Reform super tax breaks to properly fund aged care, and fix inequities before increasing super guarantee – ACOSS Submission to the Retirement Income Review

Quality health and aged care services, affordable housing and an adequate income support system are vital to ensuring decent, secure retirements, says the Australian Council of Social Service’s submission to Treasury’s Retirement Incomes Review. It will not be possible for future governments to properly fund these essential services for an ageing population while the present, unaffordable tax breaks for superannuation investment income remain in place, without increasing already high out-of-pocket costs for these services.

The submission argues for the inequitable tax breaks for super contributions to be reformed before further increases to the superannuation guarantee are made. Read more

Government’s cashless-debit scheme with big banks is a shameless attempt to distract from need to Newstart increase

The Australian Council of Social Service has criticised the Government’s announcement today that it is working with the big four banks on a scheme to expand the cashless debit card nationwide, despite opposition to the card in the Senate.

“This is a shameless attempt to distract from the mounting, widespread support for Newstart to be raised after 26 years without a real increase,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.

“This Card is a nasty invasion of privacy. It’s unnecessary, expensive, stigmatising and impractical, making it harder for people to buy from op-shops, buy second-hand furniture, rent in shared accommodation or to provide children with money for school activities. Read more

Solutions are clear to major national challenges impacting people’s daily lives – ACOSS budget submission

The Federal Government has an urgent social, economic and environmental imperative to act in the Federal Budget to address major national challenges – stagnant incomes, a weak economy, service failures and climate change – says the Australian Council of Social Service’s submission to the Government on the Federal Budget, released today. Read more

Statement on Government’s proposed change to Centrelink income reporting

In response to reports today of the government’s plan to have Centrelink use payroll data to pre-fill earnings, as in online tax returns, ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said: “As Centrelink reporting periods often do not match workplace pay cycles, people are left having to estimate or predict their earnings. We welcome measures to improve accuracy of reporting income to reduce instances of people having to payback overpayments. However, it’s important that that the system is accurate, and that people can easily make corrections where pre-filled data is incorrect. Also, Centrelink must be properly staffed to help people correct their records.

Read more

ACOSS welcomes emergency funding for community sector organisation in bushfire response

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes the $50 million in funding announced by the Government today for community sector organisations supporting people impacted by the bushfires. As reported today, the funding includes $40 million for The Salvation Army and The St Vincent De Paul Society to go to emergency funds for people impacted by the fires. It also includes $10 million for financial counselling.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“We welcome this additional funding for services to help people who’ve lost so much through the bushfire crisis.

Read more

Bushfire crisis – ACOSS calls for Government action on recovery, preparation and prevention

The Australian Council of Social Service has written to the Prime Minister with clear recommendations for immediate actions in response to the bushfire tragedy, with a focus on supporting people on low incomes through the crisis.

Read more

A plan for action – Responding to the National Bushfire Crisis

We welcome the creation of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency and the National Bushfire Recovery Fund, along with a range of measures the Federal Government has taken to support people affected by these bushfires. It is vital that the Federal Government continues to play its role providing adequate support to the thousands of people so badly affected. Read more

ACOSS Statement on the Bushfire Crisis

We share the grave sense of sorrow felt so deeply across the community for the tragic loss of life, homes, livelihoods and nature inflicted by these terrifying, unprecedented megafires, fuelled by climate change. Amid the devastation and sadness, we are so grateful to our courageous firefighters and our members in the community sector working tirelessly to provide urgent support and relief on the ground, including staff, volunteers and donors. Read more

Getting Help or Helping during the 2019/2020 Bushfires Emergency

If you or any of the people in your communities are affected by the bushfires, there are disaster recovery payments available, which you can access by contacting 1802266. Read more

Preparing for Disasters – A Message from Dr. Cassandra Goldie

As many of us prepare to spend time with our friends and family this holiday season, some of us will be affected by disasters, especially during this unprecedented bushfire crisis. Others are working out how we can contribute. Either way, I hope the information below is helpful. Read more

The ACOSS
office will be closed from midday, 24 December 2019 and will re-open at 9am on
Monday, 6 January 2020.

For urgent
Media enquiries contact the ACOSS media mobile 0419 626 155

Thank you for your support in 2019. Our best wishes are always with you.

Survey shows charities do not have enough resources to keep up with demand

A survey of more than 1400 staff working in community services, including homelessness, financial counselling and mental health services, has found only 5 per cent believed their service was completely able to meet demand.
The findings, released today, are part of the 2019 Australian Community Sector Survey, conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW Sydney in collaboration with Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the Council of Social Service Network, and supported by Community Sector Banking. Read more.

Short-sighted MYEFO misses opportunities to reduce hardship while supporting jobs

The MYEFO contains some extremely modest new funding announcements for people going through tough times but misses the big opportunities to reduce hardship, support jobs and lower unemployment. The tax cuts have failed to achieve this and more of the same will only threaten funding for essential services. Read more

PM called on to protect equal pay funding for feminised caring sector

The Councils of Social Service (COSS) Network, representing the community sector across Australia, is calling on the Morrison Government to prevent impending cuts to community services, which would negatively impact the national gender pay gap. The COSS Network has written to the Prime Minister urging him to secure ongoing funding for affected services. Read more

Political inaction on climate change is hurting our most vulnerable, worsening poverty and inequality

In the midst of unprecedented bushfires and international climate talks in Madrid, the Councils of Social Service are calling for urgent government action on climate change to support those hardest hit by its impacts – people on low incomes or experiencing disadvantage. In a joint statement released today, the Councils of Social Service argue the climate crisis is not only a threat to our environment, it is a threat to people’s lives and livelihoods, and to ending poverty and inequality. Read more

 

Dangerous and outrageous – Councils of Social Service condemn proposed funding cut to national voice for First Nations women on domestic violence

The Councils of Social Service across the country have joined together to urge the Morrison Government to reinstate funding to the National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum (NFVPLS) the national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims and survivors of domestic violence.

The National Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services Forum is vital to eradicating our country’s shameful rates of domestic violence. Read more

 

ACOSS / NCOSS end-of-year drinks are on Today 6 December!

Please do come along if at all possible, and please invite your sector colleagues to join as well!

From: 5pm to 7pm.

Location: Bells Hotel Woolloomooloo, Sydney.

No need to RSVP.

Please just bring yourself and any sector colleagues who would like to join!

 

Statement on the repeal of Medevac

The Australian Council of Social Service joins many others in condemning the Australian Government’s repeal of life-saving Medevac laws. ACOSS acknowledges the courage and determination of all of the individuals and organisations who work tirelessly to secure justice for people seeking asylum and refugees, living in intolerable conditions in offshore detention. ACOSS also assures people detained offshore that the Australian community will not rest until a safe and permanent home and future has been secured for everyone who remains on Manus and Nauru. Read more

 

Australian climate roundtable renews joint policy principles

As Australia and our international peers gather at the UN Climate Conference in Madrid, it is clear that the world is not yet on track to stay within the temperature limits set out in the Paris Agreement. Getting there will require more ambition and action around the world, including in Australia. Our organisations, representing broad sections of the community and meeting as the Australian Climate Roundtable, today announced the next steps in our work to help Australia play our fair part in these efforts while maintaining and increasing our prosperity. Read more

 

Government must stop cutting income support for people doing it tough

ACOSS calls on the Australian Government to stop cutting income support payments to people who are doing it tough. “Yesterday, the Government introduced legislation into the Senate that would cut income support payments including Newstart, Sickness Allowance and pensions to the tune of almost $300m over four years”, said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie. Read more

 

Survey Of 892 young people on Youth Allowance and Newstart reveals shocking rates of deprivation

The National Union of Students, YOUNG Campaigns, and the Australian Council of Social Service have today launched a joint report exposing the alarming rates of deprivation among young people currently receiving Youth Allowance and Newstart. Read more

 

Removal of flawed averaging from Robodebt welcome but devil will be in the detail

The Australian Council of Social Service is relieved to hear that the Government is finally halting one of the most harmful parts of its error-ridden Robodebt scheme. However, the devil will be in the detail, which remains to be seen. ACOSS has a longstanding position for Robodebt to be abolished. Read more

 

Under-funded services are symptoms of an unsustainable tax system – ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie

Before the election, the Prime Minister told us he would roll out $300 billion in income tax cuts, guarantee funding for essential services, and get the budget into surplus. As we said at the time, the notion that all three could be delivered was never going to be able to come true. And now the royal commissions into aged care and disability abuse are showing just how shocking the reality is for our community when essential services are starved of the funds we need. Read more

 

NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals Leader urges Morrison Government to reconsider Newstart position

The Deputy Premier of NSW, John Barilaro, has urged his federal colleagues to reconsider their position on Newstart at the launch of an NCOSS event today that addressed economic disadvantage across the state, including in the regions.

The Australian Council of Social Service warmly welcomes Minister Barilaro’s comments, which follow support for a Newstart increase from the Qld, WA, NT and ACT governments.

“Minister Barilaro is right to call on his federal Coalition colleagues to reconsider their position on Newstart,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said. Read More

 

ACOSS/Cohealth joint infographic on health inequality

Everyone should have equal access to health care in Australia. But there is a huge difference in health outcomes depending on income. This is especially true for particular groups in the community, such as people living in precarious housing, or those dealing with the impacts of family violence. View it now

 

The single most effective step to reduce poverty this Anti-Poverty Week

As Parliament returns today on the Monday of Anti-Poverty Week, the Australian Council of Social Service is calling on the Government to take the single most effective step to reduce the persistent rates of poverty in our wealthy country by increasing Newstart.
Read more

 

Retirement Incomes Review Panel lacks credibility on low-income issues and must be expanded

The Australian Council of Social Service is calling on the Treasurer to expand the Retirement Incomes Review panel to ensure that expertise about the needs of people on lower incomes is reflected.

“While ACOSS welcomes the review, the panel does not include expertise from community organisations representing and working with people on lower incomes. This is a serious gap that goes to the credibility of the process,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said. Read more

 

Minister must retract offensive Newstart comments, apologise and take urgent action

Offensive comments made by the Minister of Social Services show she is out-of-touch with the harsh realities of  trying to get by on Newstart and the strong community support for an urgent, real increase after 25 years. 

The Australian Council of Social Service is calling on the Minister to retract the comments and apologise to the hundreds of thousands of people trapped in poverty on Newstart.  Read more

 

How to reduce homelessness and boost incomes and jobs:
Social housing as infrastructure

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes the call by the Productivity Commission for an increase to Rent Assistance, in its report released today on rental stress, which highlights the lack of public housing available.
The report – ‘Vulnerable Private Renters: Evidence and Options’ – finds the number of low-income households in rental stress has doubled in the past two decades. The report also finds that more 600,000 households are in rental stress (spending more than 30% of income on rent). Read More

 

Parliament must stand firm against expensive, ineffective, demeaning policies designed to distract from urgent need to increase Newstart

The Australian Council of Social Service is calling on the Parliament to resolutely block the Government’s demeaning, expensive drug-testing plan, and any attempt by the Government to expand the impractical cashless debit card. It was reported yesterday that the Prime Minister planned to take his time before considering plans for an expansion of the cashless debit card. The latest evaluation has not been completed, communities have not been consulted with beyond the trial sites and legislation for an expansion has not been drafted. Read more

 

Government’s drug testing policy demeaning and flawed

The Australian Council of Social Service condemns the Government’s decision to bring back legislation that would see drug testing of people receiving Newstart or Youth Allowance in three trial sites around the country. As reported today, the trial sites would be in Logan, Canterbury Bankstown and Mandurah and the testing would apply to new recipients. Read more

GDP figures confirm economic case for urgent increase to Newstart and investment in social housing

The GDP figures released today further the strong case for increasing Newstart and investing in social housing in order to stimulate the economy, while acting on poverty and homelessness. “The Government can effectively work to boost the flagging economy by acting on poverty and homelessness,” ACOSS Director of Policy Jacqueline Phillips said. Read more

Labor’s opposition to inhumane robodebt more evidence the error-ridden program needs to go

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes the Opposition joining much of the Crossbench and the Greens in calling for the error-ridden, inhumane robodebt program to be abolished. ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said robodebt needed to be replaced with a humane system of debt recovery. Read more

“More food for my kids”; “replace worn-through clothing”; “keep a car running to get to a job” – ACOSS survey shows what a Newstart increase would really mean

The ACOSS says the results of its survey of Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients must serve as an urgent, moral wake up call for the Government. Read more

Unnecessary, demeaning cashless debit card unfairly targets people just because they can’t find paid work

Following reports that Nationals are considering an expansion of the cashless debit card as part of a Newstart increase, the Australian Council of Social Service is reiterating its strong position against the cashless debit card. Read more

ACOSS welcomes Australian Medical Association’s support for an increase to Newstart

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes the Australian Medical Association’s support for an increase to Newstart, the payment for people looking for paid work. At the National Press Club, Australian Medical Association President Tony Bartone said: “People on that allowance are experiencing significant stress and issues and that must have health impacts on their wellbeing.” Read more

Report that Government removed recommendation for Newstart increase alarming

The Australian Council of Social Service is alarmed by a report today that the Government intervened in a Parliamentary Inquiry to remove a recommendation to increase Newstart. ACOSS Acting CEO Jacqueline Phillips said: “It’s outrageous that a Government Minister would step in and change a Parliamentary Inquiry’s recommendations, which should be based purely on evidence presented to the Inquiry. Read more

Government Senator Dean Smith becomes latest to support Newstart increase in today’s Senate debate

Government Senator Dean Smith has expressed support for an increase to Newstart in the Senate today, becoming the latest member of the Government to add to the growing support for an increase to Newstart in the Parliament, the business sector and the community. Read more

Barnaby Joyce joins growing Parliamentary support for Newstart increase and highlights living costs in the bush and city

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes growing support in the Government and across the Parliament for an increase to Newstart, including from Barnaby Joyce, whose call for an increase has been reported on today. Read more

Joint LGBTIQ+ community statement in support of religious discrimination protections

We, the undersigned LGBTIQ+ advocates, organisations and allies, place on the public record our support for protections from discrimination for people of all faiths, and for people who don’t hold religious beliefs, provided these laws do not sanction new forms of discrimination against others. Read more

People on Newstart share stories with MPs as part of Raise the Rate Week of Action

People on Newstart and Youth Allowance will be meeting with their MPs during a national Week of Action this week as part of the Raise the Rate campaign, sharing their stories and calling on their MPs to immediately raise the rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance. Read more

Statement on constitutional recognition of Australia’s first peoples

Formally acknowledging and reconciling the wrongs perpetrated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—and their long legacy of ongoing trauma—must be a national priority. It’s crucial the Federal Government works genuinely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations to get the process and the wording right. Read more

Grattan Institute report shows high-end tax cuts unfair, risky and expensive

With a Grattan Institute report out today showing the Government’s proposed high-end (Stage 3) tax cuts would make our tax system less progressive than at any time since the 1950s, ACOSS is calling on Parliamentarians to stand up for a fair and sustainable tax system. Read more

 

ACOSS welcomes Labor’s opposition to locking in unaffordable tax cuts 5 years in advance

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes Labor’s sensible opposition to the Stage 3 tax cuts, which risk future cuts to essential services. Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “The Opposition is taking a responsible position in opposing stage 3 of the tax cuts which would cost $12 billion dollars every year from 2024, on top of $18 billion already legislated.” Read more

Stage 3 tax cuts would guarantee funding cuts

People earning $200,000 a year are among the top 5% of income earners, says the Australian Council of Social Service in a strong warning against stage 3 of the tax cuts, which threaten service funding into the future. Read more

Split the 2019 tax bill!

Parliament should split the forthcoming tax bill and invest in payments and services to grow jobs

We need to strengthen growth in jobs, incomes and economic opportunities. The government has prioritised its tax cut package, which it insists the Parliament passes in full. Even though the first stage of these cuts would provide a timely economic boost, the subsequent stages are scheduled for 2022 and 2024 – when nobody knows what the economy and budget will look like. Those later ‘stages’ should not be legislated now. There are better ways to strengthen growth and bring longer-term social and economic benefits, such as Raising the Rate of Newstart and related payments; and investing in social housing and renewable energy infrastructure.
Find out more and take action

ACOSS welcomes Morrison Government Ministry congratulating Minister Wyatt on historic appointment

The Australian Council of Social Service congratulates members of the new Morrison Government Ministry, especially Minister Ken Wyatt, the first Aboriginal Commonwealth Cabinet Minister and Minister for Indigenous Australians, as National Reconciliation Week begins. Read more

ACOSS Statement on Election of Coalition Government

ACOSS congratulates the Coalition on being re-elected and will work with the Morrison Government to support people in need and to tackle the challenges we face as a country. ACOSS will continue to advocate for an increase to Newstart, which is widely supported across the country as an important moral issue and by the business community as good monetary policy. Read more

ACOSS tribute to Bob Hawke

ACOSS today pays tribute to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke as a great Australian leader, whose transformative agenda made Australia a fairer, kinder, more equal and inclusive country. Read more

Community groups condemn mock rent increase notices and negative gearing scare tactics

Housing, homelessness and community peaks today condemned the use of mock rent increase notices as election material, which target people already living in rental stress. Read more

Housing affordability crisis needs a comprehensive solution, not just a lick of paint

The Government’s first home buyers’ announcement, which was matched by the Opposition, is not the answer to our housing affordability crisis. ACOSS warns that the Government’s budget forecasts, combined with its unprecedented tax cuts, put funding for housing and other services at risk. Read more

Opposition’s costings show closing high-end tax shelters will help restore services

The Labor Opposition’s election costings released today show its plans to close high-end tax concessions and shelters will raise $13 billion a year by 2022, allowing a Labor Government to invest an extra $11 billion in services, such as dental, child care and cancer treatment, and in public infrastructure. Read more

CWA backs calls to Raise the Rate of Newstart

The Country Women’s Association of Australia today expresses its support for the Raise the Rate campaign to increase Newstart and help people living in rural and regional Australia struggling to find paid work make ends meet. Read more

Election 2019: Big Tax Cuts mean Big Change, how will our Future be funded?

Following the Treasurer’s National Press Club Debate today, ACOSS is releasing new analysis of the Federal Budget and warning that there is a trade-off between large tax cuts – especially the $300 billion in tax cuts proposed by the Coalition – and sustaining the essential health, education and community services. Read more

Bipartisan commitment to housing funding needed to secure future of remote communities

The leaders of Councils of Social Service (COSS) around the country have welcomed the ALP announcement of a ten year, $1.5 billion investment in housing in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and pledge to develop a new COAG partnership on remote housing and called on the Liberal Party to provide a similar commitment. Read more

 

2019 Election Policy Tracker

Read our 2019 ACOSS election policy tracker. This compares the election policies of the major parties based on ACOSS’ priorities for the 2019 Federal Election

Commitments on childcare and dental are essential services the community needs, and wants 

ACOSS is delighted to welcome Labor’s childcare announcements over the weekend, and says Labor’s dental care announcement is a excellent first step to extending Medicare to essential dental services for people on the Age Pension and Senior Concession Card holders, but calls for inclusion of people on Allowances and other Pensions as well. Read more

Polling shows widespread concerns about tax cuts and support for increase to Newstart

Nearly three quarters of Australians agree that Newstart should be increased to cover basic living costs and help people search for jobs, shows new polling commissioned by the Australian Council of Social Service. The polling also shows that the majority of the community has concerns about the tax cuts announced in the budget. Read more

 

ACOSS launches tax policy to underpin strong future for services and income support

Monday April 15: The Australian Council of Social Service today launched its tax reform election policy, calling for serious tax reform, starting with an end to tax loopholes for the wealthy in order to fund investment in our essential services and income support system. Read more

 

Election 2019: Healthy, inclusive, thriving communities need quality, secure community services

Friday 12 April: The Australian Council of Social Service is today launching its Federal Election 2019 Policy Platform: Community Services, calling on all parties to properly resource community services, and build a policy framework that ensures those services are high quality. Read more

Federal Election 2019: What is the contest the country needs?

In response to the announcement of the Federal Election for May 18, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has called on both major parties to focus on improving the wellbeing of the community, particularly people who are struggling on lower incomes, so that everyone in Australia can live a fulfilling life.  Read more

ACOSS welcomes Labor’s commitment to funding services over high-end tax cuts but people on Newstart again left behind

ACOSS welcomes the Opposition’s commitment tonight to give priority to funding essential services over big tax cuts for people on higher incomes but remains deeply concerned about people on Newstart again being left behind. Read more

 

Budget 2019: Government turns its back on people who have the least, and guarantees more cuts to essential services

‘’The Government confirms its vision for our country is cuts, tax cuts for people who don’t need them, guaranteeing more cuts in future to essential services and our safety net for people who rely on them,’’ ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said tonight in response to the 2019 Budget…The overall package gives the most dollars to people who already have the most, and offers people on the lowest incomes nothing. Read more

 

Analysis – Bringing forward the government’s tax cuts in budget would worsen inequality

New analysis by ACOSS shows that if speculation about income tax cuts rings true in the budget the biggest winners will be those on high incomes, while there will be little or no benefit for households with the lowest 40% of incomes. In fact, one third of households have incomes too low to pay income tax.*
Read more

Morrison Government excludes people on lowest incomes from one-off energy payment

The Morrison Government’s pre-budget announcement a one-off Energy Assistance Payment — $75 for singles and $125 for couples — excludes people on the lowest incomes, those who are looking for paid work on Newstart. “The Morrison Government is ignoring the people who are doing it the hardest,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said. Read more

Who’s afraid of advocacy? 

Jonathon Hunyor and Cassandra Goldie 

Advocacy by independent groups in civil society is vital to a healthy democracy and makes for better government decisions and outcomes. Civil society plays a vital role in ensuring a more diverse range of voices are heard and the interests of those who may otherwise be excluded or marginalised are represented. Read more

Open letter from the Community Sector

Don’t rush to pass more tax cuts while three million live in poverty 
As community organisations providing essential services to people on low and modest incomes, we call on the Parliament not to rush to pass more income tax cuts before the elections, and to reverse those already legislated to go to high income-earners after 2020. Read more

Townsville City Council endorses increase to Newstart and ACOSS calls on federal politicians to follow suit

Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) congratulates Townsville Council for officially endorsing the ‘Raise the Rate’ campaign, a national campaign, which calls on the Federal Government and Opposition to raise the rate of Newstart. Read more

ACOSS responds to Labor’s living wage policy, calling for it to be partnered with an increase to Newstart

The federal Opposition’s living wage policy, announced today, is a sensible step, which must be partnered with an increase to Newstart in order to effectively reduce poverty and boost the economy. Read more

ACOSS welcomes commitment to overdue reform of Employment Services (jobactive) but warns against over-reliance on automation and digital platforms

The Australian Council of Social Service welcomes the Government’s commitment today to overdue reforms to employment services (Jobactive), but warns there are also risks in what is being proposed.

Read more

Universal dental care more important, less expensive, than tax cuts

The Australian Council of Social Service is firmly opposed to more tax cuts in the upcoming budget, instead calling on government to invest in strengthening our income support system and delivering quality services, including dental care. Read more

Raise the Rate

Australia’s social safety net should allow people to afford to put a roof over their head and food on the table. The current rate of Newstart and related allowances does not cover the cost of basic essentials. It’s time to Raise the Rate.
Read more

BACKLASH: Women in the Media – Roundtable

Date: Friday, 6 March
Time: 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM AEDT
Venue: University of Technology Sydney, Business School Auditorium, Level 2, 14-28 Ultimo Road, Ultimo, NSW 2007
Price: FREE

Join us as we come together with a panel of women on the coalface of Australian media and community engagement to discuss tactics to push through misogyny in the media, and support each other when facing backlash. Register here.