Aspect September 2020

Aspect Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Editorial: Federal Budget must rise to the challenge

Kasy ED 4_pref

Next week, the Government is preparing to hand down a landmark Budget for extraordinary times. This will be a Budget unlike any we have seen. Old conventions are being abandoned and new ones are being created. The Government will formally walk away from its long-promised surplus, and it will likely abandon the pretense that the country will soon ‘snap-back’ to normal.

The Budget will be delivered amidst unprecedented challenges. Hundreds of thousands of Australians are struggling to find an affordable home in the midst of this historic recession. Record numbers of Australians are out of work and underemployed. And older Australians are facing a future that’s more uncertain than ever.

For years, these issues barely registered in Federal Budgets. Now they have become urgent. And in each of these cases, there is widespread agreement about the problems we face and how to solve them.

More must be done to create jobs and help people participate. The Government has already recognised that changes are needed to the Jobactive Network. But that recognition has not led to action. Instead, the Government continues to prop up the Jobactive Network and has brought back mutual obligations, forcing people to compete for jobs that just aren’t there. We can never lose sight of this reality – building a better employment and training system is crucial, but it will not change the fact that too many people are competing for too few jobs. There has never been a better time for the Government to invest in direct job creation programs. This Budget is a crucial opportunity.

Paid work is only part of the story. There are now 1.6 million people living on the JobSeeker payment. With payments being cut, many will struggle to afford basic essentials like keeping a roof over their head and putting food on their table. This will have a major impact on Australians doing it tough – especially the one million children who have a parent living on the JobSeeker payment.

Parents cannot pursue a better life for their children if they are forced to choose between eating a meal and paying a bill, buying shoes for their children and filling a prescription. And they cannot look for work if they are homeless or hungry. One-off payments and tax cuts will not lift these families out of poverty. Raising the rates of their payments permanently would be the most powerful step that the Government could take to both reduce poverty and boost the economy.

We don’t need to wonder about the impact of an increase. The proof is in the results. The temporary JobSeeker increase lifted hundreds of thousands out of poverty, allowing them to invest in essentials and keep the economy afloat. It would be cruel to give these Australians a taste of dignity and security, only to take it away.

Housing has been another frustrating aspect of public debate. Everyone agrees that a home is a basic human need. Yet many people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads in the midst of this downturn. Somehow, despite the historic recession, Australians are still spending record amounts on housing. Our Rental Affordability Snapshot, released last month, showed that housing is becoming even more expensive for people on the lowest incomes. We must take the advice of the experts and economists who overwhelmingly tell us that we need to invest in social housing. Ending our social housing shortfall will help many Australians out of housing stress – and create badly needed jobs.

And of course, the pandemic has exposed major fault lines in aged care. The Royal Commission has exposed the fact that there was no plan to help the sector respond to the pandemic, and shown how years of neglect and underfunding has led to a crisis across aged care. Amazingly, none of the revelations stemming from the Royal Commission have led to commitments for change. Older people should not have to wait for another crisis to get the action they need. We need to clear the home care waiting list, tackle workforce challenges, and build a sustainable funding model for aged care. These issues have simply become too urgent to ignore.

As we look ahead to next week’s Budget, it’s important to remember that there have been bright spots. The JobSeeker increase has made a huge impact, if only temporarily. JobKeeper has helped many workers stay connected to their jobs, and protections for renters have kept a roof over the heads of many Australians. The crisis has shown what is needed and what is possible – but it has also shown us that the problems are structural. They are not temporary. This Budget is an opportunity to keep these changes and build on them, instead of winding them back.

A home, a decent income, and dignity in old age are things that every Australian deserves. Each of these areas is critical to making life better for all Australians – and to getting our economy back on track. It has taken years to put these issues on the agenda.

Our challenge now is to make sure we get action, and to use this moment to leave the country in better shape than it was before.

Anglicare Australia will release our Budget Fast Facts analysis following the Budget.

National Office News

National Office News: Annual Report, call for more social housing, raising the rate of JobSeeker, and more

Annual General Meeting and Annual Report
The 24th Annual General meeting of Anglicare Australia has been held via Zoom, passing a new constitution that will see the organisation become a company limited by guarantee. An election was also held for vacancies on the Anglicare Australia Board.

Congratulations to Karen Crouch, who has been elected for another three-year term on Anglicare Australia’s Board, and to Bishop Chris Jones, who has been re-elected as Chair. Congratulations also to Sandra Hills, Stephanie Buckland and Shane Maddocks who were appointed as directors.

The Council is the governance body of Anglicare Australia and made up of senior leaders from around the membership. In addition to skills and attributes that are sought in council members, it is balanced to ensure diversity in gender, geographic location, service type, and organisational size.

Anglicare Australia’s Annual Report is also available online after being accepted at the Annual General Meeting. The Annual Report provides an overview of our priorities and how they have informed some of our flagship projects, including our Jobs Availability Snapshot, Rental Affordability Snapshot, Our Better Selves project, and other research work that Anglicare Australia has undertaken in the last year.

It also showcases the work of the Network, our impact in media debates, and our role in influencing social and economic policy.

Anglicare Australia’s Annual Report is available here. More information about the Anglicare Australia Council is available here.

Time to get serious about social housing
Anglicare Australia has joined more than 300 organisations in an open letter calling for a social housing construction boom, similar to that of the post-war era.

As a partner in the Everybody’s Home campaign, Anglicare Australia is pushing for 30,000 new homes to be built in the next four years. This will deliver much needed housing – and create some 18,000 jobs.

The broad coalition of signatories also includes ACOSS, the Community Housing Industry Association, the ACTU, Mission Australia, St Vincent de Paul Society, the Salvation Army, National Shelter, Homelessness Australia, and several Anglicare Australia member agencies. Several city councils from across the country have also signed on, including Lismore City Council, City of Greater Dandenong, Cardinia Shire Council and Strathfield Council.

The open letter calls on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to commit new investment in social housing. The story has been covered by ABC News, Radio National, Channel 10’s The Project, The Canberra Times, Seven News, and many other outlets.

The open letter is available online.

Report shows that JobSeeker increase is urgent
In the wake of the Inequality in Australia report, Anglicare Australia has said that cutting JobSeeker would worsen inequality. Anglicare Australia was a partner in the report.

“This report should shock all Australians. We are a rich country, yet the wealth gap is getting bigger and bigger,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“Worse still, people on the lowest incomes have almost no savings or assets to weather a crisis.  With no savings to draw on, and with JobSeeker set to be cut in September, they are now facing that crisis.

“A permanent increase to JobSeeker is the best way to help them bounce back.”

Anglicare Australia’s comments on the report were featured in ABC Radio National’s Life Matters program, The Canberra Times, The New Daily, Seven News, and Pro Bono News. Kasy Chambers was also featured on ABC Radio National’s AM program, discussing the impact of the JobSeeker cut on charities.

The Inequality in Australia report is available online.

Anglicare Australia says Robodebt failures must never be repeated
Anglicare Australia has made a submission to the Senate Community Affairs Committee Inquiry on Centrelink's compliance program, also known as Robodebt.

The inquiry is a critical opportunity to reflect on how the government was able to levy debts while knowing that many were inflated or entirely false; and then persist with the practice knowing it to be illegal. Anglicare Australia’s submission focuses on the lessons this experience offers for the future, including:

  • The importance of human oversight in raising debts;
  • Issues in how Centrelink pursues debts, including its use of debt collection agencies; and
  • Accountability to Centrelink’s mission and the government’s model litigant policy.

The submission also featured case studies from clients and staff across the Anglicare Australia Network.

Anglicare Australia has called for the Robodebt scheme be replaced with a compliance regime that has been assessed for errors, tested, and includes human oversight.

The full submission to the Senate Community Affairs Committee is available online.

Rental Affordability Snapshot shows crisis for older renters
Anglicare Australia has said the rental market is failing people on the age and disability support pensions. This follows the release of our special mid-year Rental Affordability Update.

The Update surveyed 77,000 listings and found that:

  • Just 0.8% of rentals are affordable for a single person on the Age Pension. This is down from 1.1% in March.
  • A couple on the Age Pension can afford 1.7% of listings. This is down from 3.2% in March.
  • Disability Support Pensioners are at the bottom of the market, with just 0.3% of rentals affordable. This is down from 0.5% in March.
  • Affordability all households on the disability and age pensions is down since March, and has been trending down for years.

Anglicare Australia called for more social housing to protect older people and people with disability from rental stress. “We know why this is happening, and we know how to fix it,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“In the past thirty years, Australia’s social housing shortfall has gotten worse and worse. We now have a shortfall of over 400,000 social homes. Over the same period, affordability for people on government payments has plummeted.

“The Federal Government must step in and fund more social housing for people who need it the most. It must also include older people and people with disability in any of its support packages in the next budget. Without action, people on these pensions will simply be left to the mercy of the market.”

The story was covered by specialist journalists and outlets, including The Canberra Times, Talking Aged Care, Seven News, and Starts at 60. This came alongside the extensive coverage of the full report, released in August and featured in the previous edition of Aspect.

To find out more about the results, visit www.anglicare-ras.asn.au. Click here to read Anglicare Australia’s media release.

Anglicare Network News

Anglicare Network News

Upcoming National Reconciliation Network meeting
Following Anglicare Australia's recent forum with the team behind In My Blood it Runs, the National Reconciliation Network is aiming stay connected while those conversations were still in our minds.

The Network’s next meeting will explore:

  • Thoughts on working in partnership
  • Reflections on In My Blood it Runs as a film, a partnership, and a project
  • Our partnerships with First Nations, and how governance shapes them.

The meeting will also share progress on collating information on the number and roles of First Nations staff, strategies to engage First Nations people with our services, or to connect them to more appropriate services.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday 27 October 2020, at 1pm AEDST or 10am AWST.

To register for the meeting, email [email protected].

Quick fixes or here to stay? The COVID-19 overhaul of Australia’s social safety net
Anglicare WA will host a special policy event bringing together key experts and researchers, front-line service providers and policymakers to take stock of how the Government’s Covid-19 measures have reshaped its social policies.

Before Covid -19, 3.24 million people in Australia were living below the poverty line. These numbers are likely to swell with growing unemployment, challenges redeploying large sections of the workforce, and added pressure on the charity and non-for-profit sector.

At the same time, we have seen unprecedented changes to welfare policy that have brought renewed attention to the shortcomings of the current system and opened new debates about the role of the welfare system, how to meet growing demand and how to pay for it. The event will look at what all of this means for Australia’s social safety net.

The forum will feature:

  • Mark Glasson, CEO of Anglicare WA
  • David Gilchrist, Convenor of the Not-for-profits UWA Research Group
  • Alison Preston, Professor at the UWA Business School
  • Nicki Hutley, Partner at Deloitte Access Economics.

The forum will be held on Thursday 15 October 2020, at 3pm AEDST or 12pm AWST.

Click here to read more and to register for the event.

Katie Noonan, Kate Miller-Heidke and stars serenade Anglicare Southern Queensland aged care residents
Music stars have united during Covid-19 to be part of a tear-jerking and wholesome new webseries for Anglicare Southern Queensland.

By Request: A Playlist of Memories is dedicated to aged care residents and the transformative power of music. The series was live streamed much to the excitement of its staff, residents and their families across its homes in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.

Artists in the series include Katie Noonan, Isaiah Firebrace, Harrison Craig, Rai Thistlethwayte, Adam Eckersley, Brooke McClymont, Emma Birdsall, and Kate Miller-Heidke.

Anglicare Southern Queensland Executive Director Karen Crouch said By Request allows the organisation to share the stories of their residents and celebrate the full lives that they have lived.

By Request is an eight-part web series celebrating music's ability to connect us back to our treasured memories. The series features some of our residents sharing their life stories connected to their favourite song, and they're delighted when an Australian music star surprises them with a performance of their favourite song just for them.

“The series really has reminded us that music is so powerful and an important force to lift our spirits during these uncertain times.”

Click here to read more.

Thread Together partnership launches in Wagga Wagga
A dedicated mobile wardrobe van based in Wagga Wagga will service Wagga and regional NSW, enabling new clothing, shoes and accessories to be distributed to those in need.

Anglicare NSW South, NSW West, and ACT with Thread Together, assessed the needs of the Wagga Wagga community as being some of the hardest hit communities and decided that the Mobile Wardrobe based in Wagga would be an asset to the greater Riverina region.

Anglicare NSW South, NSW West, and ACT CEO Jeremy Halcrow said “we’re extremely excited about our partnership with Thread Together and what this will mean for families in the Wagga region.

“Our mission is to support vulnerable families, especially those in regional communities who can often be overlooked. Everyone should be able to access clothing that gives them dignity. This is what Thread Together does so well through their new clothing options.

“Practically, this partnership means that vulnerable people attending job interviews or going to work can do so dressed with confidence, and families can receive new clothing for their children.”

Click here to read more.

Research and Resources

New research and resources: Inequality in Australia, ACOSS Community Sector Survey, and more

Inequality in AustraliaInequality in Australia 2020
University of NSW and partners
This Report is the latest in the Poverty in Australia series, part of the Poverty and Inequality Partnership between ACOSS and UNSW. Anglicare Australia is a partner in the research. This edition of the report explores the impact of COVID-19 on income inequality.

The report is available here.

Community Sector SurveyAustralia’s community sector and COVID-19: Supporting communities through the crisis
Australian Council of Social Service
This report provides information about the state of Australia’s community service sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey explored the ways community sector workers are experiencing the crisis; the changing circumstances and patterns of demand that services are confronting; and the ways the sector is responding to the high levels of poverty and need.

The report is available here.

The Economic Impacts of Lowering Payment LevelsEstimating the economic impacts of lowering current levels of income support payments
Deloitte Access Economics
The government is reducing incomes of people on JobSeeker by $300 per fortnight. Unless the government steps in, the supplement will be removed entirely at the end of December. This report examines the implications of winding back – and then eliminating – the coronavirus supplement – for all recipients and for the broader economy.

The report is available here.

Families in AustraliaFamilies in Australia Survey: Life During Covid-19
Australian Institute of Family Studies
This report is drawn from the Life During Covid-19 survey, which ran during the first wave of the pandemic in Australia. During the pandemic, many people needed more help than they did before. This report looks at how they helped, and were helped by, relatives, friends, community groups, and professionals. It explores who got the help they needed, and who didn't.

The report is available here.

Policy, consultations and grants

Policy, consultations and grants

Pathways and Participation Opportunities for Indigenous Australians in Employment and Business
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs is inquiring into opportunities for employment and economic development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Committee has invited submissions addressing any or all of the terms of reference, and is also encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to complete a survey that will inform its report.

Submissions close on 31 December 2020. More information is available here.

Select Committee on Covid-19
The Select Committee on Covid-19 was formed to inquire into the Australian Government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and ay related issues. The Committee is due to hand down its final report by 30 June 2022, and will conduct a rolling inquiry until the completion of this parliamentary term.

Submissions are open, and no closing date has been nominated. More information is available here.

Inquiry into general issues around the implementation and performance of the NDIS
The Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme is conducting this rolling inquiry, which aims to identify broad systemic issues relating to the implementation and operation of the Scheme. After 30 June each year, the committee reports to Parliament on recurrent issues that have arisen and offers recommendations intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Scheme.

Submissions are open, and no closing date has been nominated. More information is available here.

Sector Events

Sector Events, September 2020

National Reconciliation Network meeting
Following Anglicare Australia's recent forum with the team behind In My Blood it Runs, the National Reconciliation Network is aiming stay connected while those conversations were still in our minds. The upcoming meeting will explore thoughts on working in partnership; reflections on In My Blood it Runs as a film, a partnership, and a project; our partnerships with First Nations, and how governance shapes them. It will be held on Tuesday 27 October 2020. To register for the meeting, email [email protected].

Quick fixes or here to stay? The Covid-19 overhaul of Australia’s social safety net
Anglicare WA will host a special policy event bringing together key experts and researchers, front-line service providers and policymakers to take stock of how the Government’s COVID-19 measures have reshaped its social policies. The forum will feature Mark Glasson, CEO of Anglicare WA, and other social and economic experts. The forum will be held on Thursday 15 October 2020. Click here to read more and to register for the event.

Crisis Management Series
Any sudden event that threatens a company’s reputation or stakeholder relations has the potential to morph into a crisis. The difference between companies that recover from a crisis and those that don’t is their readiness. This session will impart the tools, processes and capabilities to deal with a crisis. This webinar is available until 14 October, hosted by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. More information is available here.

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