Housing Australia’s people: a serious plan

ACOSS and National Shelter today released a joint 6 point National Housing Affordability Plan. They have urged the Federal Government not to shirk its lead responsibility to address the housing affordability crisis affecting millions across the country and increasing financial risk to the national economy.

‘The Federal Government must grasp the housing affordability crisis with both hands and put in place the right policies for the future.” said Dr Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO.

Recent speculation of a Government retreat, and various proposals that lack broad support – including widely criticised ideas such as using super to fund housing deposits – suggest some within the Government view this task as beyond them. It is not. There is broad expert consensus about what needs to done.”

Read full release here

Centrelink Inquiry

Visit our Centrelink ‘RoboDebt’ Inquiry webpage at: http://www.acoss.org.au/centrelink-inquiry/

COSS Network reiterates its call for Robodebt to end following damning report from Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman has released a damning report into the Federal Government’s automated Centrelink debt recovery program, known as the ‘robodebt’ program, calling for its evaluation before it is expanded. CEO of ACOSS, Dr Cassandra Goldie, with the COSS Network, again called on the government to halt the robodebt program.

“The Government must stop the robodebt program, which, as the Commonwealth Ombudsman has shown in its report on the program released today, has made people vulnerable because of the stress and anxiety it has caused. The report makes clear that this program was poorly designed, communication was “deficient”, and that there are a host of problems with shifting the onus of proof onto people affected”, said Dr Goldie.

Read full release here

Treasurer clears path towards a national housing affordability policy: will it be the right one?

ACOSS today welcomed the breaking of a long silence on national housing affordability policy, and the Treasurer’s commitment to making affordability for people with low incomes and homeless people a priority. It’s vital that the Govenrment now chooses the right path to housing reform.

We agree absolutely that improving affordability for renters on low incomes is key. The Federal Government has four vital roles to play to make housing more affordable: removing tax distortions that have contributed to excessive growth in housing costs; re-invigorating growth in social, affordable housing for people on the lowest incomes; sparking growth in affordable housing for middle income earners; and improving the incomes of people relying on the lowest social security payments (especially the Newstart Allowance and Rent Assistance) so that they can afford not only decent housing, but a decent life for themselves and their families.

Read full release here

ACOSS condemns company tax cuts

ACOSS condemns the company tax deal that will rip $5.2b over the forward estimates from the Federal Budget. This tax cut follows the $4 billion hit to the budget just last year when the Government gave away personal income tax cuts to higher income earners.

It is egregious for the government to pass another unfunded tax cut at the same time it has already cut well over $10b from social security and still wants to cut at least $7b more, including removing the energy supplement for millions of people on the lowest incomes.

Read full release here

Omnibus Mark 2 is unfair: ACOSS statement

ACOSS is appalled the Turnbull government rammed through social security cuts late last night that will have the biggest impact on people on low incomes, including families.

Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS, says our children and their parents will be sorely affected by the government’s Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill, a watered-down version of the previous Omnibus Bill that still attacks Australia’s hardest hit families.

“The Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill is unfair and should not have been passed. Overnight the lives of people in over 1.5 million households have been altered for the worse. These cuts are specifically aimed at hitting people on low-incomes.”

Read full statement here

RoboDebt must go: Community sector calls for end of Centrelink’s auto debt recovery program and the bullying of victims

A consortium of leading organisations from Australia’s community sector is calling on the government to immediately pull the plug on Centrelink’s RoboDebt, cease the intimidation and bullying of Centrelink clients and their families caught up in the automated debt recovery debacle, and provide a commitment that people’s protected information will not be publicly released.

Spokesperson for the group Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS, says the Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge must respond to people’s very real concerns about privacy, particularly with the opening of the Senate inquiry into Centrelink and the flawed RoboDebt scheme.

Read full media release and view list of organisations 

Read ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie’s opening statement to the Centrelink Inquiry

We can reduce poverty, inequality and the budget deficit: ACOSS Budget Submission 2017

ACOSS has called on the Turnbull Government to throw out harsh proposals that have repeatedly failed to pass Parliament and adopt budget policies that are fair and sustainable.

“After two years of chasing the ill-conceived 2014 Budget cuts, it’s time the Government recast its Budget strategy and moved on from the one-sided focus on spending cuts, particularly in social security,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

Read more here

ACOSS urges Parliament to reject latest attempt to cut incomes of poorest in new Omnibus Bill

ACOSS today urged the Federal Parliament to stand firm against measures in the new Government Omnibus Bill that will cut the incomes of some of the poorest people, including families, to fund child care reforms.

“This is the latest attempt by the Government to push through harsh cuts that will rip $7 billion from the social security budget.

It includes previously rejected ‘zombie’ measures, such as the five-week wait for unemployment payments, further cuts to family payments, and abolition of the energy supplement, which will slash the incomes of two million future recipients of income support,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

Read more here

Statement on Centrelink Auto-Debt Recovery Program: Govt must abandon program to prevent further harm

19 January 2017:  In a statement today, ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “This error-riddled Auto-Debt Recovery Program must be stopped without further delay. The tweaks announced by the Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge do not address the fundamental problems and serious concerns expressed by us and a broad range of stakeholders.

“ACOSS met with Minister Tudge yesterday and again urged him to immediately halt Centrelink’s automated debt recovery program, which is operating as an aggressive abuse of government power, causing extensive stress, anxiety and harm amongst thousands of people caught up in the process. We also repeated our call for the Minister to convene a roundtable of key stakeholders and experts as soon as possible to design a humane and fair approach to debt recovery.

Read more here

Pension changes

From 1 January 2017, the asset test for the pensions has been tightened, meaning that some part-pensioners with assets of more than $291,000 (single homeowner) or $453,500 (couple homeowner) will lose some of their part pension. Non-homeowners with assets above $539,500 (single) and $702,000 (couple) will lose some of their part pension.

The pension will no longer be paid to people with single people with assets of $542,500 (homeowner) and $742,500 (non-homeowner) and couples with assets of $816,000 (homeowner) and $1,016,000 (non-homeowner).

Read more here

Centrelink debt fiasco must end immediately

11 January 2017: ACOSS today called on the Australian Government to immediately suspend the automated Centrelink debt recovery program that is treating current and past Centrelink recipients like second-class citizens. ACOSS also called for the program to be independently reviewed.

Acting ACOSS CEO Peter Davidson said: “Centrelink has demonstrably failed in its duty of care to ensure accurate information is provided to recipients of income support and this failure is causing undue stress, anxiety and harm to some of our most vulnerable people.”

Read the media release here

Child poverty on the rise

ACOSS today released a new report showing that 731,300 children or 17.4% of all children in Australia are living in poverty, an increase of 2 percentage points over the past 10 years (from 2004-2014).

The report finds that nearly three million people were living in poverty in Australia in 2014, or 13.3% of the general population.

“The overall picture from the last decade is one of persistent and entrenched poverty across the community with an increase in child poverty.  It is a national shame that after 25 years of economic growth, we have not done better at changing this trajectory and ensuring our most precious national resource, our children, are given the best possible start in life,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

Read the full media release | Read the report

Inequality in Australia: watch and share the video!