Aspect June 2020

Aspect Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Editorial: Time to share JobSeeker stories

Kasy ED 4_pref

As we head towards the middle of the year it is incredible to look back at all that has happened in these short months. The disruption we’ve seen has been immense – but it’s also been deeply personal for those who have seen their lives turned upside down.

The Coronavirus pandemic is the latest crisis for people and communities who have been dealing with crisis after crisis. 

Short of a crystal ball, I don’t know that anyone could have predicted a backflip after twenty years of obstinate refusal to raise the rate of the Newstart. Now newly minted as Jobseeker, doubling the rate was the federal government’s response to the personal crises facing countless Australians.

Of course that doubling has been called a ’supplement’ to allow it to be unwound. And that is what we must prevent.

I’ve written about this more times than I can remember. In the last ten years Anglicare Australia has done research on the inadequacy of government benefits; we’ve gathered stories of people with budgeting skills and resilience; we’ve considered the future of children that grow up in poverty; and we’ve modelled the impact of poverty on retirement.

Now we must turn our attention to this again. And this time we must focus not only on the social, but also the personal.

We hardly need to rehearse the arguments for keeping the rate. Three months on from the change we know more about the upheaval this virus has wreaked upon economies around the world. We saw queues outside Centrelink in the first weeks of the shutdown, and we know that another 835,000 people are now on Jobseeker.  As large as this figure is, it would be larger if we added the jobs being protected by the JobKeeper payment. Nor does it include many more people around the country who are underemployed.

Last week Anglicare WA briefed Anglicare Australia CEOs on their own efforts to keep the new rate, including sharing stories from people whose lives have been changed for the better. 

Their comments show why we must keep their stories at the centre of our efforts.

“I have not eaten two minutes noodles since receiving the payment,” said one.

“I have been able to afford basic living necessities, and upkeep all of my medications.”

“I can now afford healthy food, especially for the children,” said another.

The bargaining around the exact number is getting louder. It seems a lifetime ago that some in that our own sector were calling for a $75 raise.  The government itself picked the new rate, doubling the payment and lifting hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty. This frees us up as advocates to dream big.  The rate of the aged pension is right on the poverty line and should be our minimum ask.

We must reject the notion that anyone on a government payment should live below the poverty line.  Individuals, families and households need an income that helps them cover the basics, allowing a decent life while enabling people to prepare and look for work. 

We know that housing is a massive part of budgets. It is beyond time for payments take account of this, so that people can stay housed and above the poverty line.  In an unprecedented crisis, our rent assistance system won’t cut it.

Knowing what we want helps us have these conversations. It helps us think through complications and details like indexation and taper rates.  It also talks to the need for simplicity. There is a reason every major review has called for a single payment for working age people with supplements for disability and children.

Now the Government is listening – and in a tight parliament, they are listening hard to backbenchers and their constituents. Local members are interested in the experiences of people in their electorate, in how small business will keep running, in how rent will be paid to ’mum and dad’ investors.

We are asking anyone who can to join our push to raise the rate for good. We’ve put together an action kit for all of our members. Anglicare WA have also offered their own materials to anyone who wants to join the effort.

We would never have been able to foresee our changed work at the start of this year – but we cannot rely on luck or circumstance to make the change stick. Anyone who wants to see hundreds of thousands of Australians lifted out of poverty for good must introduce their local MP to people who rely on income support. 

Then it’s truly personal.

National Office News

National Office News

Anglicare Australia releases inaugural edition of Prospect
Anglicare Australia has released the inaugural edition of Prospect, a whistle stop tour around the Anglicare Australia Network, our members, our programs – and most importantly, the people we serve.

This is the first edition of Prospect, which showcases flagship programs and services across our network. In extraordinary times, it also highlights the achievements, innovations, and sheer excellence in our service to the community as we all recover from the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic.

Conveying our story through the eyes and voices of clients, staff, communities and volunteers, Prospect shows how effective, tailored, caring and compassionate responses to people and communities should look.

We hope you will enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed writing and producing it.

Click here to download your copy of Prospect. Hard copies are being posted to Anglicare Australia members, and you can contact [email protected] if your copies don't arrive.

Raise the rate for good: JobSeeker increase must become permanent
Anglicare Australia has stepped our efforts to secure a permanent increase to JobSeeker. We have developed an action kit for Anglicare Australia members to lobby their local MPs, including:

  • step-by-step advice on seeking, preparing for, and following up on meetings
  • template letters requesting meetings
  • a briefing for MPs on the rate of JobSeeker
  • advice on how to localise these materials with electorate-based information.

The Australian Council of Social Service has also prepared an updated message guide for the Raise the Rate campaign, which Anglicare Australia members can draw from.

Anglicare Australia has also continued to be active in the media on the rate of JobSeeker. Publicly we have said that increase has become urgent, with unemployment at a record high.

“Hundreds of thousands of Australians have lost their jobs and their livelihoods during this pandemic. Others were out of work and living in poverty long before that,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“Some 1.6 million people are now locked out of work. Many are families struggling to support their children. More than ever, we owe these Australians a safety net that will protect them.

“We’re pleased that the Government is now looking at real action – by keeping its JobSeeker increase beyond September.

“We stand ready to work with them to make this change for good.”

Click here to read Anglicare Australia’s latest media releases on JobSeeker. For a copy of our action kit, or for the campaign’s updated message guide, contact [email protected].

Housing package ignores social housing, leaves renters high and dry
Anglicare Australia has said that the government’s HomeBuilder announcement left renters and people on low incomes high and dry.

“Renters are on the frontline of this downturn. Many are losing their incomes, and some are scared of losing their homes,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“Anglicare Australia’s 2020 Rental Affordability Snapshot shows that renters on low incomes were in crisis even before the pandemic. With this downturn due to last for years and so many Australians losing their jobs, record numbers of people are at risk of poverty and homelessness.

“There was a simple solution to this problem: social housing. Building social housing would have kept a roof over people’s heads and given a badly a needed boost the economy.

“This announcement was a lost opportunity to end our social housing shortfall and help people in need. Instead we’re back to business as usual – handing out money to people who can already afford to renovate or invest,” Ms Chambers said.

In the lead-up to the announcement, Anglicare Australia had been publicly calling for a package that included social housing and provided stimulus to people most in need.

Click here to read Anglicare Australia’s media release in the wake of the announcement. Click here to read our media release ahead of the announcement.

Anglicare Australia makes submission to Select Committee on Covid-19
Anglicare Australia has made a submission to the Select Committee on Covid-19. 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.

Anglicare Network News

Anglicare Network News

Disability and the NDIS Network
The Disability and the NDIS Network is facing a number of deadlines for papers to the Royal Commission. The Network is also planning to meet via Zoom late next week to share their approaches and co-ordinate submissions. The invitation has gone to the Network and anyone else with an interest in the area is welcome to join. Papers are available on the Royal Commission website here. Email [email protected] if you would like to join the meeting.

Financial Wellbeing Network
The Financial Wellbeing Network’s half day meeting is fast approaching on Monday 6 July. The Network is preparing to hear from Financial Counselling Australia and Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers about funding flowing into the sector. The Network will also discuss how other state and territory financial counselling sectors are operating, with a view to identifying improvements within their own. Email [email protected] if you would like to join the meeting.

Research Network
The Research Network has reconnected after a hiatus to share key projects our members have underway, and to discuss potential collaboration into the future. The first action from the meeting is that Anglicare Australia will convene a specialist online event on measuring client outcomes. The guest speaker will be Professor Erin Wilson, who has designed an outcomes measurement framework for the programs run by UnitingCare in Victoria and Tasmania. The details of this workshop are in development, and if you are interested in receiving an invitation, please email [email protected]. All members of the Research and Clinical and Care Governance Networks will automatically be invited.

Aged and Community Care Network
The Aged and Community Care Network has been kept busy engaging with federal and state government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in assisting Anglicare Australia with the preparation of a submission on the impacts of Covid-19 on the aged care sector. The Network will meet soon to discuss potential responses to the latest round of papers from the Royal Commission and to collaborate with other aged care peaks bodies towards a campaign for a revitalised sector that puts the needs of older people at its heart. Email [email protected] if you would like to join the meeting.

Children and Family Services Network
Anglicare Australia is seeking member organisations’ input into the House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs’ Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence. Its findings will inform the next National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. We have made contact with members through the Children and Family Services Network and would very much welcome input from other interested Networks. More information on the Inquiry is available under 'Policy, consultations and grants' below. Anglicare Australia will be relying on content and expertise from the Network to inform our submission. Anyone interested in providing material for this submission can email [email protected] by Friday the 10 of July.

First Nations Staff Network and National Reconciliation Network
The First Nations Staff and National Reconciliation Networks have held a joint meeting, which centred on a presentation on the findings of the ‘Understanding Stress and Staying Strong’ research project. The project is a Lowitja Institute funded partnership between Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia and the Wardliparingga Aboriginal Health Research Unit at South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute. It highlights the many different factors in life that enhances Aboriginal people’s workforce experience, as well as what brings them down. The project has produced some very practical resources to help both managers and employees to foster a healthy workforce, and these were presented to the Networks. Anyone interested in the project or seeing the material can email [email protected].

Disaster Response and Recovery
The Anglicare Australia policy team has started an exciting new project in support of our colleagues who work in disaster first response and recovery. To help seed some national conversations about the role of our members in this space, we are assisting Anglicare NSW South, NSW West and ACT to evaluate their experiences in assisting with the bushfires and other disaster response over the 2019-20 summer. More information about this project will be available in coming months.

National Awards Profile

Awards profile: Bean Counters Ball, Samaritans Foundation

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

Samaritans Bean Counters BallThe Samaritans Student Accommodation supports young people between the ages of 16 and 25 who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. These young people are also committed to continuing their education. The service gives young people the opportunity to engage in education or training by giving a stable and secure living environment.

Samaritans Bean Counters BallThe Bean Counters’ Ball is a partnership coordinated by volunteers to support youth and education in the Newcastle region through fundraising. The event is a joint initiative between local members of Certified Practicing Accountants Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand with local charities. The partners engage local businesses and professionals to contribute to improving outcomes through Samaritans Student Accommodation and the Hunter TAFE Foundation.

In recent years, the partnership has extended beyond the night of the ball. This has included the growth of other partnership programs provided by members of the committee and sponsors pro bono.

The strong partnership has inspired other corporate partners, such as a local recruitment firm, to establish its own component of the mentoring program.

Research and Resources

New research and resources: Mature-age workers, charities in crisis, and more

Hidden in plain sightHidden in plain sight: The impact of the COVID-19 response on mature-age, low-income people in Australia
Brotherhood of St Laurence
This report analyses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic public health response on low-income earners aged 50 to 65. Not yet eligible for the pension or aged care, many of these people are caught between employment and retirement: too old to work and too young to retire.

The report is available here.

Australian charities and Covid-19Will Australian charities be COVID-19 casualties or partners in recovery? A financial health check
Centre for Social Impact
This report models the potential impact on the financial health of Australia’s 16,000 registered charities with employees (excluding those run purely by volunteers) to better understand the effects and identify systemic solutions.

The report is available here.

JobSeeker SurveySurvey of 955 people receiving the new rate of JobSeeker and other allowances
Australian Council of Social Service
This national survey of 955 people currently receiving JobSeeker, Youth Allowance or other social security payments with the Coronavirus Supplement shows the difference it has made to their lives. The overwhelming majority of people who completed the survey had been receiving one of these social security payments before the Coronavirus Supplement was brought in. 

The results are available here.

Indigenous women impacted by violenceExperiences of Indigenous women impacted by violence during COVID-19
Women's Safety NSW
This report from Women’s Safety NSW highlights the key issues and complexities facing Indigenous women and children impacted upon domestic and family violence during the COVID-19 health crisis.

The report is available here.

Policy, consultations and grants

Policy, consultations and grants

Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability Emergency Planning and Response Issues Paper
Australia is currently in the midst of an unprecedented emergency with the COVID-19 pandemic, following the summer bushfire crisis. People with disability can be severely affected by emergencies and may be at a higher risk of experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation at these times. The purpose of this Issues Paper is to invite information from the public on emergency planning and response. The issues paper asks 11 questions to help people and organisations to provide responses.

Submissions are open, and are due to close on 17 July 2020. More information is available here. Anglicare Australia is making a submission, and feedback from members can be sent to [email protected].

Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence
On 4 June 2020, the House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs adopted an inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence. The inquiry was referred by the Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston. The findings will inform the next National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

Submissions are open, and are due to close on 24 July 2020. More information is available here. Anglicare Australia is making a submission, and feedback from members can be sent to [email protected].

Australia Post Community Grants 2020: Improving mental health and wellbeing
Australia Post is awarding grants of up to $10,000 to local organisations that are running projects aiming to improve the mental health and wellbeing of individuals in their community. Grants will be used to fund projects which:

  • increase the opportunity for individuals to experience meaningful connections that enhance mental wellbeing
  • support mental health awareness and early intervention to help people understand more about how to stay mentally well
  • help people access mental health support at a local level.

If you have a relevant project that needs funding, grant applications close on 17 July 2020. Click here for more information.

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, June-July 2020

Government engagement fundamentals in a brave new world
The voice of purpose-led organisations are needed in government decision making has never been more important. To assist purpose-led leaders, managers and staff, Spark has developed a practical webinar which demystifies government engagement and provides a clear framework and principles to utilise, for those who play to win. This session will explore fundamentals of how to win government funding, how to shift the dial on policy change, and how to achieve lasting impact in the for-purpose sector. This webinar will be held on Monday 6 July, hosted by Pro Bono Australia. More information is available here.

Online Governance Essentials Training for non-profit Boards, Managers and Committee Members
Good governance is essential for non profit organisations. A good understanding of governance can help your Board members prioritise and focus on what really matters most. This online governance training session is ideal for new or existing Board members. It will help guide them through the most important aspects of governance required for non-profits and prioritise their work plan to achieve the best practice governance framework for their organisation. The online training session will be held on Tuesday 21 July, hosted by Non Profit Training. More information is 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.

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