28 March 2011
Today, NCOSS has written to Premier Barry O’Farrell
congratulating him on the Coalition’s election to Government. NCOSS noted the
Coalition’s commitment to many of the recommendations outlined in our Election
Platform, Vote 1 Fairness in NSW, and indicated our desire to work with
the O’Farrell Government to tackle entrenched disadvantage and social
NCOSS reminded the Premier that NCOSS has been advocating for a fair
deal for low income, vulnerable and disadvantaged people and communities for
over 75 years and called for the Government to consider a revitalised compact
with NCOSS and the community sector which would ensure that NSW’s prosperity is
fairly shared by all of its people.
Information: Alison Peters, NCOSS Director, phone 9211 2599, ext 107
22 March 2011
When Vote 1 Fairness in NSW was launched twelve months ago, NCOSS said that it was a call for all current and aspiring politicians to agree to support measures that will contribute in a real and meaningful way to a fairer, more just and sustainable society. It was also a call for the sector to advocate for a better deal for the people we are working with and on behalf of and it was a call for us to make sure that when we vote in the State Election we are voting for fairness not just for ourselves but for us all.
A special PDF edition of our member newsletter, NCOSS News, has been published to provide an analysis of what the major parties have said in response to the recommendations in our election platform.
Please download a copy for your use and either circulate to your colleagues or email them the link.
Download: NCOSS News – Special Election e-Issue
As part of Vote 1 Fairness in NSW, NCOSS was seeking:
A sensible and whole of Government funding policy
- An industry plan for the sector
- A revitalised Compact between Government and the sector
As part of its Community Services Policy, Labor has committed to:
Review and revitalise the Government/community sector compact, Working Together for NSW in conjunction with NCOSS
- Further reduce red tape by cutting unnecessary rules and regulations that impact on the non-government sector's ability to deliver services to the community – initiatives include developing a standard funding agreement to minimise transaction costs
- Seek the Federal Government's cooperation in a project to streamline national regulation in recognition of the red tape burden for agencies that operate across state and territory boundaries
- Work with NCOSS and FONGA on a Workforce Reform Agenda to support a strong and sustainable sector including: worker qualifications, consistency in classifications across organisations and attraction and retention of staff.
While NCOSS is pleased to see these commitments, they do not go as far as the recommendations for a whole of government funding policy or a comprehensive industry plan by the sector for the sector as recommended in Vote 1 Fairness in NSW. The commitments are a useful first step to a better relationship between Government and the sector.
Labor's Community Services Policy can be accessed here http://www.scribd.com/doc/50899519/Communities-Policy
NCOSS has received responses from the Liberals & Nationals and Labor with their respective positions regarding the recommendations contained in the NCOSS Election Platform, Vote 1 Fairness in NSW.
These responses can be viewed here:
On 17 March, Labor released its Community Services Policy for the election. The Policy commits Labor to:
Introduce a Family Literacy program for families from culturally diverse backgrounds – helping children in those families to improve their reading skills and develop to their full potential;
- Continue the roll-out of the $750 million five-year Keep Them Safe plan;
- Implement the integrated One Place One Plan program for areas of entrenched disadvantage;
Expand and strengthen early childhood services, including by providing 95 per cent of NSW children with early childhood programs for at least 15 hours a week, 40 weeks a year by 2013;
Employ 25 additional staff for the Helpline After Hours Crisis Response Team, which delivers critical child protection responses, and two supervisors for the Domestic Violence helpline;
Continue to work closely with non-government partners; and
- Stabilise then reduce the number of children entering care and gradually transfer most OOHC services to the non-government sector.
NCOSS welcomes this recommitment to the Keep Them Safe Action Plan including the budget and the commitment to the transfer of OOHC to the non-government sector.
14 March 2011
The state's peak welfare body has welcomed today's release of a major policy paper on issues facing people living in boarding houses and other forms of marginal rental accommodation.
by Alison Peters
Recently I was listening to a program on the radio where people were
talking about the Commonwealth Government’s proposal for the flood levy.
One of the commentators made the point that many people were talking
about the tax system as though it was the same thing as a bank – if you
put $100 in you are able to get $100 back sometime in the future. This
commentator went on to say that many people have lost the understanding
that the tax we pay is for our collective benefit and this means that
the money is not always spent in ways that directly benefit us as
11 March 2011
On 1 March, The Greens announced their 'Affordable and Sustainable NSW' plan. The plan aims to reduce household energy and water bills by up to $1,000 per year through a combination of reducing capital expenditure on energy networks, closing the desalination plant and energy efficiency measures for households and businesses. NCOSS supports the ambitious goal of reducing household energy and water bills. However, NCOSS would like to see a commitment to energy rebates for low income households and targeted energy (and water) efficiency measures for low income households.
4 March 2011
On 3 March 2011, the Opposition Spokesperson for Community Services, Ms Pru Goward MP, committed a Liberals & Nationals Coalition Government to strengthening the out-of-home care system in NSW.
Ms Goward committed a Liberals and Nationals Government to:
- Stopping the growth in the number of children placed in out-of-home care (OOHC) by 2015 and reduce the rate of removal from over 9 children per thousand children to no more than the current national average by 2019;
- continuing the handover process of out-of-home care to non-government organisations, in line with the Wood Inquiry recommendations; and
- put greater emphasis on increased early intervention mechanisms such as intensive family support and family preservation services to help prevent children most at risk from out-of-home care.
NCOSS welcomes these commitments, particularly the ambitious target regarding the growth of out-of-home care placements. However, NCOSS is uncertain as to the effectiveness of parent contracts to achieve these targets.
NCOSS expects, and looks forward to seeing, detailed plans and funding required to implement these commitments.
NCOSS would also like to see a commitment to early intervention services that focus on families requiring lower levels of support and are of a less intensive nature than intensive family support and family preservation services.
1 March 2011
Although transport is a key aspect of ensuring social equality, by
enabling linkages between people and services, Governments rarely
consider transport as a core social policy concern. This makes it
essential that in the lead up to the State Election the major parties in
NSW commit to a transport system that is both effective and equitable
says NCOSS who are launching their Transport Election Kit today.
21 February 2011
The Coalition has released a Plan for an Affordable and Sustainable Energy Industry. The plan includes an increase in the Energy Rebate for low income households (in possession of a health care card each year for the next four years and an expansion of eligibility to families in receipt of Family Tax Benefit Part A or B. The increases are as follows:
|| July 2011
|| July 2012
|| July 2013
|| July 2014
|Low income household rebate
|Family Energy Rebate
Low income families will be eligible for both rebates up to $250 per annum from July 2012.
NCOSS welcomes the proposal to increase the Energy Rebate for households in possession of a health care card. However, NCOSS believes that widening the eligibility for the rebate to families in receipt of Family Tax Benefits (earning up to $150,000 pa) is not the optimum use of these funds. NCOSS would prefer greater assistance be provided to struggling households to reduce their energy consumption. The Coalition scheme may be better targeted than the Government’s Fairness for Families announcement but it suffers from the same problem of not matching expected energy price increases over time.
21 February 2011
In our state election platform NCOSS called for the NSW Government to provide sufficient state subsidies and in kind assistance, such as land, to ensure that NSW receives its fair share of subsidies under the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS).
NCOSS was dismayed therefore when the Commonwealth Government announced on 27 January that it was cutting future subsidies under NRAS as part of its funding response to rebuilding in the flood (and now cyclone) affected areas. The NCOSS media release issued at the time is here.
Following a strong campaign from the sector, and the support of the Greens in negotiations with the Government on the flood levy, the Government has now agreed to reverse its cuts to NRAS. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has stated that “over a longer timeframe, the scheme will continue to operate to deliver at least the 50,000 homes provisioned for under the original program”.
The Government’s announcement has been widely welcomed.
Now that this uncertainty has been resolved, NCOSS, Shelter NSW and the Federation of Housing Associations continue our campaign to ensure that NSW receives a fair share of future subsides under NRAS, see here.
Warren Gardiner, NCOSS Senior Policy Officer
ph: 9211 2599, ext 112
As everyone knows, there will be an election in NSW on 26 March,
2011. All of the polling suggests that there will be a change of
government with the only debate being how big the majority will be.
Regardless, with so many current MPs announcing their retirement there
will be many new politicians across all parties next March.
NCOSS has spent much of the past 12 months advocating for what we
see as priorities for all politicians to contribute in a real and
meaningful way to a fairer, more just and sustainable society. These
priorities are outlined in our election platform, Vote 1 Fairness in NSW
where we call for a range of measures that will make a real difference
for the most vulnerable, marginalised and disadvantaged people in our
As we have noted before, many of these measures are not new. They are
matters we continue to raise because of a lack of action and therefore
progress over many years. While we will advocate strongly for these
measures to be adopted by all political parties in the lead up to the
election, as a sector we will also need to continue to work together to
see these measures implemented by whoever forms Government in March.
So, in light of that, what does NCOSS believe the sector’s priorities should be for an incoming Government?
14 February 2011
Dental funding package
On the 9 February NSW Labor announced a dental funding package of $12.5m over four years targeted to low income earners.
The package includes:
- $4 million for the Oral Health Fee for Service Scheme. This will fund 10,000 vouchers for concession card holders to receive services from private dentists.
- $5 million for free dentures. To provide an additional 5000 full and partial dentures for pensioners.
- $1 million for children’s dental services. This will fund 500 additional general anaesthetic dental services for children.
- $2.5 million for dental equipment. Investment in specialist dental equipment including dental chairs – enabling 4,400 extra public services to be delivered.
NSW Labor also stated that they would continue full implementation of the the water fluoridation program.
8 February 2011
On the 6 February NSW Labor announced that they would cap increases in public transport fares to the rate of inflation (Consumer Price Index) to ‘ease the cost of living pressures on NSW families. This would be in place of the current fare determination process carried out by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). This announcement is considered to be a further step in Labor’s aim to reduce public transport fares, which commenced with MyZone and continued with a fare freeze in December 2010. The cap applies to:
- Cityrail and CountryLink services
- Metropolitan and Outer Metropolitan bus services (including the STA)
- Sydney Ferries
- Private Ferries
It is estimated that savings for individuals will range from $13.60 for a MyBus Adult TravelTen to $72.80 for a MyTrain 5 – Adult Weekly.
8 February 2011
In October 2010, Mr Barry O’Farrell, Leader of the Opposition, starting promoting the NSW Liberals & Nationals Clubs and Community Rescue Package. Mr O’Farrell has stated that, if elected to Government, the Liberal & National Coalition will reduce the tax on registered clubs by $300 million over four years. This is forecast to create 2000 jobs. In return, clubs will be required to contribute $272 million over four years to social programs. NCOSS expects that some of this money will be used to increase expenditure on the Community Development and Support Expenditure (CDSE) Scheme.
Mr O’Farrell announced on 6 February 2011 that a Liberal and National Coalition Government would establish a new category of grant to enable clubs to support junior and elite sports more easily. The announcement referred specifically to the National Rugby League but further details are not yet available on the Coalition’s election website.
NCOSS will be seeking more details of the proposed tax arrangements and any proposed changes to the Community Development and Support Expenditure Scheme before commenting.
8 February 2011
In our election platform, NCOSS has called for sufficient state subsidies and in kind assistance such as land to ensure that NSW receives its fair share of subsidies under the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS). NCOSS was dismayed therefore when the Commonwealth Government announced that it was cutting future subsidies under NRAS as part of its response to funding rebuilding in flood (and now cyclone) affected areas.
The NCOSS media release is here.
NCOSS is supporting the Shelter campaign to have this decision reversed. Details about Shelter’s campaign are available from www.shelternsw.org.au.
2 February 2011
Vote 1 Fairness called for the extension of the Energy Rebate to all health care card holders and the indexation of the rebate to energy prices. In March 2010, the NSW Government announced both these initiatives commencing from 1 July 2010. The Energy Rebate was increased to $145 pa in 2010-11 and $161 in 2011-12. NCOSS welcomed these announcements at the time.
On 6 February 2011 the Premier announced a further increase in the Energy Rebate to $250 pa for health care card holders commencing from 1 July 2011 and a further widening of the eligibility to households earning less than $150,000 pa commencing 1 July 2012. Premier Keneally has stated she will introduce the Fairness for Families Bill in the first sitting of Parliament if re-elected to Government. The Bill will include these initiatives.
NCOSS welcomes the proposal to increase the Energy Rebate to $250 for households in possession of a health care card. However, NCOSS believes that widening the eligibility for the rebate to households earning less than $150,000 pa is not the optimum use of these funds. A better use of this money would be to reduce household energy bills through improving energy efficiency measures for low to medium income households. For example, the Home Power Savers Program could improve household refits to include more items for low income households.
29 March 2010
To mark 12 months before the NSW State Election, NCOSS, the peak body for non government social and community services, today launched its 2011 Election Platform, Vote 1 Fairness in NSW.
NCOSS Director, Alison Peters said, “In NSW there are still far too many people who do not enjoy the opportunities that most of us take for granted. An affordable and secure home, quality education, good health, access to services that help people cope with life’s’ ups and downs and a life free from discrimination and violence are not the norm for everyone.
The NCOSS Election Platform, Vote 1 Fairness in NSW, calls for a range of measures that will make a difference for those people and communities that are doing it tough. These are real, practical ideas that deliver improved outcomes and build a fairer society based on 12 broad themes:
- Aboriginal self determination
- Improved child wellbeing
- A fair go for people with a disability
- Active and connected older people
- Strong communities
- Improving the justice system
- More affordable housing and less homelessness
- Better health and wellbeing
- Fairer concessions
- An effective transport system
- Better planning and infrastructure
- Strengthening the community sector.
NCOSS will be asking for the support of the general public, the media and politicians to engage in debate about what needs to happen to ensure that social justice is not forgotten as we get closer to the State Election in March 2011.
“For too long, the focus has been on political cycles rather than breaking cycles – of poverty, exclusion and despair,” Ms Peters said.
“Vote 1 Fairness in NSW is a call for all current and aspiring politicians to agree to support measures that will contribute in a real and meaningful way to a fairer, more just and sustainable society”.
- Vote 1 Fairness in NSW is available on the NCOSS website: download
Alison Peters (NCOSS) Mob: 0425 231 814 Tel: (02) 9211 2599