The NSW Council of Social Service has identified the top seven actions the NSW State Government could take to make the biggest difference in the lives of people experiencing poverty following a state-wide consultation with health and community service organisations.
NCOSS CEO Tracy Howe said the seven recommendations featured in the NCOSS Pre Budget submission to be launched today.
“With almost 900 000 people currently experiencing poverty in NSW, there is no time to waste in taking action.
“We talked to people around the state to develop these recommendations and they reflect the priorities identified in those talks. These are the things that will make the biggest difference for people experiencing poverty and disadvantage.”
Ms Howe said that a lack of access to housing was identified as key problem right across NSW.
“Without access to housing people find it almost impossible to get and keep a job, to send their kids to school or to address any other ongoing issues in their lives. It’s a key foundation for addressing disadvantage.
“The high incidence of domestic and family violence was also focus issue. We’ve just seen data from the ABS showing that in New South Wales 43.9% of assaults were family and domestic violence assaults. That’s 28,780 in 2014. This is an issue that hasn’t seen an adequate level of attention for years. It’s time to change that.
Ms Howe said the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme would not mean there was no more work for the NSW Government to do to ensure people with disability do not experience disadvantage.
“The NSW government’s inclusion and participation agenda for people with disability is excellent but it will need additional funding to ensure all NSW Government services such as health, education and transport work for people with disability.
Ms Howe said the other key areas that needed attention were improved access to mental health services and transport, a focus on employment initiatives and a plan to ensure children experiencing poverty don’t have their life outcomes defined by their circumstances.
“NSW currently ranks number one in the nation's economic rankings yet too many people in NSW are experiencing poverty and disadvantage. It doesn’t have to be that way.
“As a society we can choose to take action to ensure everyone benefits from the prosperity NSW is experiencing. These seven recommendations are the start of what that action should be.”
The seven recommendations are:
Housing and Homelessness: Invest an extra $711 million and make smart policy choices that deliver a significant increase in the social and affordable housing stock in NSW, reduce homelessness, and properly maintain existing social housing stock.
Domestic and Family Violence: Invest $106 million over the next three years in specialist, trauma-informed and trauma specialist responses to sexual assault and domestic and family violence including specialist community legal assistance.
People with disability: Invest $15 million over three years in a Disability Inclusion Fund to ensure the representatives of people with disability can work with the NSW Government to make all NSW Government services (like health, education and transport) work for people with disability, deliver on the government’s inclusion and participation agenda, and amplify the voice of people with disability in the cultural, social and economic life of our state.
Children, Youth and Families: Invest $543.2 million in key initiatives to ensure the life outcomes of NSW children aren’t determined by their socio-economic status and the poverty they experience in childhood.
Employment: Invest $83 million each year for three years in a comprehensive Local Jobs Partnerships program that resources local councils and community organisations to work with the most disadvantaged jobseekers to get them into work.
Mental Health: Invest an additional $469 million over four years into community based mental health services that offer a range of sub-acute, clinical and non-clinical services across NSW.
Transport: Improve access to public transport services by investing an extra $42.7 million to expand investment in new infrastructure and services; make existing infrastructure and stock more accessible for people with disability; lower fares for people on low incomes and who are unemployed; and support Community Transport services.