Aspect February 2020

Aspect Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Editorial: Time to upend the debate on Newstart

Kasy ED 4_pref

In the years since I joined Anglicare Australia, much has been said about the need to raise the rate of Newstart.

There was the Henry Tax Review, which called for a boost to Newstart back in 2010.

Months later it was the OECD. They called our abysmally low Newstart payment an outlier in the developed world.

By 2011, the Business Council of Australia joined the chorusline. They said the payment was making it harder for people to look for work.

Fast forward another year. The Senate started an inquiry on unemployment payments, which agreed that Newstart was failing to provide an ‘acceptable’ standard of living. In fact, every single business and community group that was part of the inquiry wanted an increase.

I will spare you the full year-by-year list. Needless to say, the past decade has seen State and Territory governments, inquiries, reviews, and countless organisations beg for change. Study after study, report after report, has made the same call.

Now a new study has the dubious honour of joining that list. The annual Poverty in Australia report, released by the Australian Council of Social Service and the University of New South Wales, found that one in eight Australians was living in poverty. Worse still, one in six children is growing up in poverty. Poverty has become a national crisis, and the trends show it will only get worse.

The biggest risk factor for living in poverty? You guessed it. Having to rely on Newstart.

Anglicare Australia was a partner in this research. We weren’t surprised by the results. It backs up what we’ve been saying for over a decade.

As for the government? Its position hasn’t changed either. The freeze on Newstart has been one of the few mainstays in a decade of political chaos, even though the excuses have changed with the seasons.

First they said raising Newstart wouldn’t pass the pub test. They’ve been robbed of that one. Poll after poll – including our own research with Ipsos – shows that Australians want Newstart to go up. With so many of us living in poverty or knowing someone who does, it is no surprise that support for an increase is surging.

Then they said Newstart was only a temporary payment. That line disappeared from government talking points after interviewers ripped it to shreds. Many Australians are stranded on the payment for five years or more. Older people are the biggest victims of this limbo, with some trapped on Newstart until they retire.

Now we’re being sold a new story. Instead of fixing Newstart, the government wants ‘more jobs in a stronger economy.’ The best form of welfare is a job, they tell us, so we must ‘grow the pie.’

Here’s the problem. That approach won’t help the people who are doing it tough. In fact, last week’s research shows it might make things even worse.

Looking at households under the poverty line, the Poverty in Australia report found that more people live in poverty during economic booms. The biggest surges in poverty have coincided with our strongest periods of economic growth.

On one level, this makes sense. A booming economy means that rents become more expensive, certain living costs go up, and businesses can start charging their customers more. That’s bad news for people who work part-time, earn the minimum wage, or are stuck on Newstart.

On another level, this is hard to accept. It flies in the face of what politicians have been telling us for a generation – that if we have a strong economy, everything else will fall into place.

This report turns Australia’s political consensus on its head. If we don’t have a strong safety net, other steps we take – like introducing tax cuts and stoking investment in the housing market – can make poverty even worse. And the first step to a stronger safety net is raising the rate of Newstart. Lifting Newstart is the single biggest step we could take to reduce poverty in Australia.

The sad history of Newstart is littered with reports that were ignored and studies that were buried. This one shakes our economic orthodoxy to its core. Let’s make sure it isn’t forgotten.

National Office News

Poverty in Australia report reignites Newstart debate
Poverty in AustraliaThe annual Poverty in Australia report, part of the Poverty and Inequality series, has been released by the Australian Council for Social Service and the University of New South Wales. Anglicare Australia is a partner in the research.

Anglicare Australia Executive Director said that the report shows the need to raise the rate of Newstart.

“This report should shock all Australians. We are a rich country, yet one in eight of us lives in poverty.

“Worse still, one in six children lives in poverty. Australia is becoming more unfair and unequal – and the next generation is paying the price. We know what needs to be done to turn this around.

“Newstart has become a poverty trap. People are stuck in poverty while they look for work, and sometimes, the low rate of Newstart means they can’t get job-ready at all. Raising the rate of Newstart is the single biggest step we could take to reduce poverty in Australia,” Ms Chambers said.

The report was widely covered across the media. Anglicare Australia was featured in The Australian, SBS, Seven News, the Canberra Times, and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Click here to read Anglicare Australia’s media release, and click here to download the report.

Anglicare Australia gives evidence on Centrelink income reporting
Kasy at hearingAnglicare Australia has given evidence to a hearing for the Senate Inquiry into the Government's proposed new income reporting system.

In giving evidence, Executive Director Kasy Chambers welcomed measures that simplify reporting obligations and reduce payment errors. Anglicare Australia also argued that the Government must act on the lessons learned from its failed robodebt scheme before embarking on a new system. These remarks built on our submission to the Inquiry.

We recommended that the reporting changes be passed, on the condition that the Government conducts user testing on these proposed changes. We also called on the Government to show that it has considered any unintended consequences and risks of harm to those using the system.

These remarks, along with the comments made in our submission, were heavily cited in the final report. The report from the Inquiry echoed Anglicare Australia’s recommendations.

A transcript of Anglicare Australia’s evidence is available here. Click here to download the submission.

Productivity Commission must go further on mental health
In a major submission to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Mental Health, Anglicare Australia has argued that mental health services have suffered from ad-hoc development and needless complexity. This stems from a lack of government leadership and investment over many years.

Despite the Productivity Commission’s review of population data, its first report offered no recommendations on the social determinants of health. Anglicare Australia is particularly disappointed that the Commission has not considered the inadequacy of income support and its impact on mental health. In our view, this is not defensible.

We have called on the Commission to reflect on policy settings that impact the social determinants of health, offer additional support for community-based mental health services, and ensure support regardless of diagnosis.

Click here to download the submission.

Anglicare Australia lays out vision for the future of aged care
Aged Care 4Anglicare Australia has set out our Network’s vision for the future of aged care in a detailed response to the Submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Our submission calls for a change to the philosophy that underpins aged care. This must begin by addressing how we perceive ageing, and how as a society we treat our older people. We must confront ageist attitudes and practices.

Anglicare Australia also argued that access to aged care should be a universal right. Most Australians will need some form of aged care, and the system should be based on universal access. This means that funding should be approached through our progressive taxation system. We have also welcomed scrutiny of marketisation in the aged care system.

This submission was based on insights and feedback from Anglicare Australia’s members working in aged care. It will form the basis of much of our future advocacy.

Click here to download the submission.

Bushfire recovery efforts continue
Disaster Recovery ChaplainThis summer’s bushfires were the worst yet. Many people are now left without shelter, food, water and everyday essentials. Others are looking for ways to volunteer, or advice on how they can donate.

Anglicare Australia has collated information on where to get help for those affected, including services provided by Anglicare Australia Network members. We have also included information for those who wish to donate to Anglicare appeals or volunteer with our members to assist people and communities impacted by these terrible fires.

Click here to review our advice.

If you would like to suggest any additions, please contact [email protected].

Anglicare Network News

Anglicare Network News

Upcoming Anglicare Australia network meetings
This year is well underway with a number of Anglicare Australia's special interest networks settling on the time and place for face-to-face network meetings and forums.

Confirmed dates include:

  • The First Nations Staff Network will hold a mini-conference in Sydney on Friday 6 March.
  • The Media and Communications Network will hold a training day in Sydney on Friday 6 March. This will be preceded by a short afternoon session focused on marketing on Thursday 5 March.
  • Human Resources leaders from across the Anglicare Australia Network will meet in Brisbane on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 March.
  • The Financial Wellbeing Network will hold a face-to-face meeting in Sydney or Melbourne on Monday 6 July.

For more information on these meetings or any other network activity, contact the convenors or members of the groups directly. If you’re unsure who to contact, email [email protected].

Introducing Anglicare Central Queensland’s new CEO
Carol GodwinA new CEO has stepped up to lead Anglicare Central Queensland.

Carol Godwin has been appointed to the top job to take AnglicareCQ into a new era of helping Central Queenslanders make the best of their lives.

With more than 20 years’ experience working in the community service and housing sectors, Carol is looking forward to her new role with enthusiasm and vigour.

“I have been with AnglicareCQ for almost 10 years and I’m looking forward to bringing together everything I’ve learned over this time,” she said.

“We have a great team with an integrated approach that is focused on a shared, collective commitment to our community.”

Carol is already well known to many Anglicare Australia members, having been active in many of our interest groups and networks. We’re delighted to welcome her to the role.

Click here to read more about Carol Godwin and AnglicareCQ.

Anglicare WA releases guide for connecting with people experiencing homelessness
Connecting with people experiencing homelessnessOn any given night, more than 9,000 Western Australians are without safe and secure housing. Some are sleeping rough but many more are in unsafe or untenable situations.

The stark reality for many in our community is that the risk of homelessness is never far away; just one unexpected bill or unforeseen circumstance.

The mission of Anglicare WA is to reach out in ways which respect the dignity and choices of people who find themselves homeless, whilst at the same time offering an opportunity for them to have a stable home. In that spirit, Anglicare WA has released Connecting with people experiencing homelessness: A guide for parishes.

This guide provides useful information as parishes respond to people without a safe place to call home who are seeking help.

Click here to download a copy of the guide.

Amana Living Launches End of Life Companion Project
Stephanie BucklandAn initiative to reduce the number of older people in residential aged care dying alone has launched in Perth.

Amana Living has created the ‘No One Dies Alone Companion’ (NODAC) project which will see the organisation recruit 12 volunteers for a pilot. The project will start at Lady McCusker Home in Duncraig where around 10 per cent of residents died alone or with little family support in the last six months.

The NODAC volunteers will be part of a team whose role will include being present with the resident at the end of their life, having conversations, holding their hand, reading aloud from favourite books, and providing a calming environment through music and lighting.  A vigil will start when the resident’s condition becomes terminal and each volunteer will take part in a four-hour vigil shift until the resident passes away.

Stephanie Buckland, CEO of Amana Living, said: “We look after the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of our residents from the moment they join us to the time they leave. This involves providing critical support and comfort to them as they reach the end of their life.

“Sadly, some of our residents don’t have relatives or friends who can spend time with them in their final days. They might be estranged from their family or have outlived them, or the family doesn’t live nearby.

“The No One Dies Alone Companion volunteers will provide compassionate support and human connection to our residents in their last moments on Earth.”

Click here to learn more about the project.

Anglicare Tasmania to hold Communities for Children Conference
Communities for Children ConferenceAnglicare Tasmania will host the Communities for Children conference in May, which will feature leading experts in health, education and child development.

The conference will include a keynote speech from internationally renowned paediatrician Dr Laura Jana. She will describe how to encourage the development of social and creative skills in young children.

Also speaking will be Marina Dickson from the Australian Childhood Foundation. Marina has expertise in trauma-based interventions for children who have experienced abuse. In her talk she will focus on the neurobiology of trauma and trauma-based interventions across the welfare and education sectors.

Anglicare Tasmania is holding the conference in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Social Services. It will be held on May 18-19 in Launceston. The theme of the conference is ‘Transitions – Developmental Transitions, Systems Transitions, and Transitions to Engagement’.

Click here to learn more about the conference, and to find out how to register.

National Awards Profile

Awards profile: Anglicare WA’s Children and Young People Responsive Suicide Support service (CYPRESS)

Welcome to our series of profiles on the winners and highly commended of the Anglicare Australia 2019 National Awards for Innovation and Excellence. These profiles will be featured in Aspect throughout 2020.

CYPRESS Photo OneSuicide is the darkest place we can go to in our society, yet tragically it is affecting more and more Australians. Those left behind can become isolated and suffer terribly from depression, guilt and shame in a long, complex grieving process. Most affected are children and young people.

Research shows that children bereaved by suicide have higher levels of anxiety, anger and shame. They are also three times more likely than other children to commit suicide themselves. That makes it crucial to support them through bereavement.

CYPRESS Photo TwoLong neglected, these young people now have access to a support program designed especially for them. CYPRESS is the first service of its kind in Australia to provide long-term support to those aged between six and eighteen years who have been bereaved through a suicide death.

The program offers home visits or outreach, support groups, peer support, and counselling. The judges noted that this pioneering service has quickly proven itself, having been nominated by the Mental Health Commission as a ‘best practice spotlight.’

Research and Resources

New research and resources: Poverty in Australia, ERO Supplementation, and more

Poverty in AustraliaPoverty in Australia
University of New South Wales
The 2020 Poverty in Australia report, released by the Australian Council of Social Service and UNSW, shows more than one in eight adults and one in six children live below the poverty line in Australia. Anglicare Australia is a partner in this research. 

The report is available here.


Connecting with people experiencing homelessnessConnecting with people experiencing homelessness: A guide for parishes
Anglicare WA
The mission of Anglicare WA is to reach out in ways which respect the dignity and choices of people who find themselves homeless, whilst at the same time offering an opportunity for them to have a stable home. This guide provides useful information as parishes respond to people without a safe place to call home who are seeking help.

The guide is available here.


TrajectoriesTrajectories: the interplay between mental health and housing pathways
Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute
This research is one of the first national studies to examine the relationship between the housing and mental health pathways of people with lived experience of mental ill-health. The report highlights the impact mental health issues have on a person’s financial situation, and therefore their housing situation.

The report is available here.


Challenges for the community sectorChallenges for Australia’s community sector: ERO supplementation
Australian Council of Social Service
This report explores the answers that community sector leaders gave to questions about Equal Remuneration Order supplementation in the Australian Community Sector Survey (ACSS). The responses were clear – the sector is unable to respond to a loss of supplementation payments, without affecting organisational financial status, staffing, and service delivery capacity.

The report is available here.

Policy, consultations and grants

Policy, consultations and grants

Inquiry on the lessons to be learned in relation the Australian bushfire season 2019-20
This inquiry will explore lessons to be learned in relation to the preparation and planning for, response to and recovery efforts following the 2019-20 Australian bushfire season.

Submissions are open, and are due to close on 9 April 2020. More information is available here.

Inquiry into homelessness in Australia
This inquiry will explore homelessness in Australia, overcrowding, solutions to homelessness, and governance and funding arrangements.

Submissions are open, and are due to close on 9 April 2020. More information is available here. Anglicare Australia is considering making a submission, and feedback from members can be sent to [email protected].

Inquiry into the NDIS Workforce
This inquiry will look at the issues surrounding the NDIS workforce, including size, composition, challenges in attracting staff, and how NDIS workforce issues interact with other sectors.

Submissions are open, and are due to close on 16 April 2020. More information is available here. Anglicare Australia is considering making a submission, and feedback from members can be sent to [email protected].

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, February 2020

Upcoming Anglicare Australia network meetings
The following Anglicare Australia networks and interest groups have upcoming face-to-face meetings:

  • The First Nations Staff Network will hold a mini-conference in Sydney on Friday 6 March.
  • The Media and Communications Network will hold a training day in Sydney on Friday 6 March. This will be preceded by a short afternoon session focused on marketing on Thursday 5 March.
  • Human Resources leaders from across the Anglicare Australia Network will meet in Brisbane on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 March.
  • The Financial Wellbeing Network will hold a face-to-face meeting in Sydney or Melbourne on Monday 6 July.

Email [email protected] for more information.

Anglicare Australia National Conference
Anglicare Australia’s National Conference will be held in Hobart from 20–23 September 2020. Australia’s island state is the perfect location for listening and learning. Tasmania has a wealth of amazing stories to share. The timing of the conference will give a great opportunity to get out into the fresh spring air and visit the wonders of the state’s natural environment. Delegates will be treated to concurrent sessions from experts from across the Anglicare network; outstanding keynote addresses; and networking opportunities throughout the three days. The conference will kick off on Sunday evening with an opening service on Sunday night. Registrations will open soon.

Anglicare Tasmania Communities for Children Conference
Anglicare Tasmania will host the Communities for Children conference in May, which will feature leading experts in health, education and child development. The conference will include a keynote speech from internationally renowned paediatrician Dr Laura Jana, Marina Dickson from the Australian Childhood Foundation, and other eminent experts. Anglicare Tasmania is holding the conference in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Registration information is available here.

Training workshops with Adjunct Professor Tracy Westerman
Indigenous Psychological Services, founded by Adjunct Professor Tracy Westerman, has been at the forefront of cultural competency intervention programs for over twenty years. In 2020, they will hold a series of workshops to train professionals on the cultural competency for supervisors of Aboriginal people, and on mental health assessment and suicide prevention. Tracy Westerman was a keynote speaker at Anglicare Australia's recent conference, and her work was warmly received by our members. Places are limited and interested attendees are encouraged to register early. More information is available here.

Fundraising Institute of Australia Conference
The Fundraising Institute of Australia Conference 2020 will be held in Brisbane, Wednesday 26 to Friday 28 February and registrations are now open. The program will be of interest to those in the Anglicare Australia network working on fundraising, major donor relations, and bequests. It will feature three keynotes, and eight masterclasses, eight streams of curated content designed for fundraisers. More information is available here.

National Families Week
Registration is now open for National Families Week 2020. The Week will be held from 15 May, the United Nations International Day of Families, to 21 May 2020. Organisations, businesses and individuals are encouraged to celebrate National Families Week by planning and holding a National Families Week event. More information is available here.

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