ACOSS Newsletter

ACOSS@Work | July 2012

Dear member,

ACOSS has been busy over the past month! The Senate has announced an Inquiry into the adequacy of income support payments such as Newstart and Youth Allowance. We encourage everyone to make a submission to the Inquiry – more details are available here – and, if you haven’t already done so, to sign up to our campaign $35 a day is not enough!

That’s not the only Inquiry, though. After strong lobbying by ACOSS and our members, an Inquiry into the proposed Commonwealth cuts to single parenting payments has been announced. The Social Security Legislation Amendment (Fair Incentives to Work) Bill 2012 has been referred to the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committees. Submissions should be received by 23 July 2012. The reporting date is 22 August 2012. More details about the Inquiry are available here.

In the past week the Bill to establish a national regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, has also been referred to the House of Representatives Economics Committee. Submissions are due 20 July. More details on this and how to participate in the ACOSS submission are below.

It’s survey season! ACOSS is currently running two surveys – the Climate Change and the Community Sector surveyand the ACOSS Contracting survey. If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to fill these surveys out and to pass them on to your networks. In the meantime the first draft of the 2012 ACSS is on its way. We plan to release the report at the end of July.

In forthcoming events, we want you to save the date for the ACOSS Policy Forum and Annual General Meeting, 16 November, Sydney. A great line-up of guest speakers will join ACOSS members to canvas the key issues underpinning social policy, the effectiveness of community services and where ACOSS should focus its efforts in the year to come.

We are already making plans for our next national conference in Adelaide, March 2013. We’d love to hear your suggestions on speakers and topics as we develop the Program, so please send any comments to conference@acoss.org.au.

With best wishes,
Tessa Boyd-Caine,
Acting CEO

Recent meetings

June and July have been busy for meetings and appearances. ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie and Senior Policy Officer Peter Davidson attended the Government’s Economic Forum in Brisbane in mid-June. Deputy CEO Tessa Boyd-Caine attended the Treasury Stakeholder Consultation meeting; and the speech by the Hon. Kevin Andrews outlining the priorities a Coalition Government would bring to the not-for-profit sector. Peter also attended the Government’s superannuation roundtable; DEEWR’s Employment Partnerships Committee meeting; and staff met with Opposition Shadow Employment Participation spokesperson the Hon. Sussan Ley to discuss employment services and allowances for unemployed people.

Equal pay

On 22 June, Fair Work Australia made its Order in the equal remuneration case, finding in favour of the applicants (ASU and other unions) and giving effect to its earlier decision that the work of the community sector is undervalued and underpaid. The ASU's proposed Order was accepted with minor variations, including changes to the amounts entailed but not the principle findings of pay disparity in our sector. The Order also ensured that there will be no delays to implementation in particular states (as had been feared).

ACOSS is working with Jobs Australia, NDS and the ASU to deliver information to the sector about the industrial implications of the equal pay case, in a program that has been funded by the Commonwealth Government. Seminars and written materials are being prepared for every state and territory and will be delivered over the coming months. Contact your local COSS for details of this program.

In the meantime the sector continues to await detailed information from governments about the amounts and mechanisms for supplementation funding. Information about Commonwealth Government funding is available at its dedicated website, http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/social-and-community-services-sector-equal-remuneration-update-27-june-2012

World's first survey on climate change and the community sector NOW OPEN - your input is vital

The community welfare sector’s client base – people experiencing poverty and disadvantage – is the most vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather impacts of any group in Australia. As climate change worsens the impacts of extreme weather events, more people will turn to our sector for all types of assistance – in times of crisis and beyond. Yet, we lack a comprehensive understanding of whether the sector itself is well prepared to cope with these impacts.

To fill this information gap, we need you to complete this one-off survey!

You can complete the survey online at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/acossclimate2012

PDF and Word Versions of the survey are also available on the ACOSS website at http://www.acoss.org.au/policy/climate_energy/climate_change_and_the_community_welfare_sector_risks_and_adaptations/

Your participation will help us understand the sector’s vulnerability to extreme weather events like the Queensland floods of 2010 and the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009, which could affect any organisation at any time.

For more information contact Emily Hamilton on 02 93106204 or Emily.hamilton@acoss.org.au.

ACOSS Contracting Survey 2012

The adequacy of funding and financial viability are central to the effectiveness of community services. Yet many community organisations are uncertain about their funding situation, even at the point when they are supposed to be delivering funded services. ACOSS has been calling for appropriate policies underpinning government contracting of community services, to improve their effectiveness and viability. As part of this work, we want to hear from community services in Australia about the status of their contracts for services now that the new financial year has begun.

This survey takes 5 minutes only and is open for one week from Wednesday 4 July to Wednesday 11 July.

>> Click here to take the survey immediately.

>> Click here for more information.

AICD survey on Director Social Impact

If you’re not suffering survey fatigue, we encourage you to participate in the online survey of the Australian Institute of Company Directors on the contribution that directors make to Australian Society. The Director Social Impact Study is the largest and only study within Australia that is aiming to gain a greater understanding of the ways in which directors contribute, and how their role and contribution differs between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. Click here to complete the survey now.

Australian Charities and NFP Commission

On Friday 6 July, the legislation for the ACNC was referred to the House of Representatives Economics Committee. This effectively provides an exposure draft of the legislation for public comment. ACOSS will be preparing a submission to the Committee process and we welcome your views and suggestions. Please email Tessa.Boyd-Caine@acoss.org.au.

We invite all members to a seminar to update community services and not-for-profit organisations on the status of the reforms to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and what they mean for you and your organisation. This seminar will provide an opportunity for community organisations to hear the latest news on:

  • the establishment of Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission;
  • the objectives of a modernised definition of charity; and
  • next steps towards these reforms and how you can stay involved.

The seminars will be held in Melbourne on 24 July from 9 – 12.30 and repeated in Sydney on 10 August from 9.30 - 1. Places are limited so we advise early registration. To RSVP, please email Nicola.p.carter@nab.com.au by Friday 13th July 2012 for the Melbourne seminar, and by Monday 30th July 2012 for the Sydney seminar.

>> More information

ACOSS gratefully acknowledges the support of NAB in this seminar program.

‘Why has dental health been getting the brush off?’ 15 August, Canberra

A national forum presented by ACOSS, the National Rural Health Alliance, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, Public Health Association of Australia and Australian Health Care Reform Alliance.

This national dental forum will assess where the Federal Government is up to in addressing dental health and consider the steps and strategies necessary to achieve a national dental scheme in Australia. It will be held on Wednesday 14 August in Canberra. More details and registration are available via the National Rural Health Alliance.

Government establishes new Mental Health Consumer Reference Group

In recent years ACOSS’ support has been sought in the establishment of a national mental health consumer group, including during the Mental Health Forum run in conjunction with ACOSS National Conference 2011. The Federal Government has now established a Consumer Reference Group to set up the new National Mental Health Consumer Organisation, including a number of consumer advocates with a history of ACOSS involvement. ACOSS congratulates all who have been appointed and we wish the Group well in its deliberations.

More information can be found at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/mr-yr12-mb-mb058.htm

Finding on release of confidential Centrelink information

In August last year ACOSS and Welfare Rights Network wrote to then Human Services Minister Tanya Plibersek complaining about the release of confidential Centrelink information in a story on fraud by payment recipients on ‘A Current Affair’ (Channel 9). Welfare Rights Network subsequently referred the matter to the Australian Communications and Media Authority for having breached the industry Code of Practice by identifying a child, and ACMA has now found in favour of the WRN complaint. For more details, see ACA breaches Code for identifying child.

New grants to enable better access to ICT for people experiencing poverty and inequality

The Telstra Foundation has launched the ‘Everyone Connected’ Grants program, designed to assist disadvantaged Australians enjoy the benefits of modern communication technology. One hundred $10,000 grants are available to non-profit community organisations to support local activities that help enhance digital inclusion by connecting disadvantaged children and young people to the internet, build their online skills or promote cyber safety. Applications close on Monday 30 July 2012, with successful applicants to be announced in September 2012. Apply directly at www.telstrafoundation.com.

NHMRC nomination a success

ACOSS is delighted that our nomination to the Prevention and Community Health Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Centre, Tony McBride, has been successful. Tony is the Convenor of the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance, of which ACOSS is a member; and was a member of the National Advisory Council on Dental Health.

National Disability Awards

The National Disability Awards, coordinated by FaHCSIA on behalf of the Government, honour and recognise the achievements of individuals and organisations that have improved the lives of people with disability. Finalists will be announced in September – October 2012. To make a nomination, visit: www.idpwd.com.au/awards and complete the online nomination form. Alternatively, call 1800 440 385 to request copies of the nomination guidelines and form. Nominations close at 5pm AEST on Friday 20 July 2012.

>> See ACOSS Media Releases

>> Read ACOSS Submissions & Papers

>> Access previous editions of this newsletter