Aspect August 2017

Aspect Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Editorial: We must strengthen the safety net, not tear it apart

Roland Manderson

There has been much interest in the Government’s proposed drug testing regime for welfare recipients.

There have been opinion pieces, analyses of overseas research, and countless column inches devoted to the subject. When the Government announced its trial sites last week, Malcolm Turnbull made headlines when said that the tests were “all about love”. Minister Christian Porter then said that subjecting people to these tests was actually about helping them.

Attention on the drug tests will only intensify before the Bills come to Parliament next month. And the focus is understandable. With no overseas evidence, no expert support, and no plans to ensure rehabilitation services, the drug testing regime is likely to be an expensive failure. Anglicare Australia has joined the call to abandon the tests, which have not worked anywhere internationally and have sucked valuable funds from services that could actually help people.

But there is much more to the welfare package before Parliament than drug testing. It is only one part of a larger package that will chip further away at our safety net.

The changes would create a demerit system for Centrelink recipients, expand the cashless card welfare trial, penalise job seekers who miss appointments, and force people to run down their savings before they can seek help.

Other measures mean that personal crises, such as family violence, relationship breakdown, or homelessness, could not be considered when people have problems completing their paperwork.

And in a move that is perhaps more malicious than the drug tests themselves, help would be denied to people who have been harmed by their addiction, either by ending their payments or moving them onto lower ones. That suggests this agenda is neither about love nor about help.

In all, the proposed changes would cut almost half a billion dollars from support payments over three years. The losses will be incurred by those who can least can afford them, and in the end, even these savings will prove to be a mirage. As many in the Anglicare network would know, the costs of providing emergency services to people in extreme need are far higher.

In fact this was never about saving money. Income support payments simply aren’t the drain that tax concessions for the wealthy are.

The cost of our full social security program is $109.9 billion. The vast and growing proportion of that is made up of the aged pension at $44.2 billion. If we factor in the tax payments for superannuation, which we should, that’s another $50 billion. The cost of the grossly inadequate Newstart and Youth Allowance payments, the target of these changes, is only $14.6 billion, and shrinking as a proportion of our GDP.

So income support payments, which are about making society fairer and more equal, are dwarfed by other costs. Negative gearing, capital gains tax discounts and superannuation tax concessions are all payments that advantage the wealthy, those who have already benefited from the prosperity generated by economic growth.

This willingness to subsidise privilege and accentuate poverty is another symptom of a country facing growing inequality, where the basic cost of living is rising faster than wages or government payments. Instead of making our social security system fairer and bringing it into line with global standards, the proposed changes would make Australia less fair and less equal.

We know that these changes aren’t about evidence, because there isn’t any. And we know they aren’t about cutting costs, because we could cut much more from generous tax concessions for people who don’t need them.

They seem instead to be about entrenching a system that spends more on wealth for the wealthy than help for those in need; leaving people trapped in poverty and sentenced to an endless search for jobs that quite simply, aren’t there.

So the proposed drug tests serve a dual purpose. They are one part of that agenda, but they also serve as a distraction from it.

Anglicare Australia will continue to oppose the introduction of the drug tests, but we cannot afford to lose sight of the bigger picture. If we want a fairer society for those we work with, we must join with others to push for a stronger social safety net – and resist efforts to tear it apart. 

Roland Manderson
Anglicare Australia Deputy Director

National Office News

National Office News: Welfare changes, National Conference and more

Government must abandon cruel welfare changes
Anglicare Australia has urged the government to abandon its proposed welfare changes, making two submissions to government's bills, representing Anglicare Australia at a Senate Committee hearing, and attending a roundtable hosted by Labor spokesperson Jenny Macklin MP. Anglicare Australia has also signed on to a joint statement with the Australian Council of Social Service and other community organisations.

“Anglicare Australia’s research shows that people are already competing for jobs that just aren’t there. Forcing people to spend their savings or take drug tests before they can get help won’t achieve anything,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“The quest for savings through these measures is unethical, and the savings themselves are a mirage.

“There is plenty of evidence that cutting people’s income only leads to crisis – and the costs of providing emergency services to people in extreme need are far higher.”

Ms Chambers offered to host any representative of the Government, Opposition or crossbench to visit an Anglicare service.

“These changes will take a huge toll on the people who can least afford it. We’re sure that anyone who sees that for themselves will reject them."

Click here to read Anglicare Australia's media release and click here to download our submissions to the two bills. Our work on the proposals was covered in The Guardian, ABC News, and through our joint press conference with the Australian Council of Social Service.

Opinion piece: What the Dickens is the point of blaming poor people for their lot
In an Opinion Piece published on the Huffington Post, Executive Director of Anglicare Australia Kasy Chambers responds to the proposed welfare changes: 
“It’s nearly 150 since Charles Dickens’ death, but we still use his work to help us understand inequality and unfairness… As the Government prepares to introduce its welfare changes to the parliament, I have not so much been reminded of Dickens’ work as unable to think of little else. Behavioural measures aimed at those unfortunate enough to be unemployed, based on the presumption that they are greedy and manipulative, can only be described as cruel.”

To read the full opinion piece, click here.

Anglicare Australia joins church providers to condemn drug testing
Anglicare Australia joined with UnitingCare Australia and Catholic Social Services Australia on 8 August 2017 to call on Parliament to reject the government's proposed drug testing regime.

“With no expert support and no plans to ensure rehabilitation services, the drug testing regime will only do more harm,” Anglicare Australia’s Deputy Director Mr Manderson said.

Click here to read the full media release.

Charities must be able to speak up: Anglicare Australia submission on DGR proposals
Anglicare Australia has opposed moves to regulate or cut back on the advocacy work of charities in a submission to the Tax Deductible Gift Recipient Reform Opportunities Discussion Paper.

"The best use of tax deductible donations is the support of advocacy by charities and community sector organisations," Deputy Director of Anglicare Australia Roland Manderson said.

Click here to read Anglicare Australia's media release and click here to download our submission.

Register for Anglicare Australia’s 2017 National 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. Our keynote speakers will include Hugh Mackay, Verity Firth, Tanya Herscht, and more. In addition, a panel themed Our Mission: Disrupted, will explore the changing digital landscape and feature speakers from Nous Group, InfoXchange, and Tigerspike.

This year, our presentations will be divided into four thematic streams exploring client experience and person-centred delivery, working with communities, our role in the market, and organisational development. Conference delegates and speakers will also be treated to a harbour cruise followed by dinner at Luna Park.

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.

Launch of the Digital Inclusion Index 2017 report
On Aug 1, the Second National Digital inclusion Index report was launched by Telstra’s CEO, Andy Penn. The Index provides four years of trend data across 60 geographic regions and a range of socio-demographic groups in Australia. This year’s report looks in particular into mobile-only internet users, people with disability and Indigenous Australians.

As Andy Penn said, "It's always those who can least afford to be left behind by technology who are left behind."

Anglicare Australia’s Roland Manderson is a member of the ADII Research Advisory team.

Click here to download the 2017 Australian Digital Inclusion Index report.

Forum on the impacts of user choice reforms
Anglicare Australia, through Roland Manderson, joined a number of other key sector groups at a forum organised by the Red Cross to explore how the user choice reforms could be made to properly support the most vulnerable Australians.

Productivity Commission Inquiry into Human Services
The Productivity Commission invited Anglicare Australia to join others from the social housing sector to a round table to discuss the Commission’s draft report on increasing contestability and enhancing user choice.

Click here to download Anglicare Australia’s submission to the Productivity Commission.

Update from the National Aged Care Alliance
The Aged Care Alliance enjoyed meeting with key staff from the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services, and exchanging intelligence – if that’s the right term – on the various reviews and inquiries underway.

The Alliance agreed to develop a position paper on affordable and appropriate housing for older Australians, and put forward a number of people the new Care at Home Advisory Group. Anglicare Australia will be represented on that group by Marcela Carrasco from Anglicare Sydney.

Anglicare Network News

Anglicare Network News

Anglicare Victoria says that drug tests add to winter of welfare discontent
It has been a long cold winter for Australia’s disadvantaged. Massive increases in energy costs and record disconnection rates were recorded and for people who don’t own a house the proportion of affordable rental accommodation slipped to a record low.

Meanwhile, Australia’s 750,000 Newstart recipients began their 23rd year of no real increase in their welfare payments, gradually slipping further below the poverty line. And as poverty is the main driver of homelessness, this winter at least 105,000 people were homeless, many of them sleeping rough and outside in freezing temperatures in the southern parts of Australia.

Meanwhile back in Canberra, a small team of officials assembled to receive submissions on the federal Government’s welfare crackdown bill which the Senate referred to a parliamentary committee in the dying days of the autumn session.

Click here to read the full opinion piece by Anglicare Victoria CEO Paul McDonald and click here to read Anglicare Victoria’s media release.

Anglicare Sydney concerned about citizenship changes
Anglicare Sydney has expressed concerns about the changes to Citizenship laws in a recent Senate inquiry.

“Our refugee and asylum seeker clients long for a day where they can proudly call themselves Australian citizens. Many are stateless, with no secure home to return to, and Australian citizenship will be the only national citizenship they will ever hold. We are concerned that despite the rhetoric of the ‘fair-go’, our Federal Government is making it harder for these people to become citizens of this country,” said Sue King, Research and Advocacy Manager.

“We are concerned that the proposed English competency test could be at odds with the overarching principles of inclusivity and equality of opportunity that should be at the heart of the review process.

“We cannot support measures that unfairly discriminate between different migrant and refugee groups in Australia by screening prospective citizens on criteria that do not accurately assess their commitment to Australia and its people.”

Click here for more information on Anglicare Sydney’s work with new migrants and refugees.

Brother of St Laurence pilot program assists hundreds of asylum seekers into the workforce
The Brotherhood of St Laurence's Given the Chance program has assisted hundreds of asylum seekers to find their first jobs in Australia. Supported by a private philanthropist, the program aims to assist asylum seekers with bridging visas living in Melbourne, to get into, and stay in, the workforce. Since its launch, 421 participants have found a job.

Outcomes in 2015–16 look promising, with an overall placement rate of 56%, and a retention rate of 68% of these after six months of employment. These findings are contained in a new report Giving asylum seekers a chance: insights from a pilot employment program by Brotherhood researchers, John van Kooy and Agathe Randrianarisoa, who have evaluated the program’s first phase.

The research points to the program’s value to the wider community, with an unpublished cost-benefit analysis conducted by the Australian and New Zealand School of Government indicating that for every $1 of investment in the program, society receives a return of $1.52 in consumption, taxes paid and reduced welfare expenditure.

This program was highly commended in the partnership category at the 2016 Anglicare Australia National Awards for Innovation and Excellence. Click here to read more about the program's results.

Love them and let them go, says EPIC Assist
A recent screening of ABC’s Australian Story featured the captivating tale of a couple who decided to take an unorthodox approach to challenging their son’s disability. Just as 14-year-old Sam was entering adolescence, his family insisted he embark upon a six-month backpacking trip around Africa with his father, Dr James Best.

This would not be overly noteworthy if not for the fact that Sam has autism; a disability where routine, order and predictability are considered essential for the person to thrive. Throwing a young man into a chaotic, unfamiliar setting is widely considered the exact opposite of ‘what the doctor ordered’.

Bill Gamack, who is CEO of disability not-for-profit EPIC Assist, says while this radical experiment isn’t possible or practical for everyone, it does highlight the merits of embracing the path less travelled.

“There’s no denying it would have been far easier for James and Benison to keep Sam’s life controlled, closely managed and routine. Bucking the status quo is always going to make waves, on many levels,” said Bill, who also has a close family member with autism.

Click here to read and the full story and find out more about EPIC Assist’s work.

Anglicare Tasmania research shows removing poker machines is good for the economy
Removing poker machines from hotels and clubs would be a boon for the Tasmanian economy, a new independent economic report commissioned by Anglicare Tasmania has found.

Anglicare Tasmania said the report shows it’s in the best economic interests of Tasmania to remove poker machines from hotels and clubs.

"Evidence has always been clear on the devastating harm that poker machines cause to Tasmanian families," said Meg Webb of Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre.

"This report adds an economic argument to the considerable social and health evidence that shows Tasmania would benefit from taking poker machines out of our local suburbs," said Ms Webb.

Click here to download the report, ‘Removing poker machines from hotels and clubs in Tasmania: Economic considerations’, and click here to support Anglicare Tasmania's campaign to remove poker machines from our communities.

AnglicareSA prepares for Anglicare Sunday
AnglicareSA Speakers are preparing to speak at Anglicare Sunday on 8 October 2017, and in the Months of October to December during what is known as the Anglicare Quarter across the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide.

Anglicare Sunday is an opportunity to share stories of the vast and varied work of AnglicareSA with people in parishes in the Anglican Community of which AnglicareSA is a part.

AnglicareSA speakers will be available at Sunday morning church services to tell the stories of the work they do, as well as sharing the wider work of AnglicareSA and how it connects with our vision and values.

To arrange a speaker, or to participate as a representative of AnglicareSA, please contact Jill Rivers on [email protected].

Family Children and Communities network meeting
Anglicare Australia’s Family, Children and Communities Network met in Adelaide on 4 August, hosted by Sue Christophers at Anglicare SA.

Glenda Devlin led a great session about working with the most disadvantaged people, noting not that everyone wants a case manager and a raft of life changes. Sometimes, it really is just help with food or managing a bill.

Karen Barker from Anglicare WA gave us a good insight into how to build outcomes focus, and measurement, across the breadth of your organisation and we were all keen to find out more about that.

Another key discussion was around the Sanctuary model - and how trauma informed care can itself inform the work of a whole organisation, and that will be the focus of a day long forum to put on early next year.

Network members who are in Melbourne, for the FRSA Conference in November will catch up then. Contact Glenda Devlin or Sue Christophers for more information.

There will be an APP Group meeting at our National Conference for people interested in or working on an app that clients can use to link in to Anglicare services. 1:30-2:30pm Wednesday 20 September 2017.

National Awards Profile

Awards profile: EPIC Assist and Compass Group

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.

RICKEPIC Assist initiated a partnership with Compass Group in September 2015. This partnership was developed to address a need for Compass Group to increase the diversity of their workforce through hiring people with a disability. 

EPIC uses an innovative and personalised approach for both employers and participants, turning the often-used supply-driven model of Disability Employment Services (DES) on its head. 

The partnership between EPIC and Compass Group implements a demand-driven service model, where EPIC identifies the requirements of the employer, and matches the participant best suited to the role.

This partnership has been successful on two fronts: 90 percent of participants put forward for positions at Compass Group successfully gained employment; and existing employees within Compass Group who had not disclosed their disability have come forward, now knowing they will be supported.

The judges said that the partnership with Compass was personal and brought a real commitment to the need for a sustainable placement to be totally appropriate to the person and the employer.

Research and Resources

New research: SPRC, Mission Australia, AHURI and VCOSS

SPRCBudget Standards: A new healthy living minimum income standard for low-paid and unemployed Australians
Social Policy Research Centre
This report builds on previous Australian and recent international research to develop a set of budget standards for low-paid and unemployed Australians and their families. The results will be used to inform debate and guide decisions about the adequacy of minimum wages and income support payments for the unemployed required to support healthy living consistent with individual needs and prevailing community standards. The report is available here.

Mission AustraliaYouth Mental Health and Homelessness Report
Mission Australia
The report highlights that young people with a probable serious mental illness are 3.5 times more likely to have spent time away from their home because they felt they couldn’t go back and nearly twice as likely to have spent time away from home on six or more occasions compared to their peers. Nearly half of all young people who said they had spent time away from home reported high levels of concern about family conflict. The report is available here.

AHURIModelling housing need in Australia to 2025
Australian Housing and Urban Policy Institute
This research delivers, for the first time in Australia, a consistent and replicable methodology for housing need assessment that can be used to inform resource allocation and simulate the impact of policy decisions on housing outcomes. The results reveal the extent of the shortfall in affordable housing, now and moving forward, and the additional pressure placed on the housing assistance budget due to the growth in households requiring support in the private rental market. The report is available here.

VCOSSPower struggles: everyday struggles to stay connected
Victorian Council of Social Service
This research finds that people are making sacrifices to pay utility bills, including cutting back on food and going without heating, cooling or lighting. People on low incomes are reducing energy and water use in ways most people wouldn’t have to contemplate. The report is available here.

Policy, consultations and grants

New consultations and grants

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 extended to Monday 4 September 2017. More information is available here.

Inquiry into the NDIS Amendment (Quality and Safeguards Commission and Other Measures) Bill 2017
This inquiry will investigate legislation that allows for Practice Standards, a Code of Conduct, and compliance monitoring for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Submissions close Tuesday 5 September 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.

Inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017
This inquiry will investigate legislation that extends the trail of the cashless debit card, one of the measures announced as part of the Government’s welfare package in this year’s budget.

Submissions close Friday 29 September 2017. More information is available here.

Sector Events

Sector Events, August, 2017

Anglicare Australia National Conference
The 2017 Anglicare Australia National Conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza at Coogee Beach, from 17-20 September, 2017. Our theme for 2017 is Stronger Together: Our Mission in the Marketplace. 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.

Anti-Poverty Week
Anti-Poverty Week is a week where all Australians are encouraged to organise or take part in an activity aiming to highlight or overcome issues of poverty and hardship here in Australia or overseas. It was established in Australia as an expansion of the UN's annual International Anti-Poverty Day on October 17. In 2017 Anti-Poverty Week will be held from the 15th to the 21st of October. Anglicare Australia is a principal national sponsor of Anti-Poverty Week.

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.

FRSA National Conference
The 2017 FRSA National Conference: Connecting the dots: Creating wellbeing for all is an opportunity to promote creative ways to strengthen wellbeing across the family life course – together, and by connecting people, sectors, disciplines and many more ‘dots’. It will be held at the Convention Centre in Melbourne from 22-24 November 2017.

Anglicare Australia HR Network meeting
The Anglicare Australia HR Network will hold a meeting on Wednesday 14 March to Friday 16 March 2018. Staff with interest in and responsibility for HR are invited to join this meeting and learn from the experience of others and provide leadership themselves. Further information on the meeting location and program will be available shortly.

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