Community Industry Group facilitates consultation sessions with community services to gain their views on relevant policy changes at a State and Federal level. The Group provides policy submissions that represent the needs of community services in the South East NSW region. For upcoming consultations please click here.
Inquiry Report - Adequacy of Newstart and related payments
On 25 July 2019, the Senate referred an inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart and related payments and alternative mechanisms to determine the level of income support payments in Australia to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report.
The committee tabled its report of the inquiry in the Senate on 30 April 2020. The report is available here.
Community Industry Group worked with members and other stakeholders to research and write a submission, and we are pleased to note that many of our assertions and recommendations have been included in the report.
The Report includes 27 Recommendations, most of which are for further areas of Inquiry or review. Recommendation 2 perhaps sums up the findings best:
The committee recommends the Australian Government immediately undertake a review of the income support system to ensure that all eligible income support recipients do not live in poverty.
Submission to Inquiry - General issues around the implementation and performance of the NDIS
In our role as secretariat for the Illawarra Disability Alliance, Community Industry Group recently made a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme for the Inquiry into General issues around the implementation and performance of the NDIS.
The inquiry is seeking to identify broad systemic issues relating to the implementation and operation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Submissions will inform the Committees’ annual report to Parliament on recurrent issues that have arisen, and inform recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Scheme.
The submission is available on the Standing Committee website here.
Submission - Adequacy of Newstart and related payments and alternative mechanisms to determine the level of income support payments in Australia
Submission – Adequacy of Newstart and related payments and alternative mechanisms to determine the level of income support payments in Australia.
Community Industry Group recently wrote a submission on the inadequacy of Newstart payments. The current level of payments are unfair and are driving people to rely on charities and community services. There are dire health and wellbeing implications when people are unable to afford housing, energy and food. When people live in poverty, they concentrate on day to day living instead of seeking training, education or volunteer opportunities.
The submission has now been accepted and published. Click here for more information.
Submission - NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the provision of disability services in NSW
NSW Legislative Council Inquiry Portfolio Committee No.2 – Health and Community Services announced an inquiry into the provision of disability services across New South Wales following the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. You can find details of the Inquiry here.
Community Industry Group held a discussion group, which was well attended by representatives from key disability service providers across the region, and prepared a submission to the Inquiry. What we heard from our members is that, while all providers were committed to the principles of the NDIS in providing choice and control for people with disability, the transition to NDIS has not been without its problems for both providers and participants. Read our submission here.
Submission - Health Aged Care Financing Authority Respite Care Consultation
Community Industry Group recently prepared a submission to the Australian Government Dept Health Aged Care Financing Authority Respite Care Consultation. We consulted with a range of aged care service providers, allied health professionals and informal carers in the Illawarra and Eurobodalla to inform this submission on the increasing use of residential respite care and the appropriateness of the current arrangements.
Carers play an important role in supporting people to remain at home. The important contribution carers make to our community, and to the lives of those they care for must be recognised. Without carers, our aged care system would struggle to meet the needs of our older people.
Our recommendations included:
- Providing additional resources to ensure a range of respite options are available to clients and carers across the region including the funding of two 15+ bed facilities dedicated to respite to provide complex and palliative respite care in the SE NSW region. This would prevent people having to travel vast distances to access respite care, and increase that take-up of respite as carers would not have the added worry of their loved one being many hours away;
- Increasing the number of beds available in residential aged care services for respite care across the region and introducing financial incentives for residential aged care facilities to keep a places available for respite only;
- Improving take-up of respite and reduce carer burden by providing clear and up to date information about respite care for clients and their carers. Information must clarify the definition of respite care and explain clearly how to access respite, and forms must be made simpler to make access to services easier for both client and carer;
- Providing dedicated ‘My Aged Care System Navigators’ at Centrelink offices to support people to better understand and access the aged care system, including people from CALD and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds;
- Providing up to date information to aged care professionals about respite care programs, including timely information about changes to respite, and updates on financial changes impacting service provision;
- Establishing clear and equitable financial contribution guidelines for respite care across the aged care system;
- Ensuring that the Integrated Carer Support Service includes a range of respite options for the carer; and
- Ensure carers are able to have much needed breaks from their caring role by providing adequate and affordable care services for the client, where and when they need it.
NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on State Development
Community Industry Group appeared in late March to give evidence at the Inquiry into Regional Development and a Global Sydney. This is the second time CI Group has been invited to address the Committee for this Inquiry, and we took the opportunity to reinforce that, while growth in the NSW capital city is important, it cannot be at the expense of regional NSW.
At a previous appearance, we spoke about the impact on housing costs, particularly for people on low incomes, as people migrate south from Sydney. We again took the opportunity to focus on the need for more affordable housing options across the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, and south east NSW. We also stressed the need for improved public transport, including more versatile and innovative solutions for people living in remote or isolated areas. We spoke about the need for education opportunities which are accessible for people in regional areas, and about the need to increase employment in the regions.
While the Committee is considering growth opportunities, road and rail connectivity, and the need for reliable telecommunications; as well as tackling key questions about borders and boundaries, and defining what regional actually is; it is pleasing to see they are also keen to consider the impacts on regional communities and people living on low incomes.
Find out more about the Inquiry here.
A Strong Future for Supported Employment
Community Industry Group recently submitted a response to the Discussion Paper released by Australian Department of Social Services on a Strong Future for Supported Employment.
CI Group believes supported employment plays an important role in supporting and improving the lives of people with a disability, and their carers; and that Australian Disability Enterprises, provide economic, social and training opportunities to persons with disability and to the wider community. It is therefore important that the role of supported employment is recognised and valued. While a move into open employment is often a goal for people with disability, supported employment will continue to be the preferred option for many. Thus the option for supported employment needs to be available into the future.
Read out submission here.
Electoral Reform Bill and Public Advocacy
The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is currently conducting an Inquiry into the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017.
While this Bill purports to prevent foreign influence on Australian elections, it may also have significant ramifications for charities and not for profit organisations which undertake advocacy activities. Advocacy by organisations has, over many years, made significant impacts on social justice issues and protecting the rights of vulnerable individuals and communities.
The impact of the Bill would be to place significant and constricting regulatory requirements on charities and not for profits who dedicate more than $13,500 a year on advocacy activities. These additional requirements would include statutory declarations or similar from allowable donors for all donations over $250, additional certification by financial controllers, more complex banking requirements, and full disclosure of political party memberships of all Board and senior staff members.
You can read ACOSS’ submission to the Inquiry here, and information from Justice Connect here, or here is a short video clip from Philanthropy Australia and The Human Rights Law Centre. Have your say on the Electoral Reform Bill here.
Protections for Residents of Long Term Supported Group Accommodation in NSW
Community Industry Group recently completed a submission to the NSW Government Inquiry into Protections for Residents of Long Term Supported Group Accommodation. We are grateful to the support workers, the parents of people with a disability who currently reside in group homes, and Illawarra Legal Centre who all contributed to this submission. Our premise is that it is imperative that people with disability have access to safe and dignified accommodation.
Read about this consultation here.
Transport Disability Incentives and Subsidies Review
The Illawarra Forum is pleased to have provided Transport for NSW with a submission regarding the recent Transport Disability Incentives and Subsidies Review 2017. Our submission reinforced our view that transport across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions remains a significant issue that is characterised by availability, affordability and geographical variety.
Transport, specifically for people with a disability and for persons requiring wheelchair accessible travel, is often further restricted by physical access, reduced service availability, reliability and affordability. Whilst the Illawarra Forum supports recent amendments to Point-to-Point travel, and welcome increased choice and availability of differing modes of transport for people with disability, we urge Transport for NSW to provide continued leadership and commitment to safeguards, nationally accredited driver training and a transparent complaints process that ensures consumers of accessible travel are safe and protected.
For further information on the submission, please contact call our office on 02 4256 4333.
Submission - Redesign of Dementia Consumer Supports
The Illawarra Forum recently sent a submission to the Federal Department of Health (DoH) on their discussion paper for the redesign of dementia consumer supports. Consultations with service providers, carers and people living with dementia were held across the region in order to form our response. The paper outlined how DoH was proposing to support people with dementia with a focus on improving dementia literacy within the community and medical professionals, improving service accessibility, and supports to encourage reablement and independence for people newly diagnosed.
Illawarra Forum strongly argued that the allocated $12m per annum was insufficient, and that investment in people to provide face to face supports, not just phone lines, websites and social marketing campaigns, was imperative to make a real impact. In addition we argued that regional and rural areas and marginalised groups required significantly more support than metropolitan areas as supports and medical specialists are scarce; and that specific resources should be allocated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities in order engage effectively. Thank you to all those who contributed to our response.
Shoalhaven City Council- Draft Shoalhaven Affordable Housing Strategy
Illawarra Forum submitted a response to the draft Shoalhaven Affordable Housing Strategy. The response focussed on the need to look at permanent housing solutions for the region as opposed to temporary accommodation. Illawarra Forum also supported the floor space ratio and parking concessions suggested, as well as zoning appropriate land. We encouraged Shoalhaven City Council to expedite some of these proposals.
Targeted Earlier Intervention Reform- Draft Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Framework
The Illawarra Forum put in a submission to the NSW Department of Family and Community Services on the draft Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (PMEF) for the Targeted Earlier Intervention Reform (TEI). Our submission outlined concerns of the type and amount of output data being asked for, which we believe goes against the outcomes rhetoric of the reform. We also challenged the proposed definition of medium and long-term in the paper (6 and 12 months respectively) as being too short to measure the impact of early intervention strategies.
As part of our submission we also highlighted the practicalities of the participant surveys being proposed, as well as the survey methodology which would not provide useful data linking interventions to outcomes.
NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on Investment, Industry and Regional Development Inquiry into Support for Start-Ups in Regional New South Wales.
The Illawarra Forum prepared a brief submission to the NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on Investment, Industry and Regional Development Inquiry into Support for Start-Ups in Regional New South Wales.
Our submission highlighted the importance of the community services industry to the region, and the opportunities in the projected growth of the sector. We also pointed out that, because most service providers are not for profits, we are excluded from many funding opportunities which support start-ups or business growth. There are also opportunities for other sectors to partner and collaborate with us, and leverage from our projected growth in order to build their own businesses.
Australian Productivity Commission Transitioning Regional Economies Initial Report Overview & Initial Findings
Illawarra Forum provided a response to the Australian Productivity Commission Transitioning Regional Economies Initial Report Overview & Initial Findings.
We highlighted that the Illawarra economy has been transitioning into a service economy, with a heavy bias towards health and social services for some time.
Illawarra Forum also emphasised the importance of our industry as an employer, and as a key growth sector for the region. We commended the Commission particularly on Finding 5.1 which recognises that no single approach will facilitate adaptation and sustainable development in all regions.
Introducing Competition and Informed User Choice into Human Services: Reforms to Human Services Draft Report
The Australian Productivity Commission recently released its third paper on the ‘Introducing Competition and Informed User Choice into Human Services’ Reforms to Human Services. The Illawarra Forum has made submissions to the previous papers, most of which have not been included in this Draft Report.
The report once again strongly focuses on the introduction of competition and contestability into community services, including the greater involvement of for profit businesses. The key Commission has focussed these reforms on five key areas:
- Caring for people at the end of life,
- Social housing,
- Remote Indigenous communities,
- Public hospital and dental services, and
- Family and community services.
In our submission, the Illawarra Forum highlighted many concerns surrounding the increase in competition in the delivery of human services, particularly the tender process that can result in contracts being awarded to organisations who can afford expert tender-writers, rather than one that will deliver the best services.
The Forum was generally supportive of the draft recommendations for the end-of-life care but cautioned that any changes to palliative care must be accompanied by sufficient funding and appropriate policies to protect vulnerable people, and ensure consistency of quality across providers.
The Social Housing recommendations significantly failed to address the issue of shortage of supply of social housing and affordable private rental properties. There were no measures to address the underfunding of community services, as identified in the Productivity Commission’s own 2010 report.
Tax Deductible Gift Recipient Reform Opportunities Discussion Paper
Suggested changes to the Gift Recipient Reform were the topic of a submission from Illawarra Forum to Treasury. The Discussion Paper included items relating to obligations of charities and associated reporting, changes to the administration of Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Registers and the review process of DGR charities.
The Illawarra Forum supports the proposal to transfer the administration of the four Deductible Gift Recipients Registers to the Australian Taxation Office, as any initiative to remove red tape will result in reduced costs related to regulatory compliance.
Similarly, the Forum was supportive of the introduction of a rolling review of DGRs however cautioned that reviews should not be onerous or expensive for organisations. The Forum also suggested that compulsory additional reporting was unnecessary for advocacy activities when a simple addition to the Annual Information Statement would suffice to ensure compliance.
NDIS Price Review Submission
Illawarra Forum formulated a response to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) on the NDIS Price Review. Illawarra Forum put forward strong feedback from local Disability Service providers that challenged many of the assumptions that determined price; as well as feedback on the benchmark plus upper limit model of pricing that is being proposed which appeared to state that either quality or quantity of supports would be possible, not both, directly challenging the choice and control of participants in the scheme.
Single Aged Care Quality Framework
A submission regarding Single Aged Care Quality Framework, based on the input from aged care organisations in the region was submitted by Illawarra Forum.
The new framework aims to have a single set of standards that apply to all aged care services, complemented by new assessment processes, and information for consumers to support them to make choices.
The proposed new standards have several positive elements including the; focus on consumer dignity, autonomy and choice; the role of carers and other decision makers, and the shift to outcomes.
However we also outlined some concerns over the implementation timeframe for the new standards of 1 July 2018, and that the standards needed to ensure they reflected overall aged care reforms, as well as the recommendations of other current inquiries e.g. the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Report “Future of Australia’s Aged Care Sector Workforce”.