The peak NSW social services body is calling for energy price relief, better dental care, and more secure and affordable rent as it launched its 2023 Policy Platform.
The NSW Council of Social Services (NCOSS) put forward eight recommendations for policymakers to consider, in a bid to better support vulnerable NSW citizens.
NCOSS CEO, Joanna Quilty, said the past three years of constant upheaval has taken a toll, and the community is looking for practical support around the rising cost of living, housing insecurity and healthcare.
“The events of the last three years events haven’t been felt evenly. We know it’s low-income households and disadvantaged communities who have borne the brunt,” Ms Quilty said.
“That’s why we need investment that wards off widening inequality and entrenchment of disadvantage.
“We have reached a tipping point where families are being hit by rising costs, stagnant wages, and on top of all that, seemingly never-ending natural disasters.
“Social services are on the frontline supporting these families, and we’re seeing firsthand the toll that it’s taking. We need urgent and purposeful action to combat these pressures.
“We are calling on policymakers to endorse our Policy Platform and work together to build a fairer NSW.
“We have consulted extensively with our frontline services and broader networks over the past four years to inform these eight recommendations – they reflect the pressing needs on the ground.
“We are also calling for extended contract terms and adequate annual indexation for social services organisations.
“This will allow social services providers to better support those who desperately need consistent and steady help, and will provide job security and certainty for the largely female workforce”
The recommendations are grouped into three categories: cost of living relief, supporting the most vulnerable, and social services sector sustainability.
The eight recommendations include:
1. Respond to rising energy prices: Increase cap on Energy Accounts Payment Assistance vouchers to $1,600 per year
2. Improve access to dental care: Double funding for public dental outreach services
3. Make renting more secure and affordable: Replace no grounds evictions with a range of specified reasonable ground
4. Invest in social infrastructure so essential support reaches those in need: Provide core funding for neighbourhood centres and other similar services
5. Enhance safety, security and wellbeing for women impacted by domestic and family violence: Construct social housing for the 4,812 women and their children experiencing domestic violence
6. Bolster children’s safety, social development and educational outcomes: Increase investment in the Targeted Early Intervention Program by 25 per cent
7. Limit harm caused by pokies on vulnerable communities: Mandate use of a cashless gaming card across NSW venues operating pokies
8. Strengthen sustainability of the NSW social services sector as a growth industry and key employer of women: Extend standard contract terms to seven and 10 years for rural and remote communities.
For more information, and to read a copy of the Policy Platform, visit www.ncoss.org.au.
Media contact: Nick Trainor 0407 078 138