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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.

Government changes position on social housing rents PDF Print
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.


Housing and Mental Health Agreement PDF Print
NSW State Budget
Date added: 14 June 2012

The Housing and Mental Health Agreement was signed in August 2011 by NSW Ministry of Health and the Department of Family and Community Services and is currently being implemented.

The aim of the Agreement is to improve housing outcomes and general well-being for people with mental health problems and disorders who are living in social housing, or who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, by promoting good practice in providing coordinated services at the local level. It is about strengthening the way local services work together rather than implementing a new program or service.

The Agreement is being implemented through Housing and Mental Health District Implementation and Coordinating Committees (DIACCs). Local Health Districts form the geographic basis for these Committees, with each Local Health District (LHD) across NSW being covered by a DIACC.

Membership of the DIACCs will include partner government agencies and NGOs, with engagement with consumer and carer representatives. DIACCs are in the process of being established now. As this work continues, senior managers from Housing NSW and Local Health Districts will make contact with key NGOs in the housing and mental health service system in their District.

If you would like to be updated about progress with establishing the DIACC in your region you can email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also use this email to register your interest in becoming involved in the DIACC, in any way that suits your organisation.

NCOSS, the MHCC and the NSW Consumer Advisory Group Mental Health are represented on the state-wide Interagency Implementation Group for the Agreement.





NCOSS Analysis of the 2012-13 NSW State Budget PDF Print
NSW State Budget
Date added: 13 June 2012

NCOSS presented a preliminary analysis of the 2012-13 NSW State Budget at a seminar at the NSW Teachers Federation on 13 June 2012.  Our analysis will be updated as information becomes available. 

See also: Media Release: Lack of investment in social infrastructure may undermine fiscal responsibility


Transport plans need a social approach, not just an economic focus PDF Print
Date added: 13 June 2012

An NCOSS transport op-ed piece in today's Sydney Morning Herald (13 June, 2012):

"Transport's potential to shape a fairer society should be front and centre in the government's decision-making."

Read in full: smh.com.au

No such thing as a free ride PDF Print
Date added: 08 June 2012

TRainby Rhiannon Cook
Many people find the idea of free public transport attractive. Some people see it as a way of ensuring services are affordable to everyone, while others believe it would provide a huge boost to public transport patronage. But in reality there’s no such thing as a ‘free’ public transport service. And since someone has to pay, the question is who: the taxpayer or the user? If taxpayers were to cover the entire cost of our public transport services – making them ‘free’ to the user – the people who would benefit the most would be those already using the system, and those for whom it is readily accessible.

But what about those people who don’t have ready access to public transport, such as those people who don’t live close to a train line or a well-serviced bus route? They’d be paying the tax but not receiving any benefit. This would include a large proportion of low-income households who can’t afford to live in locations with good public transport services. Over the long term, free public transport would make housing near stations (and stops) more attractive, and therefore more expensive, forcing low-income households further away from ‘free’ services.

If no money were recovered through the fare box, this would also reduce the amount of money available for reinvesting in the system: in increasing the network’s coverage and improving the frequency and quality of services. And for most people this is the real barrier to using public transport, not price. The services simply don’t exist, or are too unreliable or too infrequent to present an attractive alternative to the car.

So if we accept that given the current state of the public transport network, and current budgetary constraints, people who use public transport should pay, the question then becomes, how much?

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) currently determine maximum public transport fares based on the principle that fares should cover the gap between the cost of a service and the external benefits of that service (such as through reduced congestion and reduced air and noise pollution).

This may be a reasonable starting point, but IPART’s fare determinations must then be overlaid by a number of other policy considerations.

Firstly, for some people the question is not what should they pay, but what can they pay. Affordability concerns could be addressed by keeping prices low for everyone, or through targeted measures such as concessions. Unfortunately, the absence of a clear, consistent and equitable framework for concessions means affordable access for people on low incomes is not guaranteed. As a result some groups – such as jobseekers and asylum seekers – experience disadvantage, and any fares increases would therefore lead to further social exclusion.

Secondly, if we are to move towards a more sustainable transport system, fares should be set at a level that encourages people to switch to public transport. While cost is not presently the main barrier to public transport use, people will continue to use the mode of most convenience unless there is a monetary incentive to do otherwise. This means it is not possible to make good policy decisions about public transport fares without considering the relative cost of driving. Overall, the transport pricing system should be geared towards making public transport the more attractive option, and ticket prices should therefore generally be lower than the (perceived) price of car travel.

As the Government implements its new electronic ticketing system, fairness and sustainability should form the basis of any subsequent fare restructures. And if it is to find the right balance between free and full fare, the Government will need to consider the interactions between pricing mechanisms (including the concessions system) across all transport modes.

Originally printed in June NCOSS News , the NCOSS member newsletter.
Australian report highlights costs of health inequity PDF Print
Date added: 06 June 2012

The findings of an Australia-first study highlight the costs of health inequity to our society. The NATSEM report, The Cost of Inaction on the Social Determinants of Health, found that if the most disadvantaged Australians had the same health outcomes as the most well-off Australians, then 500,000 people could avoid suffering a chronic illness. This would result in annual health savings of:

  • $2.3 billion in hospital costs;
  • $273 million in Medicare services; and
  • $184.5 million in Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme prescriptions each year.

It would also save the Commonwealth Government $4 billion each year in welfare payments and generate $8 billion in extra earnings for the national economy.

The report calls for Australia to adopt the recommendations of the World Health Organisation to reduce the 'health gap' and address the underlying causes of ill-health through a Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach. These findings support ACOSS's campaign to raise unemployment allowances to address entrenched poverty and exclusion as a health issues as much as an economic issue. NCOSS is having preliminary discussions with the NSW Ministry of Health about possible opportunities to progress a HiAP approach in NSW. The study was undertaken by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) and commissioned by Catholic Health Australia.

DownloadThe Cost of Inaction on the Social Determinants of Health (June 2012)

Sorting the wheat from the chaff... PDF Print
Date added: 06 June 2012

The National Disability Insurance Scheme and Individual Budgets
by Christine Regan

The Federal Budget provided a very welcome boost to the introduction of a proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). This builds on previous steps including the provision of $20m for technical and administrative developments, the establishment of a Select Committee at Federal and State Ministerial levels to oversee development and an Advisory Committee of nominated disability experts to guide the shape and progress of the Scheme.

NSW is represented on the Select Committee by Minister Andrew Constance and on the Advisory Committee by Brendan O'Reilly, former head of ADHC and Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The 2012 Federal Budget provides the funding for the announcements by the Prime Minister at the NDIS rally in Sydney in early May. One billion dollars is allocated over four years for 10,000 people with disability in 2013 to begin on the NDIS in four initial launch sites with a further 10,000 people in 2014 in another four sites across Australia. If fully implemented, the NDIS is intended to cover 410,000 people with disabilities in Australia. There is no news on where the launch sites will be but NSW Minister Constance has nominated at least the Hunter in NSW.

For the NDIS to become secure and fully operational, however, the Federal Government must enact legislation that enables and enshrines the NDIS, as recommended by the Productivity Commission, and it must be fully funded in the Budget forward estimates. The Budget allocations are great first steps but the Campaign continues.

NCOSS is concerned about worrying and misleading commentary on both the NDIS and its proposed use of individual funding arrangements or personal budgets for people with disability. There is a strong focus on individualised funding arrangements under Stronger Together 2 in NSW which, from 1 July 2014, will offer people with disability and their families the opportunity to make decisions about how they use their allocated funding towards personal goals, improved supports and a better life.

Community Builders Fixed Term funding PDF Print
NSW Community Sector
Date added: 05 June 2012
The Community Builders Fixed Term program funds not-for-profit organisations and local government authorities in selected regions to undertake local projects to build community capacity and connect vulnerable and disadvantaged people with their community.

Applications for the next round are now open and close at midnight on 28 June 2012. Further information is available from the Community Builders Website www.communitybuilders.nsw.gov.au 

NCOSS Says: State Budget – will it make NSW Number 1 for Fairness? PDF Print
NSW State Budget
Date added: 04 June 2012

by Alison Peters, NCOSS Director
NSW Treasurer, Mike Baird, will deliver the O’Farrell Government’s second Budget on 12 June. Budgets are important reflections of governments’ priorities as they, in effect, provide the resourcing necessary to implement key policy directions. While most media and public attention is given to “Budget Day”, work is done over many months to distil and refine government spending and revenue measures that reflect these priorities.

The Premier has said that the Government’s Budget will focus on delivering the commitments made prior to the 2011 election and the goals outlined in the State Plan, NSW 2021. The Treasurer and other Cabinet members have talked about the need to rein in spending in light of lower levels of GST and other revenue sources. While the rhetoric is firmly one of no money for new measures there have been examples where money has been found for particular initiatives that NCOSS and others would argue could have been spent elsewhere for greater benefit.

This illustrates that government decisions are often a question of balancing competing priorities. It is important therefore for NCOSS and the community sector to understand the Government’s priorities as reflected in the Budget and assess what the implications are for low income, disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

Where there may be negative impacts it is incumbent on us to advocate for different priorities and strategies and to highlight the benefits of a fairer society for all people. This is our priority, not just when budgets are delivered but in the framing of future budgets as well.

Late last year, NCOSS released its Pre-Budget Submission (PBS), Making NSW Number 1 for Fairness where we outlined budget measures that we believed were necessary to make a difference and reduce disadvantage for people and communities. NCOSS recommendations included:

  • Investment to increase the supply of social and affordable housing over the next four years.
  • Increased funding for the NSW public dental system through additional Oral Health Fee for Service Scheme vouchers and other measures.
  • Funding so that the NSW Govern-ment meets its commitment to pay their fair share of funding to enable a seamless transition to pay rates determined in the Equal Pay case.

NCOSS believes that as a sector our role is to both deliver high quality services and to advocate for policies, programs and services that are the right ones, targeted to the right people at the right time to reduce disadvantage. The services delivered by the sector are critically important but these can be enhanced by work in other areas and this needs to be identified and supported as keenly as our advocacy for services delivered directly by us.

While our focus will be on the recommendations contained in the NCOSS PBS, NCOSS will also be assessing the Budget more broadly against the Government’s own priorities as outlined in their election commitments and NSW 2021. Regardless of whether NCOSS specific recommendations are reflected in the Budget that is delivered on 12 June, we will want to see spending and revenue measures that make NSW Number 1 for Fairness.

NCOSS will provide its analysis of the State Budget in a briefing for the sector on 13 June (details here). July NCOSS News will include a detailed analysis.

Originally printed in June NCOSS News , the NCOSS member newsletter.


2012-13 NSW State Budget and NCOSS Budget Analysis Seminar PDF Print
NSW State Budget
Date added: 29 May 2012

The Budget will be delivered by the Treasurer on 12 June 2012. NCOSS staff will go to Parliament House on Budget Day to analyse the budget papers, and this analysis will be presented at a community sector forum on the following day. 

Seminar: NCOSS analysis of the 2012-13 NSW State Budget

  • When: 2pm-4pm, 13 June 2012
  • Where: Club Room, NSW Teachers Federation, 23 Mary Street, Surry Hills
  • RSVP by 6 June 2012: to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or ph: 9211 2599, ext 118
  • Special needs:  Please let This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it know if you have any special needs (eg dietary, wheelchair access) when you register.
Note: For those not able to attend the seminar, proceedings will be webcast live on the NCOSS website.  Check the website on the day for information on how to connect.


Transition to the SCHCADS Award PDF Print
SACS Award
Date added: 24 May 2012

During the recent Equal Pay and SACS forums held throughout NSW a number of questions about the process of translating positions to the SCHCADS modern Award classification structure and the Equal Pay decision were raised by participants. The most common questions have been collated into a Tip Sheet which has been produced to keep the sector informed at this critical time.

Download: Get the Facts: Equal Pay & SACS’ Reclassification Tip Sheet (May 2012)

With effect from 1st July 2012, the job roles of all SACS employees covered by the SCHADS Modern Award must be classified under the modern award. NDS, ASU, Jobs Australia and NCOSS are working in collaboration to assist employers and employees in the smooth translation from a 6 level classification structure to an 8 level classification structure across NSW. To assist employers and employees with this process NDS, NCOSS and the ASU agreed to a FIVE step process that allows for employers and employees to cooperatively move to the SCHADS Award Classifications.  

Download:  Guide for Employers and Employees in the Appeals process for classifications under the Modern Award (May 2012)

Download:  Reclassification Appeal Application Form (May 2012)

Please note that NCOSS is not an industrial organisation and is therefore unable to provide specific industrial relations information and advice. This material is provided as part of our commitment to ensuring general information that is useful and necessary for the community services sector is widely available. If further information or advice is required after considering this information, please speak directly to your industrial advisor body. 

Improved protections for Boarding House residents announced PDF Print
Date added: 11 May 2012

NCOSS welcomes the Ministers’ announcements on improved protections for residents in Boarding Houses. The proposed reforms include the introduction of occupancy rights for residents of all types of boarding houses, the introduction of a registration system and increased powers of entry by regulatory bodies. They should deliver long awaited advances to housing and support standards, including for people with disability in licensed premises. NCOSS, along with the sector, looks forward to working on the new legislation and consequent implementation policies and strategies.

NCOSS meets with the Director General of Planning and Infrastructure PDF Print
Planning and Infrastructure
Date added: 08 May 2012

On 7 May 2012, NCOSS met with Sam Haddad, Director General of the Department of Planning andInfrastructure, to discuss our Pre Budget Submission for 2012-13. While the Department is not a funding body, the planning system has an important role to play in facilitating the provision of affordable housing. NCOSS emphasised the need for the NSW Government to develop a clear affordable housing plan, including numerical targets, on a whole of government basis and in partnership with the Commonwealth. We had a positive discussion about the opportunities presented by the work of the Affordable Housing Task Force, and other planning reviews, and the link between housing supply and the roll out of new public transport infrastructure.

For more information, contact Warren Gardiner, NCOSS Senior Policy Officer, ph: 9211 2599, ext 112, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  
Putting money where the mouth is: solutions for Australia’s dental crisis PDF Print
Date added: 02 May 2012

Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) has launched a major campaign calling for action on the public dental crisis in next week's Federal Budget. The special edition of Health Voices focuses on oral health reform. It features contributions from the Minister for Health, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP; Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Peter Dutton MP; Greens Health Spokesperson Senator Richard Di Natale; and ACOSS President, Cassandra Goldie, alongside many leading voices in the dental reform debate.

Rental snapshot highlights shortage of affordable housing PDF Print
Date added: 30 April 2012

Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Snapshot, released today, confirms that low income households are finding it increasingly difficult to access affordable and appropriate housing in the private rental market.

The report examined all advertised properties in 15 regions to see if they were affordable for several categories of income support recipients and workers on low wages. While there were over 10,000 advertised properties in Sydney, very few were affordable.

In regional areas of NSW there were generally very few rental properties available, affordable or otherwise.

These findings reinforce the need for a concerted Commonwealth/State plan to substantially increase the supply of both social and affordable housing, as advocated in the NCOSS 2012-13 Pre Budget Submission.


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