the role of volunteers as well as honour David’s legacy through the awarding of funds from his bequest to people pursuing their education and employment goals. It’s a lovely way to keep his memory alive amongst a new group of people who haven’t benefited from his presence, but do from his present.”

Click here to find out more about the Brotherhood of St Laurence's program on refugees, immigration and multiculturalism.

Anglicare Northern Inland speaks out on problem gambling
Anglicare Northern Inland have expressed concern about figures showing that $879,000 is gambled away each day in Tamworth.

Anglicare Northern Inland financial gambling counsellor Bobbie Warrington spoke out about the issue. “The thing I think about when I hear those figures is how much the disadvantaged communities contribute to that number,” she said.

Ms Warrington said that Anglicare sees the damage caused by problem gambling. “A lot present with debt collectors hounding them and they’re about to lose their houses or cars. It is also contributes to mental health issues.”

Ms Warrington said some early signs to look out included not having fun gambling anymore and noticing bills go unpaid.

As of June 30, 2016, there were 513 authorised machines in Tamworth clubs and 222 in the region’s pubs. Twelve months earlier, the clubs had 516 machines, while the pubs had 224.

Anglicare Northern Inland said pubs and clubs needed to do more to promote available help.

Click here to find out more about Anglicare Northern Inland financial counselling services. The Northern Daily Leader’s coverage of this story is available here.

National Awards Profile

Awards profile: Digital Life Project, Samaritans Foundation

Welcome to the next in our series of profiles on the winners and highly commended of the Anglicare Australia 2016 National Awards for Innovation and Excellence. These profiles are featured in the 2017 Anglicare Australia Review.

Digital LifeThe Digital Life Project is an initiative delivered by the Samaritans Foundation in partnership with Family and Community Services (FACS) in NSW. The Project aims to deliver video and multimedia digital stories for people with disabilities who are living in large residential centres.

The purpose of the project is to allow people living with disabilities, currently residing in the Stockton or Kanangra Residential Centres, to create their own digital introductory stories to tell important information about themselves. These short, three-minute introductory films aim to support their current and future care needs by capturing information about their interests and dreams for the future.

“Digital story telling has the potential to provide a personalised bridge of communication between the person, support services and the wider community. It’s a great initiative not only for the people we support, but also the community at large,” said the Service Manager Eve McKenzie.

The judges thought this was on an innovative response to a new and real emerging issue. They said it was not only innovative but creative and respectful.

Research and Resources

New research: Per Capita, SPRC and AHURI

Not so super for women
Per Capita
Commissioned by the Australian Services Union, Per Capita have surveyed over 4,000 workers, complemented by a detailed analysis of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The overall picture for women's retirement income is sobering.

The report is available here.

Reasonable, necessary and valued: Pricing disability services for quality support and decent jobs
Social Policy Research Centre
This research is concerned with prospects for quality services and decent jobs under Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme. It examines how the prices set by the National Disability Insurance Agency are impacting disability support workers, and other factors.

The report is available here.

Indigenous imprisonment in NSW: A closer look at the trend
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research
This report finds that the number of Indigenous offenders receiving a prison sentence could be reduced by more than 500 a year if half of those currently given a short prison sentence for minor offences were instead placed on an Intensive Correction Order or Home Detention.

The report is available here.

Inquiry into housing policies, labour force participation and economic growth
Australian Housing and Urban Policy Institute
This research highlights repositioning housing to a more central place within economic policy debates, and suggests a coordinated policy treatment of housing as an economic asset has implications for nation-wide economic growth.

The report is available here.

Government Policy and Information

New consultations and grants

Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017
This inquiry will investigate legislation that allows for the proposed drug trial test, changes to job compliance requirements, and the wrapping up of multiple payments into one jobseeker payment.

Submissions close Friday 4 August 2017. More information is available here.

Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017
This inquiry will investigate legislation that allows for changes to Family Tax Benefit tapering rates, changes to pension access based on residency requirements, cuts to the pension for travel longer than six weeks, and the liquid assets test.

Submissions close Friday 4 August 2017. More information is available here.

Incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
The Australian Law Reform Commission is examining the factors leading to the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our prisons, and considering law reform to ameliorate this.

Submissions close Wednesday 30 August 2017. More information is available here.

Stronger Communities grants available
The Stronger Communities Grants Programme will make up to $20,000 to community groups for projects and equipment that improve participation and strengthen local communities. Funding of up to $150,000 is available in each Federal Electorate, operated by local MPs.

Applications close on Thursday 28 September 2017. More information is available here.

Sector Events

Sector Events, July, 2017

GARMA festival
Registrations have opened for the Garma festival. Run by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, the Garma festival will take place from the 4th to the 7th of August. Anglicare representatives will be at the festival – for more information, email [email protected]

18th International Mental Health Conference
Abstract submissions are now being accepted for the 18th International Mental Health Conference, being held on the Gold Coast, QLD on 21 – 23 August 2017. More information is available on the website where you can submit your abstracts and register.

Anglicare Australia Families, Children and Communities Network Meeting
Anglicare Australia's Families, Children and Communities Network will host a network meeting in Adelaide on Friday 4 August 2017. For more information on the meeting, contact Roland Manderson on [email protected].

7th International Carers Conference
Carers Australia is proud to host the 7th International Carers Conference in Adelaide, South Australia, from 4-6 October 2017. The conference aims to re-imagine caring into the future, providing a catalyst for innovation and collaboration; sharing improvements in the way we support unpaid carers, care-recipients, their families, networks and communities.

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