Aspect November 2018

Aspect Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Editorial: Changing the conversation about poverty

Kasy ED 4_pref

Anglicare Australia’s first strategic goal is to influence social and economic policy across Australia with a strong prophetic voice; and called to speak with, and for, those most vulnerable and disadvantaged.

Usually we take the meaning of our prophetic voice to be about the stories we tell, the truth we share and the society we hope for. But in this year’s State of the Family report, released last week, we have looked deeper into the voice itself. The real story: What Australians think about poverty and how we shape the debate looks at how we use language and our own role in the public debate.

This was a different direction for the State of the Family report – instead of speaking to government, we are seeking to lead the sector in a change of narrative.

We took this approach because we felt a lingering sense that things weren’t changing. After years of advocacy, there was still a growing distance between community views and the narrative told by government and media. The people we see in our services, and how they are portrayed in the government’s narrative, are streets apart. We see people struggling to make ends meet on low wages or government benefits. They are striving for better for themselves and their families. They are strident in their desire for a better society for all.

Reading some of the media reports or government proposals we could be forgiven for seeing people who want only the easiest way out – benefits at a rate that allow for luxuries and a whole group of people intent on and content to defraud the hard working public. This narrative tells of a tale of two polarised communities. Two separate groups of people: Taxpayers and those in recept of benefits. This is a totally false polarity. We have pointed out many times that most people will be both in their lives. Many are both simultaneously – paying taxes into a shared trust while reaping the direct and indirect benefits through roads, defence, Medicare, the aged pension, and education.

At first it may seem a large leap to make to go from this shared trust to talking about democracy. Writing about the failure of democracy is popular at the moment. Political thought bubbles, poor behaviour in individual politicians and leaders, loss of trust in institutions here and overseas has many commentators and writers examining the issue.

However as we worked on this it seemed it wasn’t a bridge too far. Democracy after all is about people. People create a government system to meet their needs, to simultaneously lead and serve them. We have got it wrong if we think that democracy is about the institutions, and that loss of faith in those institutions should drive us to walk away from democracy itself. Democracy is about the individuals, the collective, it is about civil society and the standards we collectively wish and strive for.

At Anglicare Australia we are optimistic about our democracy. And we are optimistic about human nature. We believe that the community understands what a good society looks like and feels despair, as we do, that we seem to be drifting away from it rather than toward it. Politicians and commentators on the other hand seem to think that there are points to be scored, votes to be won, and circulation to be gained by sprouting a narrative that blames the individual and denies the existence of society.

In looking at our voice, how it tells the stories, and how it influences behaviour we commissioned some research on society’s attitudes to poverty and inequality. We have bravely examined the Anglicare Australia Network’s own writings to critique how our own voice shapes community opinion and behaviour. The real story examines the results from that research and finds that indeed most Australians are empathetic to the situation of others. They understand that poverty can happen to anyone and that helping each other is a fundamental part of society. We found in our research that our optimism about what people think and their level of empathy for those living in poverty was well founded. People knew that those in poverty were just like them.

To tap into this empathy we need to grasp back the power of the narrative. We need to stop only responding to arguments made and shape the debate in the way the community wants us to. Civil society organisations like Anglicare Australia can steer this. Governments can choose whether to follow.

We as advocates must speak directly to the community by choosing our own language that honours the people in the stories we are telling, engages the community, and points to a hopeful society where any level of inequality is rejected.

National Office News

National Office News: State of the Family, Raise the Rate, parliamentary inquiries and more

Anglicare Australia launches 2018 State of the Family Report: The real story
SOTF 2018Anglicare Australia has launched the 2018 State of the Family report, The real story: What Australians think about poverty and how we shape the debate. The report explores attitudes towards people experiencing poverty. It also reflects on what these attitudes mean for how we as advocates communicate and persuade.

The overarching finding from this study has been that attitudes are not fixed. They are shaped and reshaped through persuasion and debate. It also shows that Australians are more sympathetic to those in poverty then even they realise.

As part of the launch, Anglicare Australia released a survey showing that Australians want an end to poverty and more support for people on government payments. It was conducted by Ipsos as part of the report.

Kasy on Sky-SOTF“We are led to believe that Australians are apathetic about poverty. Our research shows that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“86% of the people we surveyed believe that nobody deserves to live in poverty, and 79% agree that anybody can end up in poverty through no fault of their own.

“We also found that many people have had their own recent experiences of poverty. 16% of Australians couldn’t afford a basic necessity like food or shelter in the last year,” she said.

The report and survey results were covered by ABC AM, SBS News, and Sky News.

The full report is available here. Click here to read the media release.

Raise the Rate campaign continues to gain momentum
Pressure is mounting to raise the Newstart rate following unanimous lower house crossbench support for a $75 increase.

Anglicare Australia has continued to support calls to raise the rate of Newstart, with Executive Director Kasy Chambers telling news outlets that Newstart recipients would put the extra funds towards basic expenses such as food, power bills, medicine, and school excursions. She said that a $75 increase is a good start, but that increases must be indexed and that the rate of payments should be set by an independent commission.

“We’ve got good research on food security showing that people on Newstart regularly miss a main meal up to two days a week, and also choose to keep a child home from school on the last day of the pay cycle if they can’t afford food for their lunchbox,” she said.

Ms Chambers said the “narrative in media and politics that demonises poverty and criminalises welfare benefits”.

“Simple maths shows that there aren’t the jobs to go around, the demonisation of people without work is a nonsense, and very unhelpful,” she said.

Click here to read the coverage of Anglicare Australia's comments.

Changing the conversation on intergenerational poverty
Roland at hearingAnglicare Australia has called for urgent action on intergenerational poverty. The call was made at a hearing on the Parliamentary Inquiry into Intergenerational Welfare.

“The fact that Parliament is holding an inquiry into intergenerational welfare at all speaks volumes about why we’re failing to tackle poverty,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“Welfare itself is not the problem. People who are in poverty are entitled to help and they rightly take it up. That is the symptom, not the cause.

“If we truly wanted to help people, we would be holding an inquiry into intergenerational poverty and trauma – that’s what our evidence will focus on today.

Anglicare Australia has also called on the committee to consider the recommendations from our previous research, including our research papers on living on low incomes, Going without, and the inequitable rise in the cost of living under current government policy, Living Standard Trends in Australia.

A transcript of Anglicare Australia’s evidence is available here. Click here to read the media release.

Anglicare Australia responds to inquiry into Australians at risk of experiencing financial hardship
Anglicare Australia has made a submission to the Senate inquiry into credit and financial services to Australians at risk of experiencing financial hardship.

Our submission called for reforms to:
- Limit the total ‘small amount credit contract’ repayments to 10 percent of a person's net income
- Cap the cost of consumer leases
- Introduce a ‘protected earnings amount’ requirement for consumer lease providers
- Ensure that No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS), StepUP, Centrelink advances and other microfinance programs are preferred options for people on low income
- Offer more face-to-face education to help people understand financial products.

These proposals were based input from Network members including Anglicare Western Australia, The Samaritans Foundation, Anglicare Sydney and Anglicare Tasmania. The Inquiry is due to report in February 2019.

Click here to read Anglicare Australia's submission.

Charity fundraising in the 21st Century
Anglicare Australia has given evidence to a hearing for the Senate Inquiry into Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century.

Kasy at hearingOur comments built on our submission, which focused on the role that charities have played in improving policy development in Australia. We made recommendations on how to remove obstacles to fundraise for this work.

In our evidence, we went on to call for:
- A regime that doesn't regulate charities more heavily than other sectors
- A regime that does not constrain public interest advocacy by charities and not-for-profits
- A clear distinction between issues-based advocacy and politically partisan electioneering
- A harmonised and efficient regime that is unambiguous.

A transcript of Anglicare Australia’s evidence is available here. Click here to read the submission.

Anglicare Network News

Anglicare Network News

Anglicare Victoria and Anglicare WA recognised as finalists for HESTA Awards
PMACAnglicare Victoria and Anglicare WA have both been recognised as finalists in the The HESTA Community Sector Awards. The Awards recognise outstanding service provision, advocacy and leadership in improving the lives of people who rely on access to the services of the community sector.

Both organisations were finalists for the Social Impact Award, which recognises an individual, organisation or network that has made an outstanding contribution to social justice in Australia through policy development, advocacy, leadership or representation.

Anglicare Australia congratulates both Anglicare Victoria and Anglicare WA.

Click here for more information on the awards.

Anglicare Tasmania conducts continuum of care comparison
Tasmania is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to drug and alcohol rehabilitation, according to an Anglicare Tasmania.

Community services worker Katrina Bester recently travelled to California as part of Anglicare Tasmania’s Jerrim Fellowship, a program that allows staff to pursue a project or training courses they may be interested in.

The focus of the five-week trip was a continuum of care comparison between Tasmania and California, for which she attended the annual Addiction Conference, and visited three alcohol and drug centres that had high success rates.

Ms Bester said her findings highlighted gaps in Tasmanian drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.

“In Tasmania, detox is kept separate from residential care, and there is often long waiting periods,” she said.

“Here, we are almost setting people up to fail, because we know if they complete detox, it’s going to take more than 10 to 14 days for them to be able to make behavioural changes.”

Click here to find out more about Katrina's comparison study.

Benetas wins Victorian marketing awards
BENETASBenetas has won the Victorian Marketing Communications: B2C and B2B section of the Australian Marketing Industry Awards. Their entry, ‘Benetas takes on the consumer market’, was designed ‘to cultivate, find, attract, convert and keep the Benetas customer’.

Faced with increasing competition, Nicola Reynolds, Benetas’ General Manager for Customer Innovation and Marketing says they decided to implement a new brand strategy to guide their communications.

“This has resulted in a significant lift in the awareness of Benetas and its services, a direct impact of brand awareness advertising, and reworked our customer communication channels.”

The campaign was developed to retain existing customers and gain new customers when Consumer Directed Care was introduced in February last year, placing government funding in the consumer’s hands and giving them the freedom to choose their home care provider.

Click here to find out more about the award.

Julie Cross brings a sparkle to EPIC
EPICMotivational speaker Julie Cross has visited EPIC Assist's Windsor service centre to run a session with staff.

Julie spent over an hour sharing valuable wisdom with EPIC leaders, before revealing a surprising connection with EPIC. Julie explained that her son Thomas is on the autism spectrum, and has been supported into employment at The Coffee Club Redcliffe by EPIC’s Kippa-Ring team.

“Before meeting EPIC, I struggled to believe that employment would be possible in Thomas’ future. I know that sounds bad, but honestly, it was a future I just couldn’t see,” said Julie.

She went on to describe the vital ripple effect that EPIC’s work has on so many different families.

“To think how far Thomas has come… I just know it wouldn’t have been possible without EPIC, and my family is forever grateful,” said Julie.

Click here to find out more about Julie Cross's visit and reflections from EPIC staff.

Research and Resources

New research and resources: State of the Family, APRI, Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Centre for Social Impact

SOTF 2018The real story: What Australians think about poverty and how we shape the debate
Anglicare Australia
The 2018 State of the Family report explores attitudes towards people experiencing poverty. It also reflects on what these attitudes mean for how we as advocates communicate and persuade. The overarching finding from this study has been that attitudes are not fixed. They are shaped and reshaped through persuasion and debate. It also shows that Australians are more sympathetic to those in poverty then even they realise. The report is available here.

APRIDownward economic mobility in Australia
The Australian Population Research Institute
This is a report on households and people who have experienced income decline from 2011 to 2016. It shows that there were nearly 6 million people in Australia in households whose income has declined in recent years. The report is available here.

PIACClose to the Edge – a Qualitative & Quantitative Study
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Close to the Edge is the fourth report in PIAC’s Cut Off research series which explore the impact of utility disconnection for NSW households. The research examines the factors that contribute to household disconnection from electricity and gas. The report is available here.

CSIThe Health and Social Costs of Women Sleeping Rough in Australia's Cities
Centre for Social Impact
Based on interviews with 853 women sleeping rough in Australia’s cities, this report provides the first detailed picture of the physical and mental health outcomes and broader life experiences of women sleeping rough in Australia. The report is available here.

Policy, consultations and grants

New consultations and grants

Inquiry into the effectiveness of the aged care quality assessment and accreditation framework for protecting residents from abuse and poor practices
The Community Affairs References Committee is calling for submissions on the effectiveness of the aged care quality assessment and accreditation framework. To complement the work of the recently announced Royal Commission, the committee has agreed its continuing inquiry will focus on the regulation of clinical, medical and allied health care in the aged care context.

Submissions close on Friday 30 November 2018. More information is available here. Anglicare Australia is considering making a submission. To provide input, contact [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 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.

Review of the Social Security Commission Bill 2018
The Selection Committee has called for submissions on the Social Security Commission Bill 2018. This private members bill would establish a Social Security Commission independent of government to research rates of income support.

Submissions close on Friday 1 March 2019. More information is available here. To provide input into Anglicare Australia’s submission, contact [email protected].

Productivity Commission inquiry into mental health
This inquiry will examine the effect of mental health on people’s ability to participate in and prosper in the community and workplace, and the effects it has more generally on our economy and productivity.

Submissions close on Friday 5 April 2019. More information is available here. Anglicare Australia is considering making a submission. To provide input, contact [email protected].

Sector Events

Sector Events, November 2018

"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 until the end of 2018. To find out more, contact [email protected] or call Rita Battaglin 0403 220 777.

2019 Anglicare Australia National Conference
The 2019 Anglicare Australia National Conference will be held in Perth from 8-11 September, 2019. 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. 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.

8th International Conference on Ageing and Spirituality
Preparations have begun for the 8th International Conference on Ageing and Spirituality. The conference is sponsored by Charles Sturt University and the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. The theme of the next conference is 'Changing cultures of Ageing and Spirituality.' It will feature international and local speakers to address this theme with pre-conference workshops. The conference will be held in Canberra 27-30 October 2019. More information is available here.

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