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Wednesday 19 October 2016

A new plan released today from the NSW Council of Social Service shows a path forward for the NSW 2017 Budget to reduce the experience of poverty and disadvantage in NSW and prevent it happening in the first place.

The plan identifies investment in a cost of living package, mental health services for young people, early childhood education, a state-wide roll out of nurse-led home visits, oral health services and Phase 2 of the Social and Affordable Housing Fund as key priorities.   

NCOSS CEO Tracy Howe said the plan was the result of extensive consultation across the state with communities, with services and with people experiencing poverty and disadvantage themselves.

“A big concern was the large and growing number of children experiencing poverty and disadvantage being allowed to fall behind.

“This plan will ensure all children, no matter what their circumstances, have access to a safe, healthy and productive start to life through access to nurse-home visits, early education, and housing.

“It will also help to ensure their continued wellbeing through access to mental health services where needed.”

A survey of 417 households receiving income support found their top priority issues for the upcoming budget were a quality health system and affordable cost of living.

“People need to be assured that when their health becomes an issue they will have access to the services they need.

“When asked what the one thing was the Government could do to help them improve their health, access to dental services was the top pick. Going to the dentist remains prohibitively expensive for too many people.

“We are hearing from people on the ground that some are being forced to draw on their Super to afford a visit to the dentist. When dental health is so critical to overall health, we must do better than this.”

Ms Howe said it was pleasing to see Phase 1 of the Social and Affordable Housing fund recently legislated for.

“Now we need to look at how we take this model forward and provide even more households with a safe and secure roof over their head that meets their particular needs.

“Regional, rural and remote areas, older women, Aboriginal communities and women, children and young people experiencing domestic and family violence all have particular housing needs and we believe Phase 2 of the fund can bolster housing stock in these areas.”

Ms Howe said new figures released this week from the Australian Council of Social Service that show levels of poverty are becoming entrenched across Australia indicated the need to start doing things differently.

“Things aren’t changing and they desperately need to. This plan comes from communities themselves. We must listen to the solutions they are putting forward and continue working with them. When we invest in our communities that investment can go further than we imagine.”