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The NCOSS Blog is the place to keep up-to-date with the work being done by NCOSS and the latest events and information of importance to the NSW Community Services sector.

Combining of FACS Homelessness Functions PDF Print
Date added: 23 March 2012

NCOSS has been advised by the Department of Family & Community Services (FACS) about some changes that will combine the FACS Homelessness functions. FACS have indicated that Homelessness is a key priority for the Department and these changes will lead to the most effective use of resources to meet the commitments in NSW 2021 to prevent and reduce homelessness.  FACS has prepared a fact sheet about the changes.

DownloadFact Sheet:  Combining of FACS Homelessness Functions, March 2012


Put your money where your mouth is on dental health reform PDF Print
Date added: 16 March 2012

While many people say they fear going to the dentist it is more often the cost rather than the drill that causes the most pain. More than one-third of Australians say they put off going to the dentist because they cannot afford it.

Australia ranks among the bottom third of OECD countries for adult dental decay and people on low incomes and those living in poverty and social disadvantage experience a disproportionate burden of disease. Research shows they experience higher rates of tooth loss and decay and the most difficulty accessing and affording dental services.

The expert report of the National Advisory Council on Dental Health, released last week, seeks to address the current inequities in dental health by proposing a new national oral health system to provide equitable, affordable access to dental care for all Australians.

The report prioritises children and lower income adults as the first step to creating a more universal system. It outlines four options that would build on existing frameworks for an individual capped benefit scheme or expand state public dental services. Funding would cover basic dental services including diagnostic, preventive and routine care, with the provision for more expensive services in exceptional circumstances.

The National Health and Hospital Reform Commission identified the need for dental reform as a priority nearly three years ago. It recommended universal access through a "Denticare" scheme, which was rejected by the Government due to the $3billion price tag.

Last week's Report recommends a minimum $56 million on child dental services and $0.3 billion on adult services in 2012. Importantly, the Report recommended foundational measures to develop a national scheme over time, recognising that even a blank cheque won't address current deficiencies such as numbers in the dental workforce and their disparate distribution across the country.

Opponents of a universal access scheme argue that our oral health workforce and infrastructure are inadequate to service the tsunami of people who would scramble to get into the dentist chair. Critics also argue that the cost of the scheme would be too great in the current economic climate.

While a comprehensive dental system may be seen as financially costly, the cost of doing nothing is just as high and continues to mount. Poor access to dental care has significant costs to society. In 2009-10 the direct cost of dental services was $7.7bn, and indirect costs to the economy have been estimated of up to $2bn.

Much of these costs could be avoided through timely, preventive dental care, not to mention the costs to social and economic participation as stigma and self-doubt from poor teeth undermine individual efforts to obtain and maintain employment and meaningful social relationships.

In recognition of the current funding climate the Dental Council has proposed options that can be scaled up or phased in over time. They provide stepping-stones on the path to a universal access system. The most conservative model targeting those people already on public waiting lists would cost $343m in 2012-13. This is around two-thirds less than current Commonwealth expenditure on dental programs.

While targeted measures for those children and adults most in need are essential, they must not be the end point. The Medicare principles underpinning our health system mean that all Australian's are entitled to the same good quality care based on individual need rather than ability to pay.

This year's Federal Budget is the opportunity to commence a comprehensive plan to bring dentistry into Australia's universal health system. It is simply not fair that so many Australians are missing out on essential dental care, most noticeably for those on low incomes.

The Council report provides options that are fiscally responsible and pragmatic. They would improve dental care for those children and adults in greatest need, while laying the foundations for a more universal access system for all Australians.

Building on the Government's commitment to significant dental reform in this year's budget, the new Health Minister Tanya Plibersek has made welcome comments that revamping the dental system would be one of her priorities in the health portfolio. This Federal Budget lets see the Government put its money where its mouth is.

Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS  - published in On Line Opinion on 12 March 2012


Moving to the SCHCADS Modern Award PDF Print
SACS Award
Date added: 13 March 2012

On 1 July 2012, the new SCHCADS (SACS Modern Award) will come into full operation. This means that the new 8 level classification structure that replaces the current 6 level structure of the NSW SACS Award will have to be fully implemented from that date. As a result all Social, Community and Disability workers in NSW will need to be reclassified under the SCHCADS (SACS Modern Award).

NCOSS, the Australian Services Union (ASU) and National Disability Service (NDS) will be working together to ensure that this occurs in a smooth and orderly way and that there is a consistent industry approach to the issues that will arise as we move to reclassify 25,000 employees. We will be working together to develop a guide on where indicative roles are most likely classified under the SCHCADS Award that will assist organisations and employees in this process. NCOSS has prepared a Briefing Paper on a process for reclassification. 

Download:  NCOSS Briefing Paper: Moving the SCHCADS Modern Award

Industry Information Sessions: Get the Facts:  Equal Pay and SACS

NCOSS has published details of the Equal Pay Industry Information sessions in the March edition of NCOSS News. The details provided to us were correct at the time NCOSS News went to print. Unfortunately some of the details have subsequently changed. The correct dates, times and registration info for all sessions appear below. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. NCOSS encourages all organisations to be represented at these briefings as they will assist you to understand and meet your obligations regarding reclassification to the modern Award and the Equal Pay decision.

Register on-line on the NDS website https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/R7868K9

More information:  Jay Richardson, IR & Workforce Development Project Manager, NDS New South Wales, Ph 02 9256 3107, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sydney Town Hall, George St
15 March 10am-1pm  
Gosford 16 March 10am-1pm  
Liverpool 19 March 10am-1pm  
Lismore 20 March 1pm-4pm
Coffs Harbour 21 March 10am-1pm  
Queanbeyan 22 March 10am-1pm  
Wollongong 26 March 10am-1pm  
Albury 27 March 1pm-4pm  
Penrith 28 March 10am-1pm  
Tamworth 29 March 10am-1pm  
Orange 5 April 1pm-4pm  
Chatswood 10 April 10am-1pm  
Maitland 12 April 10am-1pm  
Indigenous Governance Awards 2012 PDF Print
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues
Date added: 09 March 2012

Do you know an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisation or project that is really kicking goals?

Reconciliation Australia and BHP Billiton are proud to launch the 2012 Indigenous Governance Awards, now open for applications and nominations. The Awards are looking for outstanding examples of Indigenous governance in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisations, projects or initiatives.

The Awards recognise and promote effective, innovative, courageous and creative leadership and decision-making that show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people determining and driving real change.

  • $60,000 in prize money
  • NEW category recognising effective Indigenous governance in non-incorporated projects or initiatives

Apply now! To find out more, apply or nominate for the 2012 Indigenous Governance Awards go to www.reconciliation.org.au/iga or contact the Indigenous Governance Awards team on 02 6273 9200 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Applications and nominations close 31 May 2012.


Money management resources for humanitarian entrants PDF Print
Debt and Credit
Date added: 06 March 2012

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission's (ASIC's) Credit Outreach Team has now completed and published educational resources about money management to assist humanitarian entrants to Australia.

The resources cover ten topics:

  • household budgets
  • banking
  • paying bills
  • saving money
  • contracts
  • credit
  • types of credit
  • debt
  • working in Australia
  • insurance

Each topic caters for different learning and literacy levels. Translated photo stories, fact sheets and audio stories are available in 16 languages: Arabic, Assyrian, Burmese, Chin Hakka, Dari, Dinka, English, Farsi, Hazaragi, Karen, Kirundi, Nepalese, Nuer, Sudanese Arabic, Swahili and Tamil.

The resources are specifically designed to be used by ethnic community groups and organisations, and for providers assisting the newly arrived in Australia. The resources were developed in consultation with various ethnic community groups, to ensure the resources were relevant, meaningful and culturally appropriate. The resources are free and ASIC encourages use and promotion of the materials to others who would benefit from them.

You can access the resources from ASIC's MoneySmart website www.moneysmart.gov.au

If you want to connect with the Credit Outreach Team about this initiative, please contact Peter Lechlein on 02 9911 2088 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

End the decay: Act now on dental care PDF Print
Date added: 02 March 2012

The Brotherhood of St Laurence is running a campaign to highlight the crisis in Australia's dental system and is calling for support to make sure the Federal Government fully takes this issue on board.

Beyond the May budget the Brotherhood of St Laurence is calling for the inclusion of dental health in Medicare as a longer term goal, but one that must be reached as soon as possible. The Brotherhood’s End the Decay report by expert health economists found that while a targeted program for disadvantaged people is a great start, a universal scheme is the best and most cost-effective way to meet the urgent and widespread need for dental care, and avoids the risk of a two-tier system of care developing for the haves and have-nots.

You can show your support by sending an email to the Federal Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, via the Brotherhood of St Laurance website.

$35 a day is not enough! PDF Print
Commonwealth Issues
Date added: 16 February 2012

Lift paltry allowances and help people into paid work

Could you live on $35 a day? That’s how much people unfortunate enough to find themselves out of work have to depend on - to put a roof over their heads, feed and clothe themselves, and get around as they try and find paid work – just $243 per week.

Join the ACOSS campaign to raise unemployment allowances such as Newstart and demand better targeted jobs assistance.

Far from the stereotype of a 'lazy dole bludger', most of the 600,000 people on Newstart Allowance are actually among the most disadvantaged people in Australia.

  • 1 in 3 are over 45 years of age
  • 1 in 6 have been assessed as only able to work part time due to a disability, including mental illness
  • 1 in 10 are from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds
  • 1 in 15 is a sole parent, needing affordable child care services and a job with family friendly hours
  • 2 out of every 5 recipients has less than Year 12 qualifications 60% have received unemployment payments for over a year, and 25% for over 3 years

It’s time to raise Allowance payments by $50 per week as recommended by the Henry Report and the OECD, and improve the level of targeted jobs assistance to help break down these barriers. Increasing allowance payments will help lift a great many people out of poverty and place them in a better position to participate in paid work. ACOSS has prepared a statement (bellow) calling for an increase in unemployment benefits and improvements to jobs assistance. We’re calling on groups and individuals to add their names in support.

More information - click here

Meeting with Transport Minister on February 8 PDF Print
Date added: 08 February 2012

NCOSS met with the Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian, to discuss the transport priorities raised in the NCOSS Pre-Budget Submission . Priorities in the transport portfolio include increasing the cap for the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme, and accelerating funding for Easy Access Station upgrades. The NSW Government is currently well behind its target of making 55% of stations accessible by 2012, with only 41% (127) of stations accessible as at July 2011. Although the Government’s allocation of an additional $60m over four years for the Easy Access Program is warmly welcomed, we are concerned that this commitment is not enough to meet the agreed timelines.

Aboriginal transport is also an NCOSS priority, with funding required to not only address transport disadvantage in Aboriginal communities, but also to support the capacity of Aboriginal people to engage in transport planning and decision-making processes.

While not one of Minister Berejiklian’s direct responsibilities, transport for health was also discussed as it is an ongoing issue for many of our stakeholders and has a direct impact on community transport services. NCOSS looks forward to participating in the review of the Transport for Health program set to follow the implementation of the NSW Government’s election commitments to improve the IPTAAS scheme.

Two revenue-raising measures for transport were also discussed, and received with interest by the Minister. The introduction of a $2 levy on vehicle registration would create an ongoing revenue stream to support community transport programs, while an effective road-pricing scheme has the potential to achieve positive environmental and social equity outcomes. This idea will be further explored by a Legislative Assembly inquiry into road access pricing .

Premier addresses 74th NCOSS AGM PDF Print
Date added: 01 December 2011

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, NCOSS President Eileen Baldry and NCOSS Director Alison Peters at the NCOSS AGM.The NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell, addressed the 74th NCOSS AGM, held on 22 November. In his speech he highlighted his Government’s commitment to achieving the goals set out in the NSW 2021: A Plan to make NSW Number One which was released in September this year. The Premier spoke of the explicit targets set in NSW 2021 and his determination to achieve these, especially as they related to reducing levels of disadvantage.

Importantly, he spoke about the role for the community sector in achieving the goals that have been set. While recognising that there will always be a need for governments to directly deliver services, the Premier said that his Government recognised that NGOs are well placed to work with disadvantaged and vulnerable people particularly those who are disengaged from government and mainstream services and support.

He indicated that his Government wants to make the most of this capacity and is committed to working closely with NGOs saying that the Government doesn’t believe it always has all the ideas or the best ideas. The Premier noted that we will no doubt disagree from time to time but that our input about how we can together make a difference is valuable and valued.

The Premier told us that the NSW Government supports the principle of equal pay and that he personally welcomed the announcement by the Prime Minister that the Commonwealth would provide supplementation for their share of any increase awarded in the sector Equal Pay Case. He said he looked forward to further discussions about how all governments could ensure workers in the sector were paid fairly and in a sustainable way.

These comments are timely as NCOSS prepares to publicly release its Pre-Budget Submission (PBS) for 2012-13. The PBS has already been provided to the Premier and his Cabinet and to senior Government officials so that, as they begin the process of developing the next State Budget, they can take into account our views on where their priorities should be.

The PBS follows on from Vote 1 Fairness in NSW, our election platform, and seeks through its recommendations to ensure budgetary measures are adopted to enhance the lives of those in our communities who are the most vulnerable and marginalised.

As always, there are many issues that could have been reflected in our PBS. Through input from our networks and forums, NCOSS endeavours to highlight those issues that have the highest priority at this point in time.

Across a range of portfolios and the breadth of our interests the PBS, together with our other policy advocacy, seeks to turn the intent of NSW 2021 into concrete action that will make a real difference for those who are doing it tough.

The Premier, in concluding his address at the AGM, said his Cabinet colleagues and he would be listening to suggestions from NCOSS and heeding our advice as the Government looks to provide high quality and sustainable services that reduce disadvantage and ensure everyone has a fair go.  

Download: Address to the 74th NCOSS AGM by The Hon Barry O’Farrell M.P., Premier of NSW

(photo: NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, NCOSS President Eileen Baldry and NCOSS Director Alison Peters at the NCOSS AGM.)

Positive pathway to asylum seeker policy PDF Print
Commonwealth Issues
Date added: 01 November 2011

A community delegation will converge on Canberra today to support the Federal Government's positive pathway towards community-based alternatives to immigration detention.

Chaired by the Refugee Council of Australia and involving 17 organisations representing millions of Australians the delegation will brief parliamentarians on best-practice community-based models to process asylum seekers.

RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said the delegation strongly supported the Government's decision to pursue onshore processing of all asylum applications and alternatives to detention to people arriving by boat without a visa. Mr Power said the delegation was reaching out to the Government to help develop successful long-term community models.

"Our message to the Government is clear - we are ready to work with Government to build community support for successful community processing models."

The delegation is also calling for a greater focus on regional development, which Mr Power said "will do more than any other set of measures to address the insecurity that forces refugees and asylum seekers to engage people-smugglers in their efforts to find greater safety."

In addition to those participating in this delegation, "hundreds of organisations support a more compassionate approach", according to ACOSS Chief Executive, Cassandra Goldie.

In September ACOSS gathered support for community based arrangements from over 260 leading organisations and leading charities.

"It is misguided to be looking at off-shore solutions when the most effective, economical and humane method for processing asylum seekers is right here on our doorstep" she said.

Organisations who are part of this delegation include: Amnesty International Australia, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Australian Council of Social Service, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Catalyst Australia Inc, ChilOut, Edmund Rice Centre, Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Federation of Ethnic Communities' Council of Australia, John Menadue, National Council of Churches in Australia, Oxfam Australia, Refugee Advice and Casework Service, Refugee Council of Australia, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, Welcome to Australia.

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew Williams 0488 035 535

New report on housing stress PDF Print
Date added: 25 October 2011

New research commissioned by Australians for Affordable Housing reveals that almost 300,000 NSW households are in housing stress. After paying for housing these households are at risk of financial hardship and poverty.

According to the research, some 180,000 renters in this state are in housing stress, representing 27% of renters. A further 112,000 home purchasers are in housing stress, representing 12% of home purchasers.

The report further strengthens the need for a clear plan, with numerical targets, to expand the supply of both social and affordable housing in NSW, as advocated by NCOSS.

Download:  Report Housing Costs Through the Roof: Australia's Housing Stress


Itís time to raise Newstart to tackle growing inequality in Australia: ACOSS Poverty Report PDF Print
Date added: 21 October 2011
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is calling on the Commonwealth Government to commit to increase income support allowances like Newstart as recommended by the Henry Review, in order to tackle the growing gap between the rich and poor in Australia.
New disability forum to help shape service delivery and policy PDF Print
Date added: 11 October 2011

NSW Minister for Disability Services Andrew Constance The NSW Minister for Disability Services Andrew Constance officially launched the NSW Disability Network Forum on 20 September. NCOSS is providing secretariat support for the Forum which will be a strong coordinated voice for people with a disability, helping to shape government policy and guide improvements in the delivery of disability services. The Forum comprises peak non-government advocacy groups and will focus on people who use and rely on disability services - people with a disability, their families and carers.

Member organisations of the NSW Disability Network Forum

  • Aboriginal Disability Network NSW
  • Association of Blind Citizens of NSW
  • Brain Injury Association NSW
  • Citizen Advocacy Western Sydney
  • Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS)
  • DeafBlind Association NSW
  • Deaf Society of NSW
  • Institute For Family Advocacy
  • Intellectual Disability Rights Service
  • Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of NSW
  • NSW Consumer Advisory Group - Mental Health
  • NSW Council for Intellectual Disability
  • NSW Disability Advocacy Network
  • Physical Disability Council of NSW
  • People with Disability Australia
  • Self Advocacy Sydney
  • Positive Life NSW

More information:

The NSW Disability Network Forum can be contacted through the NCOSS secretariat:

Christine Regan
email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
phone: 02 92112599 ext 117

Val Kors (Wed – Fri)
email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
phone: 02 92112599 ext 123

 Photo: NSW Minister for Disability Services Andrew Constance speaking at the launch of the NSW Disability Network Forum

Government funding gives people with disability international representation PDF Print
Date added: 11 October 2011

Representatives present at the announcement at the Australian Human Rights CommissionPeople with disability and their representatives will share in $300,000 in Australian Government funding over three years to attend key international forums on human rights. The money was announced on 29 September 2011 by Senator Jan McLucas, the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, and Graeme Innes, Disability Discrimination Commissioner.

The funding, under the Commonwealth’s National Disability Strategy, will support delegations representing peak disability and advocacy organisations to better represent the needs of people with disability internationally.

Details on this new initiative including eligibility can be found on the Australian Human Rights Commission's website.


Representatives present at the announcement at the Australian Human Rights Commission (l-r):
Therese Sands, Executive Director, People With Disability Australia; Graeme Innes, Disability Discrimination Commissioner; Senator Jan McLucas, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers; Christine Regan, Senior Policy Officer, NCOSS; Ruth Robinson, Executive Officer, Physical Disability Council of NSW; Sam French Systemic Advocacy Manager, People With Disability Australia

NCOSS welcomes new affordable housing PDF Print
Date added: 05 October 2011

NCOSS is pleased to hear that NSW has been allocated 4,700 extra houses under round four of the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS). The allocation was announced by the Federal Government on 4th October.

NRAS is being delivered in partnership with state and territory governments and provides annual financial incentive payments to project sponsors to construct new dwellings to rent to eligible low and moderate income households at a rate that is at least 20 per cent below the prevailing market rents.

NCOSS has been concerned that NSW fared poorly under earlier NRAS funding rounds despite the fact that NSW households clearly experience the highest level of rental stress in the country.

We have been campaigning to ensure that NSW receives a fair share of all further NRAS funding rounds. Under round 4 NSW has received 28% of available incentives, a marked improvement on earlier rounds.

For further information: http://www.environment.gov.au/housing/nras/index.html

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