The NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) has released a detailed plan today which outlines a roadmap for next year’s NSW Budget to help alleviate poverty and inequality in NSW.
The report points to key priority areas for investment, including early childhood education, childhood obesity prevention and child-centred domestic violence services; energy affordability; housing for our most vulnerable; a fair justice system for Aboriginal communities; mental health supports; financially empowering women; and disability advocacy.
NCOSS CEO, Tracy McLeod Howe, said the report was informed by extensive consultations.
“We’ve toured the state hearing from over 570 community services and leaders and we’ve also spoken directly to 440 people living below the poverty line through our Cost of Living survey,” said Ms McLeod Howe.
“We heard loud and clear that the top priority area for action was ensuring children and young people the best start in life.
“It’s a sobering reality that here in NSW 1 in 7 children are living below the poverty line, and that all too often this shapes their entire life course.
“We’ve heard about solutions that are working in communities and where our government needs to invest now to break the poverty cycle for the 181,400 children living in poverty across the State,” said Ms McLeod Howe.
The plan advocates for investment in an Early Childhood Education Fund, childhood obesity prevention, and child-centred, trauma-informed services to help children and young people who have experienced domestic and family violence.
The other report recommendations are linked to the need to build and support safe, resilient families and communities so children can grow and thrive.
“Over 45% of respondents in our Cost of Living survey said the NSW Government's highest priority should be policy efforts for affordable essential services.
“We have long advocated for people to receive a rebate that is proportionate to their energy bill rather than a flat rate, as we believe this would be fairer, and would provide an equal proportion of assistance to all. We’ve heard about families going without food and skipping medical treatment in order to pay their growing energy bills.
“We are calling on the Government to invest an additional $39 million in 2018/19 to reform energy rebates, establishing a single, expanded Low Income Household Energy Rebate of 17.5% of eligible households’ electricity bills,” explains Ms McLeod Howe.
Housing affordability is also putting a great deal of pressure on vulnerable NSW residents.
“Everyone has the right to a safe and secure place to live, yet NSW has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country. We need to do better than this.
“We are calling on the Government to commit to create homes that meet the needs of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. This needs to focus on our most vulnerable – our young people experiencing homelessness and housing that meets the needs of older women.
“These are all actionable, measurable steps that the NSW Government can take now to tackle persistent rates of child poverty and improve the lives of people doing it tough across our State. We look forward to working with the Government on implementing these asks,” concluded Ms McLeod Howe.
Media Contact: Stephanie Baker, 0416 622 606
You can access NCOSS’ full Pre-Budget Submission 2018/19 here: https://www.ncoss.org.au/ncoss-pre-budget-submission-2018/19
NCOSS Pre-Budget Submission 2018/19 Recommendations