Aspect June 2018

Aspect Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Editorial: Paying the price of welfare reform

Kasy ED 4_pref

When staff at Anglicare Tasmania started to notice a big increase in the numbers of people needing help with their Centrelink interactions, they wondered if it was just them. Was there something going on at the Hobart office? Was there something about the changes Centrelink were making to the administration of a particular benefit? Anglicare Tasmania’s Social Action and Research Centre thought it was something worth testing across the organization. When we saw their logic we thought why stop there – let’s study this with other Anglicare Australia members.

The result published this week was a collection of client case studies and a survey of 218 staff across Tasmania, Western Australia and Southern Queensland.  The staff came from many different service types.  They interacted with people with diverse needs, who in turn were interacting with Centrelink. Since we published the report we have contacted by people who have had similar experiences. Indeed, some of the journalists that interviewed us for the story even shared the experience themselves.

The findings backed up our initial thoughts. Interactions with Centrelink were becoming harder for some of our clients and that was being felt in services as staff were spending time helping people make applications, make changes, or even just make contact. 

The catalyst for this increase seems to be the latest round of automation requiring people to use the phone or computer system. Our research centered on interviews with staff, as well as in-depth case studies to find out why this was so problematic.

On the face of it, the automation of systems seems like a good strategy for a system that has half a million interactions with people every day.  The difficulties set in when interaction with an automated system has extended from client choice, to most interactions, to every interaction.

Many of the people we spoke to were vulnerable. They had disabilities, computers weren’t part of their lives, English wasn’t a first language, they had a mental health concern, they were elderly and automated systems weren’t part of their world. In some cases, they were young and totally intimidated.

Many of us find ourselves seeking assistance from Centrelink when we are at our most vulnerable: at times of bereavement, relationship breakdown, family violence, onset of a disability, redundancy, homelessness to name but a few.  Being human, many of the people we spoke with had a mixture of issues.

Add into this the fact that the system itself isn’t quite working.  Both our staff and their clients reported being cut off of phone calls, or dropping out of the queue to be a frustratingly common experience necessitating them to take a deep breath, recharge their phone and start again.  Many of our clients make the economically rational decision to use a pre-paid mobile.  The unease of sitting on hold hearing your credit ticking away and wondering whether you will have enough left for the conversation when you eventually get through just adds to the anxiety.

We undertook this research to assist us in understanding the issue, and then to share that with the department responsible for Centrelink and its automation, Human Services.  Automation might suit people seeking to undertake everyday transactions, and for those that have an ongoing relationship with Centrelink. But for those who are vulnerable, that have complex circumstances, or for whom it is a first contact, we need a system that can respond accordingly.

It may be old fashioned, but it is our experience that it is often the simple human contact which moves things on, prevents things sliding, and makes a difference in many situations.  

It is shortsighted at best and callous at worst to think that the money saved by people not getting the benefit to which they are entitled is a good thing.  We found that the cost-shifting to our services was expensive and inefficient, preventing services from their work in helping people to prepare for work, find housing, or address their budgeting issues. But this isn’t about us, our staff or our services. That is just the symptom. The real cost is to those seeking assistance to which they are entitled by virtue of their citizenship. And it means is that we are preventing them from contributing to the community for longer.

This research isn’t about Centrelink bashing. We know that Centrelink staff are often as frustrated as their clients are anxious.  And it isn’t about government bashing either. Systems take time to settle in, and systems must be developed with the end user and outcome in mind.

This level of automation is not fit for purpose for people who are vulnerable or in complex situations – and it is certainly not fit for purpose when the risk of getting it wrong is borne by the individual. For the people who Centrelink is there to help, the cost of getting it wrong could mean the loss of food, shelter and dignity.

National Office News

National Office News: Anglicare Australia holds CEO Forum and releases landmark report

Anglicare Australia holds annual CEO forum
IMG_2163Anglicare Australia has held its annual CEO Forum, featuring a two-day program. The first day of business brought CEOs from the Anglicare Australia Network together to discuss national priorities.

Our guest dinner speaker at the Forum was Professor John Hewson, former Opposition Leader and Chair of the Tax and Transfer Institute at the Australian National University. Our CEOs had a wide ranging discussion with Professor Hewson that explored challenges in developing public policy and the changing political debate in Australia.

ShortenThe second day involved the Anglicare CEOs meeting with a succession of politicians for discussions on their area of expertise. Some of these discussions have resulted in further contact between politicians and our CEOs.

Politicians who spent time with CEOs were:

  • The Hon Bill Shorten MP, Leader of the Opposition
  • The Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Social Services
  • The Hon Michael Keenan MP, Minister for Human Services
  • The Hon Ken Wyatt MP, Minister for Aged Care; Minister for Indigenous Health
  • The Hon David Gillespie MP, Assistant Minister for Children and Families
  • The Hon Jane Prentice MP, Assistant Minister for Social and Disability Services
  • Sen Louise Pratt, Shadow Minister for Children and Families
  • Sen Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens
  • Sen Rex Patrick, Leader, Centre Alliance
  • Sen Tim Storer, independent

Due to the tax package passing through Parliament, the Treasurer was an apology.

Anglicare Australia Network releases landmark report on Centrelink automation
Anglicare Australia has called on the Government to properly fund Centrelink to identify and assist vulnerable clients. The call follows the release of a landmark study on the impact of Centrelink automation on Anglicare staff and clients.

Anglicare Report and BriefThe research was conducted across three different jurisdictions by Anglicare Southern Queensland, Anglicare Tasmania, and Anglicare Western Australia. It involved surveys and face to face interviews with a total of 218 staff, and a collection of client case studies.

“Our research found that people are falling through the cracks as Centrelink services become more and more automated. Centrelink might believe that it’s saving time and money, but what it’s really doing is shifting the burden onto its clients and the services that help them,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

The report was covered on ABC News, Win News, SBS News and Nine News. The report was written up by news outlets including The Guardian, Fairfax newspapers, and Pro Bono News. The report was also covered by youth outlets such as Triple J’s Hack, and specialist ageing sites such as and Starts at 60.

Click here to read Anglicare Australia’s media release. A copy of the full report, and a report brief, are also available.

Anglicare Australia keeps up pressure to protect community advocacy
Anglicare Australia has joined a coalition of leading Australian charities and non-profits in outlining its non-negotiable ‘red lines’ to on proposed laws that would hurt community advocacy.

Members of alliance have pledged to only accept new or amended laws that ensure:

  • The ability of charities and NFPs to use funding (including international funding) for issues-based advocacy is not restricted
  • There is a clear distinction between issues-based advocacy and politically partisan electioneering. This should be consistent with the distinction drawn in the Charities Act 2013
  • Charities and NFPs don't face a greater compliance burden than they do presently, and charities and NFPs are not subject to more extensive regulatory controls and administrative requirements or criminal offences than other third parties
  • Donors of gifts that are not intended or used for promoting or opposing a candidate or a party for political office should not be subject to new public reporting or registration requirements
  • A clear and precise regime that is unambiguous. Charities and NFPs should not be left wondering what parts of a regime apply to them and when they apply
  • Charities and NFPs are free to cooperate on issues-based advocacy to advance issues of public interest, including by working with non- Australian citizens and non-permanent Australian residents.

Labor and the Greens have pledged their support for the principles, and the story was covered in The Guardian, Buzzfeed, SBS, and Pro Bono News.

Divisive Migrants Bill must be rejected
As part of an alliance of peak bodies and welfare groups, Anglicare Australia has called on Labor, Green and crossbench Senators to reject a Government move to force new migrants to wait longer before they can access various social security payments.

The number of people eligible for support has reduced dramatically since August 2017, when the Government made changes to the SRSS program without consulting service providers or peak bodies. Many are now coming to organisations who receive no government funding.

If the changes are passed, 13,000 people nationally, including families with children, could lose all income support and are at risk of being left homeless.

The media statement is available here. Anglicare Australia has also been featured in media about the changes.

Register for Anglicare Australia’s 2018 Conference
LogoIt is with great pleasure that Anglicare Australia invites you to the 2018 Anglicare Australia National Conference, to be held at the Stanford Grand Glenelg in Adelaide, from 16-19 September, 2018. Early bird registrations have now opened, and registrations are open online.

Our theme for 2018, Courage in Kindness: Driving Change in Work and Community, captures our work and our mission. Individually we are strong and together we are even stronger. We work in hundreds of communities across Australia, responding to the needs of people in need of care. As a network we are working towards our shared goals, collaborating to improve our work, and supporting each other as we advance our mission.

Speakers will include:

  • Dr Rebecca Huntley, social researcher and media commentator
  • Kate Hillman, Director at Ernst and Young
  • Professor John Pollaers, Chair of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce
  • Associate Professor Lorna Hallahan, disability expert
  • David Pearson, Executive Director of the Don Dunstan Foundation
  • Associate Professor Alwin Chong, Indigenous health and families expert
  • Debra Saffrey-Collins will deliver the annual John Roffey Lecture

Delegates will be treated to concurrent sessions from experts from across the Anglicare network; some outstanding keynote addresses; and networking opportunities throughout the three days. And as always, we will kick off on Sunday evening with an opening service on Sunday night.

Click here to register for the Anglicare Australia National Conference. When registering, please ensure that you request an invoice. Do not register with a credit card.

Nominations Open: National Awards for Innovation and Excellence
anglicare-australia-national-awardsNominations have opened for the Anglicare Australia National Awards for Innovation and Excellence.

The Anglicare Australia National Awards for Innovation and Excellence, sponsored by Telstra, recognise outstanding services, projects and programs provided by the organisations of the Anglicare Australia network, as well as individual volunteers who have made a significant contribution.

The awards are an opportunity to promote successful programs within Anglicare agencies, or recognise the contributions of outstanding volunteers.

Click here to download a nomination form or find out more about the awards.

Anglicare Network News

Anglicare Network News

Aged and Community Care Network held forum on The Mission and the Margin
The Anglicare Australia Aged and Community Care Network met in May in Brisbane, with nearly 40 people across nine organisations coming together to discuss how we can meet our mission and make the margin, amongst the pressure of increasing expectations of quality and efficiency in aged care service delivery.

missionandmarginOn day one, attendees discussed their main priorities for aged care policy change, the relative urgency of these issues and how the Anglicare Australia Network can contribute to and lead this change. Priority areas were identified across five main themes of; workforce, choice and control (or quality, wellness and re-ablement), residential care system and profile, care at home and broader social responsibility.

The day concluded with an engaging dinner talk from Mr Rob Ryan, CEO Key Assets, who encouraged attendees to reflect on our agencies as “for-purpose” and the importance of leaders retaining the fire and passion for their work.

On day two, six presenters from across the network shared about their experiences of striving to meet the mission amongst the increasing pressures of quality standards and a competitive marketplace. Presentations included increasing connection with local communities and building faith in providers responding to “unmets”;  lessons in supporting staff and culture in making time for people (and unannounced site visits!); and business model changes to allow organisations to maintain values and do more with less.

As always this year’s forum allowed us to reflect on and explore our work in greater depth with like-minded colleagues, sharing insight and inspiration from right across the country.  We’re very grateful to Anglicare Southern Queensland for hosting a fantastic event and dinner and contributing substantially to the discussion and debate.

Click here to download the ACCN May meeting report. For more information about the network, contact Ingrid Hatfield on [email protected].

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network Meeting at Conference
The Anglicare Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network, led by Sonia Waters (AnglicareSA) and Kathy Donnelly (Anglicare Sydney) will meet at the Anglicare Australia National Conference on the Monday afternoon network session (17 September, from 3:45pm). Anglicare Australia encourages all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff from across the network to attend this network meeting.

For more information about the network and this session, contact Sonia Waters on [email protected] or Ingrid Hatfield on [email protected].

Anglicare Victoria’s Kathleen Hobson awarded Medal of the Order of Australia
KathleenKathleen Hobson of Anglicare’s emergency relief centre in Ballarat has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday celebrations. Mrs Hobson said her fortunate life drove her to help others.

“Anglicare has grown tremendously since I became involved, a much bigger organisation,” Mrs Hobson said, having worked for 20 years with the emergency relief team. “That’s been very exciting.”

“When you see how many underprivileged people we do have in Ballarat, that’s the sadness of it... When you think about it, you say, ‘I’d like every child in Ballarat to have the privileges my children have had.’

Click here to find out more about Kathleen Hobson and her work.

AnglicareSA Stretch RAP Launch
AnglicareSA launched its second Reconciliation Action Plan during Reconciliation Week this year. The Stretch RAP sets out the steps we will take to increase our engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, culture and communities.

SARAPThis includes improving the opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to participate in our business as employees, as suppliers, as customers, and partners. It also includes the important work we need to continue to do to ensure our staff, programs and services are culturally proficient.

The plan sets out actions that AnglicareSA is now publicly accountable for delivering. Once delivered, and like other organisations in the RAP community, we will then explore new actions and opportunities as we make our contribution to reconciliation in Australia.

Click here to download the AnglicareSA RAP.

CommBank makes a grant to Anglicare WA’s Y-Shac Spearwood
As part of its Centenary of Giving celebrations, the Commonwealth Bank partnered with CommBank Foundation to provide a grant to Anglicare WA’s Y-Shac youth accommodation facility in Spearwood.

y-shacY-Shac is one of Anglicare WA’s housing support services for young people aged between 15 and 20 years, either homeless or at risk of it in crisis accommodation. It also supports youth between 16 and 25 years in transitional housing.

Y-Shac services include connecting young people to secure accommodation, the chance to grow skills and to connect to the right type of services enabling them to cope with life’s challenges. Other services offered at Y-Shac include advocacy, referral, drug education, case management, goal setting, financial planning, and budgeting.

Click here to learn more about Y-Shad and the CommBank grant.

National Awards Profile

2017 Awards profile: Early Childhood Early Intervention Program, Samaritans Foundation

Welcome to our series of profiles on the winners and highly commended of the Anglicare Australia 2017 National Awards for Innovation and Excellence. These profiles are featured in the 2018 Anglicare Australia Review.

ARTICLE 10 - Samaritans Early Childhood 1The Samaritans Foundation’s Early Childhood Early Intervention is offers support to children aged between 0-12 years through the National Disability Insurance Scheme. It was Highly Commended at the 2017 Anglicare Australia Awards in the Excellence category.

The Program engages with families, educational providers and community support services on the Mid North Coast of NSW. It offers support to children living with autism, developmental delay or other disability. It does this by offering home visits, advocacy, school visits, and day-to-day management.

ARTICLE 10 - Samaritans Early Childhood 2The core focus of this service is to support families with their identified daily challenges and the service is delivering excellence in its role offering transition provider support – providing assistance to families to help them navigate the NDIS process and goals.

The judges said that this is a strong, multi-disciplinary initiative. They were impressed by its sheer scope covering NDIS readiness, strengths-based interventions, and collaboration with academic and Indigenous sectors. They have highly commended this program for excellence in client services and excellence in service provision.

Research and Resources

New research and resources: Australian NGO Coalition, QUT, ABS and AIHW

AnglicarePaying the Price of Welfare Reform
Anglicare Southern Queensland, Anglicare Tasmania, and Anglicare Western Australia
This research looks at the impact of Centrelink automation on staff and clients of Anglicare Southern Queensland, Anglicare Tasmania, and Anglicare Western Australia. It involved surveys and face to face interviews with a total of 218 staff, and a collection of client case studies.

The report is available here

NGO CoalitionAustralia’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
Australian NGO Coalition Submission
The report examines Australia’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The report is intended to inform the Committee’s sixth review of Australia during its 121st session in October/November 2017. In October, a delegation of nine NGOs will present the report to the Committee in Geneva.

The report is available here.

Giving by postcode
QUT Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies
This resource helps you find out how much the taxpayers in each postcode and occupation claimed in their individual income tax returns for deductible gifts. This can help us learn which parts of Australia are the most likely to make donations.

The resource is available here.

AIHWNew National data on the health of justice-involved young people: a feasibility study 2016–17
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Currently, little information exists at the national level about the health of young people under youth justice supervision in Australia. This report outlines how this critical data gap might be addressed into the future through the use of currently available data and data linkage.

The report is available here.

Labour Force in
Australian Bureau of Statistics
The is the latest release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ jobs figures. It shows that monthly trend unemployment rate remained steady at 5.5 per cent, and outlined some trends in employment across Australia.

The report is available here.

Policy, consultations and grants

New consultations and grants

Inquiry into the 'Protecting Your Superannuation' Package
The Senate Economics Legislation Committee is conducting an inquiry into the Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Bill 2018. Anglicare Australia will make a submission to this inquiry. To provide input, contact [email protected].

Submissions close Monday 9 July 2018. More information is available here.

Inquiry into the Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion
The Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee is conducting an inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018. Anglicare Australia will make a submission to this inquiry. To provide input, contact [email protected].

Submissions close Friday 20 July 2018. 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 is conducting this 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.

National Disability Agreement Review
The Productivity Commission will review the National Disability Agreement, including by examining progress against the performance framework in the Agreement and the extent to which it has supported improved outcomes for people with disability, their families, and carers.

Submissions close on Friday December 21 2018. More information is available here.

Sector Events

Sector Events, June 2018

HESTA Community Sector Awards
Nominations are now open for the 2018 HESTA Community Sector Awards, recognising people and organisations making exceptional contributions to social justice in Australia. The national Awards recognise excellence in service provision, advocacy and leadership in the community sector. Anyone can nominate an individual or organisation with nominations closing on 03 August 2018. More information is available here.

Lived Experience Summit
The inaugural Lived Experience Summit will be held in Brisbane on 21-22 August 2018. The meaningful inclusion and engagement of people with a lived experience of suicide is a new phenomenon, and Australia is paving the way internationally. The event will be workshop based with organisations and researchers bringing specific projects or topics of discussion to the table for lived experience input and guidance. Opportunity then exists for project participants to remain connected and continue working together. More information is available here.

Anglicare Australia National Conference
The 2018 Anglicare Australia National Conference will be held at the Stamford Grand Glenelg in Adelaide, from 16-19 September, 2018. Our theme for 2018 is Courage in Kindness: Driving Change in Work and Community. This is a professional development prospect that will give you the opportunity to share your ideas and experiences, and celebrate your progress and plans for the future. More information is available here.

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 Anti-Poverty Week will be held from the 14th to the 20th of October. Anglicare Australia is a principal national sponsor of Anti-Poverty Week, and Anglicare WA’s Ian Carter is a national co-chair. More information is available here.

'A Day in the Life': Connecting politicians, senior bureaucrats with financial counselling agencies
Many Anglicare agencies employ financial counsellors – they know already that financial counsellors provide advice to people struggling with bills and debts. But too often key decision makers – our politicians and their advisors or our senior bureaucrats - don't understand the role. That's why Financial Counselling Australia (FCA), the peak body for financial counsellors is putting together its "Day in the Life" project. Visits will be organised between September and November 2018. To find out more, contact [email protected] or call Rita Battaglin 0403 220 777.

Family and Relationship Services Australia National Conference
The FRSA National Conference is one of the largest annual gatherings of practitioners, academics and policy makers working to support children, families and communities. It will feature a number of highly acclaimed keynote presenters, as well as federal ministers and sector leaders with a focus on delivering the most effective services to children, families and young people. The Conference will be held on the 20-23 November, 2018 at the Pullman Cairns International Hotel. More information is available here.

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