Aspect November 2020

Aspect Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Editorial: Time to make the retirement system fairer

Kasy ED 4_pref

We have a saying in the Anglicare Australia office – advocacy is repetition. Sometimes, after beating the drum on an issue for years, we find that it finally hits the mainstream. After beating the drum about older renters retiring into poverty, the issue is finally getting national attention.

After a decade of releasing the Rental Affordability Snapshot, we’ve found that one of the biggest dividers amongst Australians is whether they rent or own their own home.

This is a major fault line. From what you can do in your home to make it a home – planting a garden, putting up pictures, having a pet – to how long you can call it home for – most states still allow no explanation evictions – right through to affordability now and security into the future.

We have become especially worried about the grim situation facing older renters retiring into poverty.  The rental market is barely affordable for them. A couple on the age pension can afford less than two percent of the 76,962 listings we analysed in our Snapshot. A single person on the age pension can afford less than one percent. These figures look at affordability. They do not consider whether rentals are accessible and close to transport, shops, and services – the very things we advise people to look for as they age.

Renting at any age is insecure and fraught. But for older people it is doubly so. Aging at home and accessing home care is difficult if the landlord doesn’t accept modifications – some as simple as a ramp to the front door and a rail in the shower.  The thought that you can be evicted with two week’s notice is never far from your mind. This is not the retirement most of us would wish for.

The Retirement Income Review, initiated last year, was another opportunity to beat this drum.

The report from the view, released in November, took note of this important pillar in people’s retirement living. Like us, they found that home ownership is a major fault line for financial wellbeing in retirement. The history of the age pension is oft repeated and well known, but its basic architecture hasn’t changed in decades.

The pension assumes an idyllic married couple who have bought, and now own, their own home as they enter retirement.  In other words, they have no ongoing housing costs. The residential aged care system also assumes that most people will own their own home.

Whether this was ever a realistic view of the Australian household is debatable. It certainly isn’t now, and it is becoming less and less realistic as housing becomes more and more expensive.  The affordability crisis, insecure work patterns, relationship breakdowns, and many other trends mean that many people will not own their own home by the time they retire. It’s time for the retirement system to recognise that.

In the reporting and chatter about the Retirement Incomes Review, the emphasis has been on whether to lift the compulsory rate of superannuation or hold it still. But if we see the pension, the family home, and superannuation at the three legs of a stool, then concentrating on only one will leave us with an unbalanced system.

Superannuation seems to have become the hero of this story. We often hear about ‘self-funded’ retirees, a narrative built on the idea that superannuation is good because it promotes independence and worthiness. As with any story that has a hero, there must also be a villain. In this narrative we attribute the opposite qualities to the pension – it should be avoided, it promotes dependence, and it’s a cost to everybody else.

But this narrative is false. Our Cost of Privilege report shows that the age pension costs $40 billion a year, while government contributions and concessions on superannuation cost $44 billion a year. The costs of these concessions are spiralling each year, and will soon overtake the cost of the pension. We also found that that 58 percent of these concessions go to the wealthiest 20 percent of Australians. So much for a ‘self-funded’ retirement.

Back in 2017, Richard Dennis of the Australia Institute suggested to our CEO Forum that we should simply double the pension and make it universal. The costs wouldn’t spiral as superannuation concessions have been, it would benefit people who need it most when they retire. In fact, the Retirement Income Review found that all but the very wealthiest retirees still access at least part of the pension, so reforming the system would reduce inequality while offering all Australians a financially peaceful retirement.

Retirement Income is a very special piece of social policy. It is like time travel. What we see in the incomes of older people today reflect is the social mores of life decades ago – women were excluded from the workplace after marriage, assumptions were made about life-long marriages, and most people could afford to own a home.

What we put in place now will affect people at the beginning of their working lives, as well as those in every other stage. We have an opportunity to set retirement incomes decades into the future by making them fairer today.

Our response to the Retirement Incomes Review should not be about whether we should be paying 9.5 or 12 percent in compulsory super. It should be about the amount of money that goes to fund the retirements of the already wealthy, and our acceptance of a narrative that demonises the age pension as cost and dependence.

National Office News

National Office News: Raise the Rate campaign, safe lending laws, NAIDOC Week, and more

Anglicare Australia continues advocacy on JobSeeker cuts
Anglicare Australia has remained highly active in efforts to secure a permanent increase to JobSeeker. We also opposed the further cuts announced by the Government earlier in November.

“More cuts to JobSeeker will push Australians into poverty just as they need to be getting on their feet,” said Anglicare Australia’s Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“Over 1.5 million Australians are looking for work. Many have lost their jobs and their livelihoods. Thousands were locked out of work and living in poverty long before that.

“These cuts will plunge hundreds of thousands of Australians – and over a million children – into poverty.”

Anglicare Australia made a submission opposing the increase drawing on evidence from the Network and our research collected over the course of the year. Kasy Chambers also appeared before a Senate Inquiry on the cuts. Our efforts were covered across national media outlets including The Australian, ABC Radio, The Canberra Times, SBS World News, Win News, Seven News, and more.

Click here to download Anglicare Australia’s submission. Click here to watch evidence from Kasy Chambers and other groups.

Open letter opposing government plans to axe safe lending laws
Anglicare Australia has joined leading consumer advocacy organisations, charities, community, legal and family violence organisations, unions and financial counsellors in signing an open letter opposing Government plans to axe safe lending laws.

In an open letter released nationally on 24 November, 125 organisations and 97 prominent Australians urged Senators to block proposed weakening of safe lending laws which protect consumers from aggressive lending by financial institutions. Supporters of the open letter include community legal centres, the ACTU, ACOSS, and a range of religious, community, legal and family violence organisations from across Australia.

The Open Letter is also supported by new national polling that shows that Australians expect lenders to check if credit is unaffordable. Three quarters of Australians think that banks should be required to always check a customer's ability to repay before offering a mortgage - and only 4% disagree.

Click here to download the Open Letter.

Bringing together Acknowledgements of Country from across the Anglicare Australia Network
To mark NAIDOC Week celebrations this year, Anglicare Australia brought together Acknowledgements of Country from across our Network in a new publication, Acknowledging Country.

As our First Nations Staff Network has noted in Anglicare Australia’s Cultural Protocols, acknowledging country “demonstrates respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and recognises the importance of acknowledging Traditional Owners/Custodians of the land and/or sea. It is offered as a way of showing respect and acknowledgement to the people who occupied the land for over 60,000 years prior to colonisation.”

Our hope is that Acknowledging Country will serve as a reminder of the richness and diversity of First Nations communities, made up of many different and distinct groups, each with their own culture, customs, language and laws. It will also highlight the breadth of our Network, and build understanding of First Nations cultures among our members.

Acknowledging Country was prepared with the help of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) Map of Indigenous Australia. We thank AIATSIS for this invaluable resource.

Click here to download Acknowledging Country.

Anglicare Australia launches Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan
Anglicare Australia has launched our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan. Anglicare Australia's Executive Director Kasy Chambers said the Plan recognised the organisation's role in supporting change.

"As the Executive Director of Anglicare Australia, I’m proud to launch this Plan.

"As the peak organisation representing Anglican caring organisations around Australia, Anglicare Australia is well placed to grow partnerships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations, the community sector, and government bodies and bureaucracies.

"This Plan outlines our strategy for implementing and measuring practical actions to build respectful relationships and for exploring opportunities for cultural learning and development across the Anglicare Australia Network.

"I look forward to working with our Network to delivering on this commitment", Ms Chambers said.

Our grateful to thanks to members of our Reconciliation Action Plan Advisory Group, the First Nations Staff Network, and the National Reconciliation Network for their work, insights, and advice on the Plan.

Click here to download our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan.

Anglicare Network News

Anglicare Network News

Home Stretch campaign celebrates major win in Victoria
The Home Stretch campaign has applauded the Andrews Government for its nation-leading pledge to offer extended care arrangements to every young person in the state to 21 years on an ongoing basis. The initiative was announced by the Victorian Treasurer, Tim Pallas, as part of the Victorian Budget.

From 1 January 2021, the Home Stretch program will provide an accommodation allowance to every young Victorian in out-of-home care until the age of 21. This means a young person can remain living with their kinship or foster carer if they wish, or transition to supported independent living arrangements.

The game-changing $64.7 million commitment will give vulnerable young people the best chance of a successful transition to independent living. Under current child protection arrangements, the majority of young people in state care across the country have their support terminated once they turn 18.

Home Stretch Chair and founder Paul McDonald, also CEO of Anglicare Victoria, said the announcement was a model for other states to follow, and said it was the single most significant reform to child welfare in a generation.

“This announcement will transform the lives of vulnerable young people for the better, giving them options they would not have if their support had been terminated at 18 - as it is for the majority of young people across the country,” he said.

“Regardless if a young person is in kinship care, residential care or foster care, Victorian young people in care will be offered the option to continue receiving the full care of the State until they turn 21 years. Without doubt this will halve the homeless rates of this group of young people and double their education and employment engagement.”

The Home Stretch campaign is an initiative of Anglicare Victoria, who have won multiple awards for their campaigning efforts. Several other Anglicare Australia Network members are active in the campaign in States and Territories across Australia.

Click here to read more about the Victorian Government’s landmark announcement.

Anglicare Southern Queensland named Best Home Care Operator in Asia-Pacific
Anglicare Southern Queensland has been announced as the Asia-Pacific’s Best Home Care Operator in the Eldercare Innovation Awards in Singapore in November.

More than 88 organisations from 15 countries were named as finalists for their innovative and high-quality approaches to changing the way older adults age, and for their contribution in shaping the future of the ageing landscape in the region.

Finalists came from Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan ROC, Thailand, United States and The Netherlands.

Anglicare’s Community Aged and Disability Group Manager, Sue Montgomery, said she was humbled to accept the award on behalf of all staff for their commitment to looking after older Queenslanders for the past 150 years.

“This award is a great acknowledgement of the dedication and commitment of our staff and volunteers and the work they do each and every day with love, care, hope and humility,” Ms Montgomery said.

“Thank you to the judges, organisers and all other entrants and finalists, but most of all, thank you to our staff, volunteers, clients and the communities we serve at Anglicare Southern Queensland.”

At an awards ceremony hosted in Singapore, 25 awards were announced as part of the Ageing Asia 2020: World Ageing Festival 2020. The awards were created to recognise organisations that demonstrate innovation in their business, operational and service models to change the way seniors age.

Click here to read more about the Anglicare Southern Queensland’s work, and their win at the awards.

Benetas staff find spirit in song at the end of a long year
Launched last week at the Anglican aged care provider’s annual Industry Breakfast, Benetas employees raised their voices in a powerful rendition of Vanessa Amorosi’s hit song, Absolutely Everybody, to mark what can only be described as an incredibly hard year.

Reflecting on a significant outbreak at their Western Melbourne aged care home, the Benetas team got together to consider what really matters and recall on what got them through the long year.

While those in aged care were most vulnerable to the virus with often reduced lung capacity and physical resilience, the dedication that each and every aged care employee and volunteer brought to their work day in day out was incredible, said Benetas CEO Sandra Hills.

“They truly worked through the hardest of times to ensure that absolutely everybody received much needed care and support regardless of the personal and professional pressures they faced in doing so.”

“Like all frontline workers during this pandemic, our team put those most vulnerable to the virus at the front and centre of their care. Never has their deep commitment to older Australians been more apparent than this year.

“As a resident from our home who endured a significant outbreak said earlier this week, older Australians are the same as everyone else in the nation.

“This is something that our team know better than anyone and are singing loud and clear to the tune of this today.”

Click here to watch the song. Click here to watch a recording of Benetas’ annual Industry Breakfast.

Anglicare Australia Network members invited to webinar on disaster management
After a year like no other, disaster response and management has been a feature of many conversations across our Network.

To build on these conversations, Anglicare Australia is pleased to invite Network members to a webinar with leading Australian risk and resilience expert, Andrew Gissing, who has agreed to present to his latest research into the role of the community sector in disaster management.

Andrew is a project leader at the Bushfires and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, and Director Government Business and Enterprise Risk Management at Risk Frontiers, with extensive career experience in crisis, risk and emergency management for state governments.

Andrew’s presentation will be accompanied by information sharing from our Network regarding the impact and lessons learnt from natural disasters over the last year.

This is an excellent opportunity for our Network to engage directly with a leading national thinker on our role and needs in times of disaster – a situation sadly we are likely to need to prepare and respond to more frequently.

The webinar will be held at 2pm AEDT on Wednesday 16 December.

For more information about the webinar and how to join, email [email protected].

Housing and Homelessness Network
The Housing and Homelessness Network has begun planning a Zoom meeting, o be held in February next year. The meeting will have a focus on homelessness during and post the COVID pandemic. It will also look at increasing the profile of housing as it relates to other issues such as age, disability and mental health, as well as major changes at the state and territory level. For more information or to express interest in the Network, email [email protected].

National Reconciliation Network
The National Reconciliation Network will hold its final Zoom meeting for the year at 1pm AEDT on Tuesday 8 December. The agenda will focus on Reconciliation Action Plan reporting on employment; anti-racism policies and actions; and future planning priorities. For more information or to express interest in the Network, email [email protected].

First Nations Staff Network
The First Nations Staff Network will hold its final Zoom meeting for the year at 1pm AEDT on Thursday 10 December. It will focus on priorities for 2021. Members of the Network are invited come along to share their thoughts about topics the Network could explore in 2021, or just catch up with your colleagues across the country. For more information or to express interest in the Network, email [email protected].

Research and Resources

New research and resources: Productivity Commission Mental Health report, Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, and more

Youth SurveyYouth Survey Report 2020
Mission Australia
Each year Mission Australia encourages young people aged 15-19 to ‘speak up’ about the issues that concern them through Australia’s largest annual youth survey. Over 25,000 young people participated in 2020. This year, young people reported concerns relating to mental health, the environment, bullying and voice. Other top concerns include experiences of bullying and barriers to achieving post-school goals.

The report is available here.

Mental Health ReportMental health: Productivity Commission inquiry report
Productivity Commission
The Productivity Commission has released the final report from its inquiry into mental health. The report discusses key influences on people’s mental health, and implications more generally for our economy and productivity. Recommended reforms extend across workplaces, schools and universities, the justice system, community groups and services for healthcare, psychosocial support, and housing.

The report is available here.

Royal Commission ReportResidential Care Quality Indicator Profile
Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
This research, prepared by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, was conducted to improve understanding of quality in the aged care system. The report presents over 50 quality indicators about residential aged care including how results are distributed across facilities. It found that aged care residents are up to twice as likely to suffer from serious injuries in a for-profit home as in a government-run one.

The report is available here.

Poverty and a reduced supplementPoverty and a reduced Coronavirus Supplement
The Australia Institute
This analysis, conducted by The Australia Institute, explores the impact that upcoming reductions in JobSeeker will have on the number of people living in poverty, including the number of children. It finds that reducing the coronavirus supplement from $250 per fortnight to $150 per fortnight will push an additional 190,000 people into poverty. This includes an additional 50,000 children aged 0 to 14.

The paper 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.

2021-21 Pre-Budget Submissions
The Federal Government has called for submissions for views and funding calls ahead of the next Federal Budget, to be delivered in May 2021.

As in previous years, Anglicare Australia will be making a submission that highlights our positions on major policy debates, and calls on the Government to act on each of those areas. We can also incorporate calls for federal funding for initiatives across the Network, especially for programs that have been recently cut or defunded by the Federal Government.

Submissions are requested by Friday 29 January 2021. More information is available here. To provide input into Anglicare Australia’s submission, email [email protected].

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, November-December 2020

Upcoming National Reconciliation Network meeting
The National Reconciliation Network will hold its final Zoom meeting for the year on Tuesday 8 December. The agenda will focus on Reconciliation Action Plan reporting on employment; anti-racism policies and actions; and future planning priorities. For more information, email [email protected].

Upcoming First Nations Staff Network Meeting
The First Nations Staff Network will hold its final Zoom meeting for the year at 1pm AEDT on Thursday 10 December. It will focus on priorities for 2021. Members of the Network are invited come along to share their thoughts about topics the Network could explore in 2021, or just catch up with your colleagues across the country. For more information, email [email protected].

Anglicare Australia Network webinar on disaster management
Anglicare Australia is pleased to invite Network members to a webinar with leading Australian risk and resilience expert, Andrew Gissing, who has agreed to present to his latest research into the role of the community sector in disaster management. Andrew’s presentation will be accompanied by information sharing from our Network regarding the impact and lessons learnt from natural disasters over the last year. The webinar will be held at 2pm AEDT on Wednesday 16 December. For more information about the webinar and how to join, email [email protected].

Philanthropy Australia National Conference
The Philanthropy Australia National Conference brings the philanthropic sector and broader community together with the world’s best thinkers, strategists and leading voices to act as a catalyst for change. The effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic will be long-lasting and it’s critical that the philanthropic sector comes together to connect, share learnings, experiences and best-practice approaches to support the new environment and long-term recovery. The conference will be held online from 21-22 April 2021, with follow-up workshops held from 5-6 May 2021. Click here to register.

Finance Essentials Training for NFPs
In 2021, Non Profit Training will host tailored finance training for non-profit organisations. Board members, CEOs and Managers of non-profit organisations come to the role with a mix of skills and experiences that makes their contribution to the overall success of the organisation unique and significant. Many don’t come with an in-depth knowledge of accounting or a head for numbers yet their individual responsibilities often incorporate budget development. This course will equip NFP leaders with the knowledge they require to make better-informed decisions around the finances. Click here to register.

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