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The NSW social services sector, which employs more than 230,000 people, and provides care to more than 1 million people per year, has reached a crossroads according to an alarming new report.

The report from Equity Economics, commissioned by NCOSS and other NSW peak bodies with sponsorship from HESTA, identifies the job creation potential of the sector, with another 62,000 employees needed by 2030 to cater to increased demand.

It highlights that an investment of one billion dollars will yield a return of $10 billion in additional jobs and through the increased participation in the labour market of people currently providing informal care.

While the report “The Social Sector in NSW: Capitalising on the potential for growth” underlines the opportunities arising from investing in the sector, it points to rising demand and unmet need as disturbing trends impacting the workforce, service quality and outcomes, and future capability if left unaddressed.

According to the report, in 2019/20:

  • More people needing crisis accommodation from homelessness services did not receive it (21,790) compared to those who did (17,157).
  • There were more than 94,000 mental health related emergency department presentations in NSW, a 76 per cent increase from 2004-05 to 2017-18.
  • Some 32,660 people in NSW were waiting for approved home care packages in January 2021.
  • 51,000 people are on the public housing waiting list in NSW, including 5,308 in priority groups.
  • Only 40 per cent of domestic violence is currently reported in NSW.

Concerningly, workforce shortages are already emerging, with vacancies in key occupations including care and welfare workers increasing by over 260 per cent in regional NSW over the past five years.

Additionally, low wages, insecure work and lack of career paths for the largely female workforce, combined with a stressful work environment, are impacting wellbeing and the ability to attract and retain staff.

In this report we define the NSW Social Sector as covering the provision of aged care, early childhood education and care, community mental health services, disability care, child protection, housing and homelessness services, community mental health, and domestic violence.

Read the Full Report Here: The Social Sector in NSW: Capitalising on the potential for growth

Read the Summary here: The Social Sector in NSW_Summary of Key Findings & Recommendations