Aspect August 2020

Aspect Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Editorial: Rental affordability crashed since March

Kasy ED 4_pref

In April, Anglicare Australia released our annual Rental Affordability Snapshot just as the reality of Australia’s crash into deep recession was starting to bite. Since then, thousands of Australians have lost their jobs and whole regions have been forced to a standstill. We emerged from a national economic shutdown only to encounter a second pandemic wave, with no end in sight. 1.6 million Australians are now locked out of work. Many of these Australians are renters.

In the months that followed, many commentators focused on the plight of homeowners. Others have simply assumed that we have entered a ‘renter’s market’. Rents are going down, they reason, and the market will adjust to meet changing needs.

Now, Anglicare Australia is testing these assumptions with a special update to our Snapshot. We released it just this morning.

What we’ve found is a major disconnect between commentary on the rental market and how it’s actually working for those hardest hit by the pandemic. Many will be surprised to learn that affordability hasn’t improved for people on low incomes. Instead, it has crashed.

It’s true that average rents have gone down. But these price drops are being driven by higher and middle-end rentals, with almost no change at the lower end. At the same time, more and more people are competing for cheaper housing as they try to reduce their costs. That’s putting pressure on people who were already at the bottom of the market. With 1.6 million people locked out of work, the new rate of JobSeeker is the only thing keeping many renters afloat.

These welfare increases have given some people badly needed relief, but the rental market is still failing them. Our findings show that a person who is out of work can afford just 1 percent of rentals – and that’s with their payments doubled. If the Government goes ahead with its plan to cut rates by $150 a week in September, affordability will plummet to 0 percent.

And if payments are halved in December, a person out of work will find just thirteen affordable rentals across the entire country. That’s thirteen out of 77,000 listings.

Age pensioners and people with disability have been left behind completely, locked out of the Government’s payment increases. A person on the Age Pension can afford less than 1 percent of rentals, while a person on the Disability Support Pension can afford 0 percent. Instead of looking after them in the midst of a pandemic, we are leaving many of our most vulnerable citizens to the mercy of the market.

Even people who have hung onto their jobs haven’t been protected from impacts of this recession. A couple on the minimum wage, working full-time with two children can afford 12 percent of rentals. That’s down by almost half since March. This is grim proof of the intense competition for affordable rentals.

All of this seems shocking, but Anglicare Australia and our member agencies knew that renters were on the brink. It has been clear to us that Government actions have not matched the scale of the downturn.

Early on, the Federal Government acted to plug some of the gaping holes in Australia's safety net in order to avoid a major collapse. But these actions were not permanent, and they were not structural. Now, renters again find themselves on the brink.

Rent deferrals and eviction moratoriums are ending soon, and some of our clients are in arrears for thousands of dollars. Many are facing cuts to JobSeeker at the same time. This is a ticking time bomb that threatens to push many renters to the brink, with effects that will echo throughout the economy. For example, landlords often have mortgages on their rental property and higher JobSeeker rates are protecting them from defaults on rental payments. Unless serious action is taken, Australia’s housing system could be rocked.

This is a historic pandemic, and it demands a historic and structural response. Increases to JobSeeker and other payments must become permanent, and they must be expanded to everyone in need. This will help people keep a roof over the heads and buy essential supplies – and in a time of crisis, it will stop them from having to make unfair choices.

In the wake of unprecedented hardship, we need a real, extended moratorium on evictions and debt relief for renters. And we need permanent changes that stop renters from being evicted for no reason.

Finally, it is well past time to invest in social and affordable rentals. Ending our affordable housing shortfall would be the most powerful way to tackle the rental crisis – and boost an economy that’s been battered by natural disasters and a pandemic.

The Prime Minister has said that nobody should be without a home in a health emergency, and he’s right. But I would say that nobody should be without a home, ever. This crisis has been inflamed by the holes that were already in our system.

If we’re to withstand the next crisis, we need to plug these holes, fix the system, and repair our safety net. It’s time to face this crisis together and make sure everyone has a place to call home.

National Office News

National Office News: Rental Affordability Update, Aged Care Employee Day, and more

Anglicare Australia launches update to Rental Affordability Snapshot
Anglicare Australia has released a special mid-year update to its Rental Affordability Snapshot.

Released today, the Snapshot Update surveyed almost 77,000 rental listings across Australia in August. It found that affordability for people on low incomes has actually deteriorated since March. It found that:

  • 808 rentals across Australia (1 percent) are affordable for a person on the new JobSeeker payment, which has been doubled for six months in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • If the government cuts JobSeeker by $150 in September, 168 rentals (0 percent) would be affordable
  • If the government cuts JobSeeker to its old rate in December, just 13 rentals (0 percent) would be affordable
  • Pensioners and people with disability have been left behind with no increase to their payments
  • 0.8% of rentals (625 out of 76,962) are affordable for a person on the Age Pension
  • 0.3% of rentals (192 out of 76,962) are affordable for a person on the Disability Support Pension.

The story was covered extensively by ABC News, Australian Financial Review, The Guardian, Sky News, Seven News, News.Com.Au, The New Daily, and in news segments for ABC News, SBS World News, Channel Ten, Channel Nine, and Channel Seven. Many local papers covered regional results, such as The Canberra Times, Herald Sun, Hobart Mercury, and more. We expect the coverage to continue over the coming days.

To find out more about the results, visit Click here to read Anglicare Australia’s media release.

Anglicare Australia sets out priorities in Budget Submission
Anglicare Australia has made a second submission to the 2020-2021 Federal Budget, building on our original submission made in December. It is based on the insight and expertise of Anglicare Australia’s member organisations, and addresses the interest and experience of the people with whom they work.

As a locally-based network with national reach, Anglicare Australia is already supporting those in need as our economy recovers from Covid-19. As frontline services, we have been closely watching the impact of the pandemic on our communities. While the current focus is rightly on the immediate impacts on individuals and communities, we know from our experiences of past crises that we must prepare for the longer-term social and economic impacts.

Our submission offers insights on how to help people cope with the current crisis, explores the impact of current government measures, and makes recommendations on how to prepare for longer-term impacts.

Click here to read Anglicare Australia's submission, and our original submission made in December.

Homelessness Week marked by Anglicare Australia
Anglicare Australia has called for an urgent boost to social housing in the October budget. The call followed the release of new heatmaps for Homelessness Week by the Everybody’s Home campaign.

“People who are homeless – or at risk of homelessness – are at the forefront of this pandemic. They should be at the forefront of the response,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“These maps show that 116,000 Australians are homeless on any given night. Social housing is the best way to put a roof over their heads, and get secure homes for people who are at risk of becoming homeless.

“But these maps also show that we have a shortfall of at least 430,000 social homes across the country. We must end this shortfall to tackle homelessness, and stop more people from falling into crisis.

“Social housing will offer relief for people who are on the brink of homelessness. It also boosts GDP, and creates jobs in construction for the regions that need it most,” Ms Chambers said.

Click here to read Anglicare Australia's media release.

Anglicare Australia and aged care peaks host key webinar with Professor Terry Lum
Along with other aged care peak bodies, Anglicare Australia has hosted a webinar with guest speaker Professor Terry Lum, the Head of Hong Kong’s Department of Social Work and Social Administration, and Director of the Sau Po Centre for Ageing. Professor Lum has led Hong Kong’s highly successful approach to protecting older people in residential care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Lum was joined by Professor Joe Ibrahim, Professor Kathy Eagar, and Professor Marilyn Cruickshank from the Australasian College of Infection Protection and Control.

The webinar had a specific focus on any changes needed to residential aged care facilities’ preparations and resourcing, and the public health - aged care interface, including the role of hospitals, during an outbreak in Australia. It was also attended by key ministers and government representatives.

For more information on the highlights of the webinar, email [email protected]. The webinar was recorded and will be distributed widely in the coming weeks.

Message for Anglicare Australia aged care workers
Anglicare Australia joined with aged care peak bodies to recognise aged care workers on Aged Care Employee Day. We took part in a media statement and interview, and we also sent a special message to aged care workers across the Anglicare Australia Network:

"Today marks Aged Care Employee Day. It’s designed to celebrate each and every team member involved in the journey of caring for older Australians. In that spirit, I want to thank every one of our staff who cares for older Australians across the country on behalf of the Anglicare Australia Network.

"Each of you forms the backbone of our industry. As we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to think of a more important time to recognise the work you do…"

To read our message to aged care workers, click here. Click here to read the media statement with Anglicare Australia and other aged care peak bodies.

Anglicare Network News

Anglicare Network News

Leon Ankersmit appointed CEO of Anglicare North Coast
Dr Leon AnkersmitA new CEO has been appointed to lead Anglicare North Coast.

Dr Leon Ankersmit will lead Anglicare North Coast through a time of change, bringing almost 30 years of experience in social welfare service delivery. This includes 20 years in program management and strategic leadership.

Leon recently completed a PhD in the field of social work from the University of New South Wales, focusing on partnerships in foster care.

Leon is already well known to many Anglicare Australia members, first joining Anglicare North Coast in 2010 and serving as interim CEO throughout 2020. We’re delighted to welcome him to the role.

First Nations Staff Network and National Reconciliation Network host joint panel
Anglicare Australia’s First Nations Staff Network and National Reconciliation Network have jointly hosted an online panel discussion with the Director of the film In my blood it runs, Maya Newell. Maya was joined on the panel by William Tilmouth, an Arrernte Leader and film advisor, and Jane Vadiveloo, CEO of Children's Ground, who was key in the film's development.

After the panel, we were joined by Sophie Trevitt, Executive Officer of Change the Record. Change the Record is heading up the Raise the Age campaign. Sophie talked us through where the campaign is up to and Network members tossed around some ideas about useful ways we can help.

For more information on the highlights of the webinar, email [email protected] The webinar was recorded and will be distributed widely in the coming weeks.

Anglicare Australia Network members discuss client outcomes
Anglicare Australia Network members have participated in a workshop on measuring client outcomes in community services. Hosted by Anglicare Australia’s Research Network and Clinical and Care Governance Network, it featured presentations from:

  • Professor Erin Wilson, Swinburne University of Technology & Uniting Kildonan Chair in Community Services Innovation
  • John Bellamy, Anglicare Sydney
  • Ross Bentong, Anglicare WA.

The workshop was received by members and helped members of our Network explore how to better measure client outcomes and experience across our work.

Click here to view a video recording of the workshop.

Research and Resources

New research and resources: Anglicare Australia Rental Affordability Update, 100 Families and more

Rental Affordability UpdateRental Affordability Snapshot: Special Update
Anglicare Australia
Anglicare Australia has released a special mid-year update to the Rental Affordability Snapshot. The Snapshot Update surveyed almost 77,000 rental listings across Australia in August. It found that affordability for people on low incomes has actually deteriorated since March, and that the higher rate of JobSeeker is helping to keep many renters afloat. The report is available here.

100 FamiliesThe Impact of COVID-19 on Families in Hardship in Western Australia
The 100 Families WA Project
The 100 Families WA COVID-19 report presents experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, its restrictions, and its early economic and social impacts among 158 family members in the study who completed a supplementary COVID-19 survey between May and July 2020. Anglicare WA is a partner in the 100 Families WA Project. The report is available here.

Housing led recoveryAffordable housing in innovation-led employment strategies
Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute
This report investigates the role of affordable rental housing in supporting innovation-led employment growth in Australia’s metropolitan and satellite cities, especially for regional and outer metropolitan areas. It’s part of a wider inquiry into the role of affordable housing in the labour market and urban productivity with reference to innovation and smart city policy and planning. The report is available here.

Protcting Australia's childrenNational framework for protecting Australia's children indicators
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
This report updates the data for indicators under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children and the National Standards for Out-of-Home Care. It includes updated child protection indicators, along with a variety of other measures that focus on the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children. The report is available here.

Policy, consultations and grants

Policy, consultations and grants

Inquiry into Centrelink’s compliance program – new and supplementary submissions
On 19 November 2019, Services Australia announced that it would no longer raise compliance debts based only on averaged income data, and that it would suspend its debt recovery process. The Committee intends to table an interim report in August 2020 to address evidence in light of this change. The Committee is inviting further submissions, including supplementary submissions from organisations and individuals who have already provided evidence.

Submissions have been reopened, and are due to close on 17 September 2020. More information is available here. Anglicare Australia is 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, August - September 2020

How to powerfully demonstrate your impact using Theory of Change
This 60-minute webinar with Pro Bono Australia and Spark Strategy will provide a step-by-step process for organisations to follow, that will result in a clear narrative for current and potential funders, that will also guide strategic choices. Participants will learn how to develop a theory of change and impact evaluation framework, and develop a narrative that communicates impact. The webinar will be held on 10 September, and tickets are available here.

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.

Ending Homelessness 101
Ending Homelessness is possible, this session will explain how communities around the world are demonstrating this and how communities in Australia are seeking to implement the Zero Homelessness Methodology though the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness’s Advance to Zero Campaign. The session will be useful for anyone interested in learning how to use the methodology in their community and for those who might already be part of a collaborative but are keen to get a more holistic understanding of how the approach works. This session will be held on 29 September, and tickets are available here.

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