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NCOSS Blog
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.

Comment on ICAC Paper about ways to control corruption in NGOs PDF Print
Sector Development
Date added: 29 August 2012

An invitation has been made by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to comment on their paper Funding NGO Delivery of Human Services in NSW: A period of transition.

Responses are to focus on systems of control to prevent corruption that may be applied to government agency design, the interface between agencies and NGOs and the broader environment in which they both operate. There is a list of 37 specific questions that can be addressed, as well as an invitation to comment more broadly.

Submissions are due by:  5pm Friday 5 October 2012.

Download: Invitation from ICAC

Download: ICAC Consultation Paper 

Read more...
 
National dental health reform package PDF Print
Health
Date added: 29 August 2012

The Gillard Government and the Greens have agreed to a $4.1 billion Dental Health Reform package over six-years, in addition to the $515 million announced in the 2012-13 Budget:

  • Medicare-subsidised dental treatment for children aged up to 17 years means-tested from Family Tax Benefit-A eligible families, capped at $1,000 per child over a two-year period ($2.7 billion)
  • Expanded public dental services for adults on low incomes, pensioners, other concession card holders, and those with special needs through enhanced funding to states and territories under a National Partnership Agreement ($1.3 billion); and
  • Dental capital and workforce funding to support expanded services for people living in outer metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas ($226 million).

The Dental Health Reform package will replace the Medicare Teen Dental Plan and the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (CDDS), which will be closed within three months. This package will build on the 2012-13 Federal Budget funding which included a blitz on public dental waiting lists, additional dental training and support for people in rural and remote areas.

NCOSS welcomes the package as a positive step to improving access to oral health care for disadvantaged people, and towards the creation of a longer-term universal access oral health system.

 
Extension of deadline for University Scholarships for Community Organisations PDF Print
NSW Government
Date added: 20 August 2012

The NSW Government is offering five scholarships in the Graduate Diploma in Public Administration, each to the value of approximately $27,000, as part of an initiative to support workforce development in the community sector.

The Diploma is an 18-month course offered by the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney. It encompasses important themes of study relevant to contemporary organisations including leadership and strategic administration, Commonwealth/State/Local government relations and whole of government policy development and program implementation.

Your assistance in circulating this information within your organisation or to other organisations in the community sector would be appreciated. The application deadline has been extended and applications should be returned to the NSW Public Service Commission by 31 August 2012.

Information

Resources

 

 

 
Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs Community Consultations PDF Print
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues
Date added: 15 August 2012

Update from Minister Victor Dominello, 14 August 2012

Thank you for your contribution to the work of the Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs. There was a great response from Aboriginal communities during our public consultation in January and February – more than 1,700 people attended a community forum and we received over 200 written submissions including some 4,000 individual comments. You can view the Consultation Report online if you would like to know what we heard.

Over the last six months, we’ve carefully considered what Aboriginal communities and stakeholders have said and this has guided the development of several proposals in the areas of education and training, employment and service delivery.

These proposals are outlined in our Progress Report which I have attached for your information. To report back to Aboriginal communities and stakeholders and to test if the Taskforce’s approach is on the right track, we are holding a second round of community forums in late August and September (a list of dates and locations is included below). I invite you to come along and give us your specific feedback.

To make it easier for communities to have their say, we have also developed a survey on the key proposals in the Progress Report. The survey will be available on our website and can also be filled out at the community forums.

I encourage you to read the Progress Report , forward this email to friends and family, attend a forum, and fill out a survey to let us know your views.

I look forward to your continued involvement. Partnership is vital for the changes we need to make together.

Yours sincerely
Victor Dominello MP
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

Download:   Dates, times and locations for community consultations

 

 
Australian Community Sector Survey 2012 PDF Print
Commonwealth Issues
Date added: 13 August 2012

Australia's housing and homelessness services are stretched and unable to meet growing demand for services, but are closely followed by community legal services which are facing chronic underfunding, longer waiting lists, and turning away greater numbers of people, according to the ACOSS Australian Community Sector Survey 2012 released today.

The survey, completed by 665 agencies from around the country, provides the most comprehensive picture of how the non-government community services and welfare sector is travelling. This year the report reveals the extent of the crisis engulfing the nation’s community legal services.

About 73% of legal services around the country reported not being about to meet demand for services, surpassed only by the problems we know are facing housing and homeless services," said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

"There is no doubt that housing and homelessness services remain the area of highest need in our community, with 81% reporting they simply cannot meet demand. Despite this there is some good news with a drop in the number of services actually turning people away."

"This is evidence that investment in areas such as the social housing initiative have made a positive impact on services. But there are far too many people being turned away – a total of 20,496 over the year or 56 people each day. There remain clear areas of unmet demand and an urgent need for sustained investment over time to address homelessness adequately. We must continue our efforts to expand the supply of affordable housing, and to ensure homelessness services are adequately funded."

"The other headline from the report is the depth of crisis facing community legal services. A record 11,693 (or 14%) people presenting for help were turned away over the past year of reporting. They tell us they’ve had to restrict services to clients resulting in increasing waiting lists."

"This is particularly concerning since community legal centres work with partners in legal aid commissions and Indigenous legal services to help people who cannot afford a lawyer. Over 80% of the people they help receive under $26,000 a year in income. These are people who do not qualify for legal aid and seeking help with civil and family law issues, such as evictions, tenancy, debts, family violence, dismissals and employment issues and relationship breakdown."

"We know that Australian Government legal aid funding per capita has fallen by about 22 per cent in real terms since 1997. Even the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department has noted that 98 per cent of legal aid recipients receive an income that could be considered below the poverty line. This leaves much of Australia unable to afford legal representation."

"ACOSS' Report is further evidence of this gross underfunding and the devastating impacting it’s having – not only on services but also on the people they are there to assist, some of the most disadvantaged groups in our community."

"The findings vindicate calls by Community Law Australia (a coalition of community legal centres from across the nation) for an urgent injection of Commonwealth funds to ensure all Australians can access a basic level of legal assistance,” Dr Goldie said.

Other services reporting high levels of unmet need include: Mental health (57%); Domestic violence and sexual assault support (52%); Youth Services (46%); and Emergency Relief (45%). See key findings below.  

 
National Regulatory System for Community Housing Providers PDF Print
Housing
Date added: 06 August 2012

Consultation on draft guidelines Housing NSW has organised five stakeholder consultations as part of the next stage in the establishment of the National Regulatory System for Community Housing Providers.

At these consultations they will be seeking sector input on the draft Evidence Guidelines, Tier Guidelines and Enforcement Guidelines which have been developed to support the operations of the National Regulatory System. They will also be providing an update on the progress of, and next steps for, the National Regulatory System.

Draft guidelines will shortly be available on the NRS website www.nrsch.gov.au

The consultations are being held at the following five locations. Download the invitation for the details on each location:

  • Sydney City 21 August 2012
  • Parramatta 27 August 2012
  • Wagga Wagga 29 August 2012
  • Coffs Harbour 5 September 2012
  • Orange 7 September 2012

Please RSVP to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it the location which you wish to attend and any special requirements you may have, when you RSVP by 17 August 2012

DownloadInvitation

 
Going Home, Staying Home PDF Print
Homelessness
Date added: 06 August 2012

The Housing Puzzleby Alison Peters and Warren Gardiner

There has been much use of the word “reform” in connection with specialist homelessness services. A dictionary definition says that reform is about making things better. The key, therefore, is what we mean by “better”. As we work together on progressing this agenda we must be clear about what it is we want to be better so that what we do is about achieving that end.

NCOSS has always seen homelessness in a broad context. To us, many homeless people have fallen through the cracks because of wider systems failures – in the housing system, the justice system, the health system, the social security system, and the education system, amongst others.

Given this, we are comfortable with the underlying assumption of both the Commonwealth White Paper and the NSW Homelessness Action Plan that to make progress on reducing homelessness must involve joint efforts by both the specialist homelessness services and other service systems.

People who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, have a right to expect that a range of services will be available to assist them, and that such assistance will be provided in a co-ordinated or joined up way. This highlights another systems challenge that we face – correctly identifying what someone needs, and getting multiple agencies (government and non-government) to respond in a client-centred, formalised and co-ordinated way.

 

Read more...
 
Equal Remuneration Order and SCHCADS Modern Award Information Forums PDF Print
SACS Award
Date added: 27 July 2012

NDS, NCOSS and Jobs Australia are co-hosting a series of forums to provide a further update on the changes within the industrial landscape occurring during 2012.

These changes are as a result of the introduction of the Modern Award (Social, Community Home Care & Disability Services Industry Award 2010) and the outcome from the Equal Pay Case.

A key focus of the forums will be on the outcome from the National Equal Pay Case and how the changes will affect both organisations and individuals.

Disability and community service providers are invited to join the NSW Equal Remuneration Order and SCHADS Modern Award Information Forums on the following dates:

  • Thursday 23 August: Liverpool - 9.30 am to 12.30 pm
  • Thursday 23 August: Liverpool - 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm
  • Tuesday 28 August: Maitland - 9.30 am to 12.30 pm
  • Tuesday 28 August: Maitland - 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm
  • Wednesday 29 August: Wollongong - 9.30 am to 12.30 pm
  • Wednesday 29 August: Wollongong - 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm
  • Thursday 30 August: Parramatta - 9.30 am to 12.30 pm
  • Thursday 30 August: Parramatta - 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm
  • Tuesday 11 September: Wagga Wagga - 9.30 am to 12.30 pm
  • Wednesday 12 September: Orange - 9.30 am to 12.30 pm
  • Thursday 13 September: Tamworth - 9.30 am to 12.30 pm
  • Monday 17 September: Ballina - 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm
  • Tuesday 18 September: Port Macquarie - 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm

To attend, please register through the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QLM98SB

Venue information will be provided following registration. There are limited spaces available so please register early.

Contact Information: Jay Richardson, IR & Workforce Development Project Manager, National Disability Services, Ph. 02 9256 3107, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
Health Transport Workshop, Lismore, 26 July 2012 PDF Print
Transport
Date added: 26 July 2012

NCOSS, together with the Northern Rivers Social Development Council, recently hosted a health transport workshop in Lismore. Attended by representatives from both the transport and health sectors, the workshop provided an opportunity to examine transport-related barriers to accessing health services.

While participants had all witnessed a growing need for health transport services – due to both demographic changes and to the centralisation of health services – this had not been supported by any growth in funding. In the absence of a strategic approach to the delivery of health transport, the system was seen to have developed into a confusing labyrinth of services with complex and inconsistent eligibility criteria. The lack of coordination was also contributing to the inefficient use of resources.

It was felt that transport was not given due consideration either during the planning of health services and programs, or in the delivery. As a result, both clients and transport providers struggled to overcome challenges ranging from the lack of transport options through to inappropriate discharge practices and referral pathways.

For many Aboriginal people the health transport issues identified during the workshop are compounded. Not only are many Aboriginal communities isolated, with poor access to both public and private transport, but Aboriginal people also experience a greater burden of ill-health. Yet the specific needs of Aboriginal people as they relate to health transport have not been given the attention they deserve. Both the lack of consultation and the lack of culturally appropriate services – issues that go hand in hand – were identified as barriers.

While agreeing that systemic changes are needed at the State level, participants also held constructive conversations about working together to address local issues. A commitment was made to improve the systems used for notifying transport providers of client discharges, and it was agreed to further explore the experiences of Aboriginal people in relation to discharge and transport. Participants also expressed strong support for reconvening regular Health Transport Network meetings.

Using the findings from both the Lismore workshop and a similar workshop held in Sydney in May, NCOSS is now developing recommendations for a Health Transport Report due to be launched in October. If you would like to provide any input into this report, please contact Rhiannon Cook on 9211 2599, ext 128 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
Scholarships for Board members and Chairs PDF Print
Sector Development
Date added: 24 July 2012

440 Scholarships are being offered to non-executive board members and chairs of charitable organisations by the Australian Scholarships Foundation (ASF) in partnership with the Perpetual Foundation and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Participants will complete either The Not-for-Profit Board or The Not-for-Profit Chair courses. Each scholarship is valued at over $1,000.

Application must be made by 5 August 2012

Read moreScholarships for Board members and Chairs- Apply Now

 
NSW Ageing Strategy PDF Print
Older People
Date added: 11 July 2012

The NSW Government has released its whole-of-government Ageing Strategy for NSW. The Strategy involves measures to address the needs of older people as well as supporting population ageing. The actions and goals of the Strategy are aligned to the NSW 2012 State Plan

Highlights of the Ageing Strategy include:

  • a new Help Line and Resource Unit to stop abuse of older people;
  • an expanded information and consultation mechanism through the Seniors Card;
  • promotion of healthy lifestyles, sport, cultural and creative activities;
  • safer driving for older drivers, and support for transition from a driving to a non-driving life for older people; and
  • exploring affordable housing solutions for older people.

Measures to address population ageing include:

  • supporting the recognition of workplace skills held by mature age workers;
  • removal of barriers to work for mature age workers;
  • promoting early decision-making about later life, including wills, powers of attorney, enduring guardianship and advance care directives amongst people of all ages; and
  • grants to support local government to improve mobility access and liveability in built environments such as town centres.

The Ageing Strategy will also involve a detailed Implementation Plan, new governance arrangements (including input from NGOs), and reporting.

Download: NSW Ageing Strategy

 
Draft Boarding Houses Bill released for comment PDF Print
Housing
Date added: 04 July 2012

On 10 May 2012, Ministers Constance and Roberts announced that the NSW Government intended to introduce improved protection for boarding house residents. Further to this announcement, the Government has now released an exposure draft Boarding Houses Bill 2012 and accompanying Position Paper for comment.

Comments and submissions are due by Friday, 10 August 2012, and may be emailed to: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
Community Services change policy regarding references for NGOs PDF Print
NSW Government
Date added: 21 June 2012
NCOSS has been informed that Community Services staff will no longer provide references or referees reports to NGOs tendering or applying for grants from the NSW or Commonwealth Governments. Community Services wish to avoid the perception of providing a benefit to a NGO in a competitive process. Community Services staff will provide, on request, a statement attesting to the fact that Community Services has provided an NGO with funding and that the NGO has met performance and accountability requirements. This statement will not provide an opinion of the suitability of the NGO to receive funding.
 
Law and Justice Foundation of NSW General Grants 2012 PDF Print
Funding Issues
Date added: 15 June 2012

The Law and Justice Foundation NSW's General Grants program aims to improve access to justice, particularly for economically and socially disadvantaged people, by supporting selected projects to improve access and decrease barriers to justice, or through research, to identify needs or ways to improve access to justice. 

Round 2 of General Grants 2012 is now open and applications close 5pm, Friday, 31 August 2012.  General grants are awarded for projects with budgets of between $5,000 and $50,000 (excluding GST).

DownloadInformation Sheet

 
Government changes position on social housing rents PDF Print
Housing
Date added: 14 June 2012

Minister Goward has announced that the NSW Government, from March 2013, will count the Carbon Tax Compensation Payment for the purposes of calculating public housing rents.  This is different to past practice, where supplements such as this have not been counted for this purpose.  This announcement is also contrary to advice provided by the Department at one of its Budget briefings on Tuesday.  NCOSS is concerned that this announcement will have substantial impact on low income public housing tenants but will not address the major issue of a lack of investment in social housing.  NCOSS will be seeking to clarify with Government this change in policy and practice and whether or not other solutions might be preferable.

 

 
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