Issuu on Google+

TasCOSS News August 2013

TasCOS S Tasmanian Council of Social Service

Newsletter

August 2013

DisabilityCare Australia

Opportunities and challenges for service providers, p 6 Federal election issues, p 4

State policy push for healthy spaces, p 9

Equity side of retail electricity reform, p 12

Strengthening the sector’s workforce, p 14

1


TasCOSS News August 2013

Contents

Meet our intern, Lauren Gard

3

Third-year journalism student Lauren Gard completed a onemonth internship at TasCOSS during July and August, learning about communications work in the community sector.

From the CEO

4 Political parties need to show some heart

Lauren said she was interested in working in the community services sector in some capacity.

5 Portable long service scheme for sector on horizon

She is also a volunteer dog walker and has done admin work for the Hobart Dogs’ Home. Thank you, Lauren, for your hard work and enthusiasm during your time at TasCOSS.

“I value fairness and want to see the best in the community and do something to help. When you see disadvantage, you feel for people,” she says.

6 DisabilityCare a gamechanger

9

Lauren has combined her jour-

Healthy spaces and places

Introduction to Governance workshops

12 Concessions in power reform process

TasCOSS, in partnership with Leadership and Change Consultants, will present an Introduction to Governance series of one-day workshops in coming months.

14 Action on Tasmanian workforce development

The September workshop will be on Legal Matters and Risk Management, running in Hobart on 16 September, Burnie 24 September and Launceston 25 September.

16 State Budget outcomes could have been worse

17

The October workshop will be Everything Financial, running in Hobart on 15 October, Burnie 22 October and Launceston on 23 October.

Housing costs obstacle to employment

18 Welcome to our new members

The November workshop will be Strategy and Planning, running in Hobart on 19 November, Burnie

Advertising and insert rates 2013 Members

All TasCOSS organisational members and full individual members are invited to express their interest in becoming involved in one of the new TasCOSS Regional Councils.

Non Members

Full

$70

$110

Half

$40

$70

Quarter $25

$40

Inserts (exc GST) Members

Non Members

$85

$130

Editor: Gabrielle Rish gabrielle@tascoss.org.au Phone: (03) 6231 0755

27 November and Launceston 28 November. The cost to attend a workshop is $65 for TasCOSS members and $95 for non-members. The first of the workshops was an introduction to Roles & Responsibilities of community sector board members, held in Hobart on 20 August, Burnie 27 August and Launceston on 28 August. For more information about the Introduction to Governance workshop series, see www. tascoss.org.au or contact Dale Rahmanovic on 6231 0755 or dale@tascoss.org.au

Members for TasCOSS regional councils sought

Advertising (exc GST)

2

nalism major at UTAS with a minor in sociology.

The three Regional Councils, in the northwest, north and south of the state, are being set up as part of the new TasCOSS consultation framework. TasCOSS will look to the councils to assist in identifying priorities, to provide input on regional opportunities and challenges, and to offer partnership in campaigns, advocacy and projects. The councils will provide members

with a regular, direct and proactive way of shaping the strategic direction of the work TasCOSS undertakes. Each of the Regional Councils will be convened by a TasCOSS Board member and made up of organisational and individual TasCOSS members. Information about the Regional Councils and what is involved in being a Council member can be found on the TasCOSS website, www.tascoss.org.au, including an Expression of Interest form. The expression of interest period closes 30 September 2013.


From the CEO

TasCOSS is changing the way it consults with members, the community sector as a whole and the wider community

As a vital element of our 2012-

2015 strategic plan, at TasCOSS we are reviewing all aspects of our communications. The depth and breadth of our methods of consultation have been at the heart of that review. TasCOSS is committed to grounding its services, policy, research and advocacy in the experiences of individuals, communities and community sector organisations throughout Tasmania. By doing so, we aim to ensure that the work we do is evidence-informed, responsive to our stakeholders and has legitimacy. We recently reviewed the way we consult with our stakeholders to better achieve this aim. Our stakeholders include low-income, disadvantaged and vulnerable Tasmanians, TasCOSS members, community service organisations, funding bodies, policy and decisionmakers, and other Tasmanian peak bodies. A new TasCOSS consultation framework has been created as a result of the review. The consultation framework aims to create a range of mechanisms to maximise TasCOSS’s ability to remain in touch with current issues and challenges affecting low-income, disadvantaged and vulnerable Tasmanians. We want to be consistently clear on the sector’s experiences, needs, views and priorities. We also want to have a statewide understanding of and engagement with our members. We want to respond to government and media agendas.

We want to demonstrate to funders and policy-makers how we are representing our sector and addressing needs. We want to be aware of new opportunities and developments within our sector. A key feature of the new consultation framework will be three regional consultation hubs, in the northwest, north and south of the state. Each of these hubs will include both a regional council comprised of TasCOSS members and regular regional open forums to connect more broadly with the community sector and general community. Each of the Regional Councils will be convened by a TasCOSS Board member and made up of organisational and individual TasCOSS members. The three Regional Councils will be a central element of our new approach to consultation. TasCOSS will look to the councils to assist in identifying priorities, to provide input on regional opportunities and challenges, and to offer partnership in campaigns, advocacy and projects. The Regional Councils will provide TasCOSS members with a regular, direct and proactive way of shaping the strategic direction of the work we undertake. The TasCOSS Board and staff are excited by the opportunity to improve the way we connect with and engage our members and stakeholders. We look forward to implementing the new consultation framework, a first

The TasCOSS Board in Burnie earlier this year. Board members will convene the new regional councils.

step of which will be establishing the three Regional Councils. I would like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to all TasCOSS organisational members and full individual members to express their interest in becoming involved in a TasCOSS Regional Council. Information about the Regional Councils and what is involved in being a Council member can be found on the TasCOSS website, www.tascoss.org.au, including an Expression of Interest form. The expression of interest period closes 30 September 2013.

We want to be consistently clear on the sector’s experiences, needs, views and priorities.

Tony Reidy TasCOSS Chief Executive

3


Political parties need to show some heart The community sector is putting poverty and social infrastructure at the centre of the federal election campaign

Information courtesy of ACOSS

Peak bodies, headed by the

Australian Council of Social Service, are ensuring that the Australian community sector’s voice is heard in the 2013 Federal Election campaign. Alongside asylum-seeker policy, the main focus of the election is likely to be fiscal housekeeping (spending cuts/ tax increases) to provide ‘responsible government’. In the 2013-14 Federal Budget, the Labor Government pledged major new social infrastructure investments in schools funding and for DisabilityCare Australia but not much more. A Coalition government would have a tougher fiscal task ahead of it, given the Coalition’s proposed abolition of carbon pricing and the mining tax. The Coalition has promised a tax reform white paper. It has also committed to a commission of audit and will clearly cut spending substantially (unless there is a recession next year). “Whoever wins government must be prepared to secure a sustainable revenue base to make room in the budget for essential services and increases in income support for the poorest. A measured and considered approach to tax reform and improving productivity are both essential,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.

4

The four key issues ACOSS and its network are campaigning on are the reduction of poverty; the strengthening of social infrastructure; federal government budgeting to

meet community needs; and the strengthening of civil society.

and leading welfare agencies have made the following recommendations:

1. Reduction of poverty

• Make permanent the National Rental Affordability Scheme, which provides incentives for investment in affordable housing, and immediately provide for 50,000 new incentives.

ACOSS has led a campaign calling on the major political parties to legislate an increase in low-income support payments, such as Newstart Allowance, in order to stem the national rise in poverty. Raising the single rate of allowance payments by $50 a week ($100 a fortnight) would help lift almost one million people in Australia out of the most desperate of situations. There is also a need to reverse the policy that moves sole parents off Parenting Payment to the much lower Newstart Allowance once their youngest child turns eight. Nearly 60 per cent of sole parents are already undertaking some form of paid employment, along with the work of raising children on their own. There is no need to give them more ‘incentive’ to work by impoverishing their families. Greater investment in employment assistance for those most disadvantaged in the labour market is also essential, particularly for longterm unemployed people.

2. Strengthening social infrastructure

Housing affordability is an issue creating poverty and homelessness across Australia. Community welfare organisations are dismayed that serious future responses to the affordable housing crisis seem to be missing from the policies of both major parties. National housing peak bodies

• Commit to an Affordable Housing Growth Fund. • Lift the level of Commonwealth Rent Assistance and review its effectiveness. • Make a serious commitment to address homelessness and, as part of this, increase funding for homelessness services to match unmet need. • Sign a new National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.

3. Budgeting to meet community needs

There is an opportunity to wind back wasteful spending and tax breaks that accumulated during Australia’s economic boom. ACOSS has identified around $6 billion in federal budget savings, achieved by clamping down on tax avoidance, poorly targeted spending programs and tax breaks. These include the scrapping of the health insurance rebate for ancillary or ‘extras' cover, the Seniors and Pensioners Tax Offset, non-superannuation termination payments and the use of private ‘discretionary' trusts and capital gains. The ACOSS expenditure saving and revenue proposals are in line with key Henry Tax


Review recommendations and would make Australia’s tax and social security system fairer, more efficient and more sustainable as our ageing population increases the demands on government to provide essential services.

4. Strengthening civil society

The Australian community sector employs around a million people and is an important part of the national economy. The community sector needs and deserves to be part of the public debate and discussions of policy. Kevin Rudd, shortly after regaining the prime ministership, convened a discussion with the business sector. Whoever wins government at the election needs to make a similar commitment to a conversation with the community sector – not just on the social agenda but on economic and productivity issues. Structures such as the Council

of Australian Governments (COAG) need to adopt a more collaborative approach to structural change and the federal government needs to be more open with information.

TasCOSS CEO Tony Reidy at a rally calling for an increase in Newstart and restoration of sole parenting payment to parents of school-age children.

Portable long service scheme on horizon Work is in progress to develop a portable long service leave scheme for the Tasmanian community services sector. Community service workers have a tendency to move between jobs and employers comparatively frequently, while still staying within the sector. Portable long service leave is, thus, highly desirable to ensure people get the benefit of the years they dedicate to community service work. In May this year Workplace Relations Minister David O’Byrne launched a discussion paper on the introduction of a portable long service leave for the sector, produced by the Health and Community Services Union (HACSU).

The discussion paper followed a consultation process initiated by the Justice Department’s Workplace Standards division to inform the State Government of the benefits of such a scheme. A working group will look at different models for the proposed scheme. The group will include representatives from Workplace Standards, HACSU, the Australian Services Union, community sector organisations and TasCOSS. Up for consideration are two potential models: the portable long service leave already set up for the Tasmanian building industry, TasBuild, and one for the community services sector operating in the ACT.

The working group intends to provide its recommendations to the Minister by the end of this year or early in 2014. For more information about the portable long service leave proposal or to provide input, contact Dale Rahmanovic on (03) 6231 0755 or dale@tascoss.org. au The discussion paper, A Portable Long Service Leave for the Tasmanian Community Services Sector, is available on the HACSU website. See www.hacsutas. asn.au/campaigns/

Dale Rahmanovic TasCOSS Sector Development Unit

5


DisabilityCare a game changer

The launch of DisabilityCare Australia has ushered in a new era for the community services sector, with both opportunities and challenges

DisabilityCare Australia – origiFront Cover: from left, Multicultural Council of Tasmania CEO Ashley Lieutier, DisabilityCare Australia’s director of engagement and funding Tasmania, Kelly Ford, launch manager Tasmania Sue Ham and NDS executive officer David Clements at the roundtable.

nally called the National Disability Insurance Scheme or NDIS, started operating in Tasmania on 1 July this year. In its first month of operation, the scheme had developed personal plans for more than 20 young Tasmanians with disability. And there were 100 more appointments scheduled between participants and the state’s 10 DisabilityCare planners, who are based in Launceston, Devonport and Hobart. The target is for around 800 personal plans to be developed by July next year. DisabilityCare allows participants to work out what they need as part of their package to ensure their fullest involvement in life. This might include everything from speech therapy to the ability to participate in a

sporting activity, moving from a group or family home into community housing, or the practical support needed to undertake a course. The quantum leap with DisabilityCare is that people with disability will lead the choice on what they need and where they get it from. With funding now attached to individuals, what they get won’t be restricted by how much money a particular service provider has left in its budget. While there’s not unlimited money in the scheme, eligible individuals can receive whatever they need that is reasonable and necessary. And there is a surety of funding over a person’s lifetime. This is the dawn of a new era – and not just for the participants.

It will change the nature of the relationship between clients and service providers, lead to a major increase in demand, and also shift the funding of service provision from bulk purchase to market-driven. The community sector is crucial to the success of DisabilityCare, and that’s not just the part of the sector providing specialist disability services. Given the wide range of services participants might want to access, all NFPs need to adapt to the new demand-driven environment. “DisabilityCare Australia needs the support from the broader not-for-profit sector to provide genuine choice and control and to build the capacity of people with disability to participate,” DisabilityCare Australia launch manager Tasmania Sue Ham said. Tasmania is one of six launch sites for DisabilityCare nationally. In this state the launch means participation will be limited to 15- to 24-year-olds for the first three years. Anyone entering the scheme during these three years will stay in it, even after they turn 25. The Tasmanian and the Commonwealth governments have agreed to roll out the full scheme to all eligible people with disability between 2016 and 2019, with more than 10,000 Tasmanians ultimately set to participate.

At the DisabilityCare NFP round table, from left, National Disability Services executive officer David Clements, Youth Network of Tasmania CEO Joanna Siejka, TasTAFE teacher Ben

6

Crothers, Relationships Australia’s Jules Carroll and Sharon Scarlett of Carers Tas.

“We expect that over the three years of the launch around 1000 eligible young people will enter the scheme,” Ms Ham told a Not-for-Profits round table on 29 July. The round table was convened by DisabilityCare Australia and


The discussion at the round table threw up a mix of challenges but the defining statement of the meeting was all about inspiration. Ben Crothers, who teaches a Transition to Work program for students with disabilities at TasTAFE, said: “It’s great to have the opportunity to be part of this launch.” National Disability Services Tasmania executive officer David Clements outlined some key issues for service providers related to the launch, including the financial and cultural implications. “Organisations will need to look very differently at the way they conduct their operations in terms of planning their financial management and risk, how they manage cash flow,” he said. “We [NDS] are drawing on a group of chartered accounts who are looking at components of operations that organisations need to understand and shift, in line with the financial arrangement changes occurring, from block funding to individualised funding.” NDS has been running workshops on this issue, funded through the State Government and DisabilityCare Australia’s Sector Development Fund. David Clements said service providers needed to grasp the changing dynamic that will occur between individual consumers and service providers. “Workers at all levels of service delivery need to understand that shift in philosophy and what that means on a day-today basis,” he said. NDS also sees a need for education of service providers in marketing their services.

DisabilityCare Australia provider information The DisabilityCare Australia website has list of supports, services and price list for services available for providers. • The price list for supports has been published on the website. • Prices have been based on existing market prices in each launch location so as not to disrupt existing markets. • A number of frequently used supports have a maximum price that is the highest price DisabilityCare Australia will pay for these supports. • Other supports such as Early Childhood Interventions and assistive technology have benchmark prices based on market research. In these cases the price list is an estimate for planning purposes and a different amount could be paid so long as it is reasonable and consistent with the benchmark price.

TasCOSS News August 2013

TasCOSS as part of a series of national conversations with the not-for-profit sector.

See http://www.disabilitycareaustralia.gov.au/providers will need to have a major boost in both staff and skills levels to meet increased demand for services. The TasCOSS Sector Development Unit is working with NFPs to ensure they will have the skills and support they need to adapt to consumer-driven service provision.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to be part of this launch.” – Ben Crothers, TasTAFE teacher Plans include offering training, development and support networks in key skills such as adaptive management, consumer engagement and social outcomes reporting. All these skills will be crucial for organisations needing to respond to the needs of clients with disabilities and to articulate the difference they can make in their lives. SDU is also convening a community sector workforce development round table, which brings together specialist peaks across the sector to consider on an ongoing basis what organisations need to adapt to this service delivery model.

DisabilityCare Australia’s director of engagement and funding Tasmania, Kelly Ford, said one untapped workforce resource was the great number of under-employed casual workers already in the sector. For example, teachers’ aides, who are left without income during school holidays, could be employed to support people in other activities. “DisabilityCare Australia also has a significant role in capacitybuilding and to address some of the gaps in community services,” Ms Ford said. “It’s a big challenge, those gaps, particularly in rural areas of Tasmania,” she said. “We can encourage existing organisations to consider how they could spread further and go to regions where they haven’t operated before.” Sue Ham said accommodation was one area in which there were obvious gaps. “We need to build momentum there sooner rather than later,” she said.

Registering as a service provider

To date, 67 service providers have registered with DisabilityCare in Tasmania. Among the cont: page 8

Capacity

NDS has been funded by Skills Tasmania to employ a workforce development project officer, as the Tasmanian specialist disability services sector

Gabrielle Rish TasCOSS Communications Officer

7


TasCOSS News August 2013

expected specialist disability service providers, are a small number of sole traders, including therapists but also a home maintentance operator, who mows lawns. Sharon Scarlett of Carers Tas, who attended the 29 July NFP round table, asked whether family carers could register to be DisabilityCare service providers. “If that was the only option, DisabilityCare Australia may consider it. But it would be difficult to decide what was the natural caring component of a parent or partner and what would be the paid part,” Ms Ford said. Organisations registered with DisabilityCare Australia will be able to advertise positions free of charge on the national Care Careers jobs website.

8

Role of Planners and Local Area Coordinators There are two tiers to development and implementation of DisabilityCare Australia individual plans: • Planners employed directly by DisabilityCare Australia, who work with participants and, if needed, their families, to develop a plan. • Local Area Coordinators (LACs), located in Tasmania within the existing disability gateway services provided by Mission Australia and Baptcare. Planners have a reference package outlining funding guidelines on what a person with a particular disability might receive. If a plan exceeds that reference, it would need to be approved at a higher level at the agency. The funding for an individual plan can be selfmanaged or can be managed by a Plan Management organisation, or a combination of both. LACs provide participants with information, referral, assistance and support, advocate on their behalf and play an important role in building service responsiveness and community capacity to support better participant outcomes. LACs maintain relationships with participants and monitor their plan implementation.


Healthy spaces and places

A high-level planning policy is being proposed to help remedy Tasmania’s poor state of health

T

asmania is not a healthy state. One in four Tasmanians have a long-term cardiovascular condition, with a third of all deaths in Tasmania due to cardiovascular disease. More than a third of the Tasmanian population is overweight and more than 20% of Tasmanians are obese. More than 30% of adult Tasmanians have high blood pressure— the highest level of all the Australian states. And diabetes and renal failure are on the rise in the state, with mortality rates from diabetes significantly higher than the Australian average1 2. The burden of ill health on Tasmania’s finances is huge: health spending makes up 27.6% of the 2013-14 State Budget, and that percentage is projected to continue to rise steeply in the future. Two key preventive health measures are exercise and a healthy diet – and Tasmanians do not do well in these areas either. More than two-thirds of the Tasmanian adult population are not physically active enough to confer a health benefit. And 94.4% of Tasmanians aged 15 and older don’t eat the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables3. Public health advocates increasingly are focusing on the built environment as a major determinant of the health and wellbeing of people and of communities. Healthy public spaces and infrastructure such as sports grounds,

parks, footways and cycling tracks give people the opportunity to be more physically active as part of their daily lives. Similarly, land use planning can make fresh, healthy food more easily available by providing access to land where people can grow their own food, as well as by preserving areas for food production close to population centres. Equitable access to healthy spaces and places is crucial to ensuring that all Tasmanians have the best possible chance at good health.

State Policy

In recognition of the importance of the built environment in determining health outcomes, and following advocacy by the Heart Foundation in Tasmania, the Premier’s Physical Activity Council (PPAC) has fixed its sights on the goal of embedding the health and wellbeing of all communities into Tasmania’s planning and construction activities. To do this, PPAC is proposing a ground-breaking strategy: the development of a State Policy for Healthy Spaces and Places. State Policies are a key but under-used and under-appreciated element of the Tasmanian Resource Management and Planning System, the overarching planning and environment framework that promotes the sustainable development of Tasmania’s resources. In essence, State Policies are

Healthy design should extend to all of Tasmania’s spaces and places, rather than being treated as a luxury Photo courtesy Heart Foundation

Tasmania would be the first state to enshrine healthy design at such a high level strategic statements representing the Tasmanian government’s high-level position on resource management and planning issues, applying equally to the activities of state and local government. They are statements of principle, rather than highly detailed op-

cont: page 10

1 Based on the 2007/08 ABS National Health Survey in KEY FACTS in Tasmania Key Cardiovascular Statistics 2012 Heart Foundation. 2 3

R Taylor (2008) State of Public Health Report Department of Health and Human Services Tasmania. ABS Australian Health Survey 2011-2012.

9


TasCOSS News August 2013

erational documents; they seek to ensure a consistent and coordinated approach to key resource management and planning issues throughout the state. They are more durable than a ‘small-p’ policy of the government of the day because they are required to go through a rigorous approvals process and can only be amended by a statutory process. To date, State Policies have focused on land-use planning and environmental management and protection. However, there is nothing in their charter that prevents their application to social policy-related issues.

Healthy planning

The impact of the built environment on health has already been acknowledged in a raft of Tasmanian state and local government strategies and plans, many of which lay out principles and goals for healthier design. In the absence of a uniformly applicable high-level policy di-

rective, however, planning for healthy spaces and places has been haphazard and highly dependent on the initiative of individual state agencies and local governments. A State Policy for Healthy Spaces and Places would demonstrate the Tasmanian Government’s understanding of the crucial link between the built environment and health outcomes and a commitment to creating a healthy built environment in the state. It would provide the policy framework for the provision, design and implementation of spaces and places that have the potential to increase physical activity and boost food security for all Tasmanians. It would have long-lasting outcomes, enhancing Tasmania’s built environment over the longer term. Such a policy would be directive, requiring state government agencies and local governments to think through health-re-

Key principles for a State Policy on healthy spaces Drafters are still considering the principles that would underlie a proposed State Policy for Healthy Spaces and Places. What do you think of these?

1 Use and development in cities and towns encourages and supports active living, active travel, access to healthy food and social inclusion.

2 The design of spaces and places that restrict the achievement of the objective must be avoided.

3 Spaces and places, including shopping areas, town and neighbourhood centres and open space are safe and easily accessible regardless of age, physical ability, culture or income, with a range of facilities and services that are available to all.

4 Streets are designed and constructed to provide for a high level of pedestrian and cyclist connectivity and permeability.

5 Streets and paths are attractive and safe to encourage walking and cycling.

6 Public open spaces are provided strategically to local communities, are safe to use, allow for active living as well as providing urban green space for their aesthetic, environmental and economic benefits.

7 Mixed density housing is encouraged to support neighbourhood destinations to meet daily needs and to support active travel.

8 Compatible mixed land uses are co-located to promote active travel

10

to and between different activities.

lated planning issues in relation to new projects or changes to planning schemes. It would be easy and cost-effective to comply with, changing the way in which spaces and places are designed and built in the first place, rather than imposing retrofitting requirements. The policy, importantly, would be equitable, ensuring that healthy design extends to all of Tasmania’s spaces and places, rather than being treated as a luxury. And the bottom line is that such a policy would be economical, with potential huge savings for the state’s health budget. Other states are already on this road. For example, the recently released draft exposure white paper on the NSW Planning Act lists health as one of the eight principal objectives of the Planning Bill. However, Tasmania would be the first state to enshrine healthy design at such a high level. The proposed State Policy for Healthy Spaces and Places has as its objective the building of healthy, active communities, based on equitable access to active living, active travel, healthy food and social inclusion. At the practical level, such a State Policy would set a broad health-oriented policy direction for planning-related activities by all state agencies and local governments. It would provide the high-level policy basis for development of Planning Directives translating the Policy’s principles into operational standards to be implemented by planning schemes. The State Policy would provide scope for the implementation through the Resource Management and Planning System of health and social inclusionrelated initiatives on the part of State and local governments, including the recommendations of advisory groups such as the Premier’s Local Government Council, the Premier’s Physical


TasCOSS News August 2012

Making it easier for people to exercise is essential for boosting Tasmanian health levels Photo courtesy Heart Foundation

Activity Council, and the Health and Wellbeing Advisory Council.

• Food for All Tasmanians: A Food Security Strategy 2012

It would provide the state-level policy framework for implementation of nationally agreed initiatives related to community health and wellbeing and the built environment.

• A Social Inclusion Strategy for Tasmania 2009

It would provide the context for the preparation and implementation of the foreshadowed Tasmanian Liveability Strategy. The State Policy on Healthy Spaces and Places would also provide the overarching framework to support strategies developed in companion areas, including: • Tasmanian Urban Passenger Transport Framework • Tasmanian Strategy

Infrastructure

Input sought

PPAC is in the process of preparing a draft State Policy, in consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders. Once the draft is complete, it will be submitted to the Premier, who is also the Minister responsible for the State Policies and Projects Act 1993. If the Premier determines that the draft State Policy is one that satisfies the criteria of the Act, she will refer the matter to the Tasmanian Planning Commission for formal assessment.

lic hearings. Once through the TPC assessment, the final Policy will be submitted to both Houses of Parliament for approval. As the leading advocate for the State Policy for Healthy Spaces and Places, the Heart Foundation is keen to engage with community service organisations. To discuss the proposed policy, get advice on making a submission to the TPC assessment or find out how you can assist the Heart Foundation in its advocacy for this State Policy, please contact Rob Nolan, Heart Foundation Senior Policy Advisor-Planning, on (03) 6220 2238 or email Rob. Nolan@heartfoundation.org.au

This assessment process involves public consultation by written submission and possibly by pub-

• Walking and Cycling for Active Transport Strategy • Adapting to Climate Change in Tasmania Issues Paper 2012

Wynne Russell TasCOSS Social Policy and Research Unit

11


Concessions in power reform process

Government checks and balances should ease the transition to full competition in Tasmania’s retail electricity market

M

oves continue toward the introduction of full retail competition for electricity customers in Tasmania. This change will affect all Tasmanian households and small businesses, including community sector organisations. We will see the beginnings of this process on 1 January 2014 when Aurora Energy will cease to exist as a retail business and all small electricity customers will be assigned to one of two new retailers. There are obviously major changes coming our way but it should be a smooth transition for individual customers, thanks to some government checks and balances. In March this year Premier Lara Giddings announced that current electricity concession arrangements would continue with the new retailers and that customers who received a concession did not need to take any action. Their eligibility for a concession would continue uninterrupted with their new retailers. In the May State Budget, eligibility for electricity concessions was extended to people seeking asylum who are living in Tasmania in community detention and to those on a Bridging Visa E. The Premier also announced that the Government would introduce a new rebate for those with medical conditions such as MS that require air conditioning to maintain a cool household temperature. The Medical Cooling Rebate will provide $135 per year to people who can demonstrate their need with a medical certificate. This rebate commenced on 1 July this year.

12

The Government will also provide a Life Support Discount for

people who rely on electricity to run approved life support systems or who live with someone who uses such a life support system. Aurora Energy currently offers this discount and the Government has announced plans to make this a government payment, to be delivered by all new retailers on behalf of the State Government, and to both increase the current amount provided and index the discount to future price rises. The Heating Allowance provided by the Department of Health and Human Services to Pensioner Concession Card holders whose assets are below a certain amount will continue under current arrangements. The Premier also announced that the Government would take over Aurora Energy’s current support for those in need by continuing to provide hardship funds to the Salvation Army for distribution to emergency relief providers throughout the state. These funds, although limited, provide vital assistance. In

2012-13, Aurora Energy supplied the emergency relief sector with $384,000 to allocate to people seeking assistance with their electricity bills. The continuation of this funding, which is indexed to electricity price rises, is very welcome. The Government will also take over Aurora Energy’s support for the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS), which assists low-income Tasmanians to buy essential items and services, including energy-efficient heaters and other appliances.

Electricity pricing

The Tasmanian Economic Regulator is responsible for setting regulated prices for residential standard tariff and small business customers. This will continue under full retail competition, although customers may choose to take up the offer of a ‘market contract’ from a new retailer instead of a price-regulated ‘standing offer’ contract (also referred to as a standard retail contract). Until the Tasmanian Government decides to remove price regulation, a ‘standing offer’ contract


month will be able to switch to another retailer.

It is likely that electricity prices will be relatively stable in Tasmania in coming years as the wholesale price will be subject to regulation, and the electricity network businesses appear to be able to meet their asset maintenance and renewal needs within current revenue allowances.

After that, for a further six months, all retailers, including any new retail entrants to the Tasmanian market will be able to make offers to Tasmanian customers; however, the limits on the number of customer transfers will remain.

New retailers

In June this year, the Tasmanian Government called for expressions of interest from electricity retailers to buy Aurora’s existing customers. It is the Government’s intention to divide the Tasmanian residential and small business customer bases into two bundles and to sell each to two new retailers. The division of customers is likely to be by local government area, so that all those who live or run businesses in the Hobart municipality, for instance, will be sold to the same retailer. Customers will automatically be put on a ‘standing offer’ contract with their new retailer. All customer information will be transferred to the new retailer, as will the financial relationship that each customer had with Aurora Energy, that is, all credits, debts, payment plans, and other payment arrangements (like direct debits from bank accounts or credit cards). Customers will be informed of the name and contact details of the retailer they have been assigned to and will eventually receive a quarterly bill from their new retailer. It is intended that for the first three months, until 1 April 2014, Tasmanian customers will only be able to accept ‘market contract’ offers from the retailer assigned to them. Some additional choices will then be available between 1 April 2014 and 30 June 2014, when customers will be able to switch to the other assigned retailer. During this time, only a limited number of customers each

After a full year, it is expected that restrictions on switching will be lifted entirely and more small retailers may appear in the Tasmanian electricity market to make offers to customers. Customers may choose to do nothing. If they choose to do nothing, they will remain on a ‘standing offer’ contract with a regulated price with the retailer first assigned to them. Others may look for market contracts that suit their needs. TasCOSS expects that there will be active marketing activities, but notes that several of the larger electricity retailers in mainland states have stopped using door-to-door selling as a marketing technique. This is welcome as some energy marketing activities on the mainland have been aggressive and, in some cases, unlawful. We therefore hope that doorto-door marketing of electricity contracts is kept to a minimum in Tasmania.

Customer protection

Tasmanian residential and small business customers will continue to be protected under the National Energy Customer Framework, which was adopted in Tasmania in July 2012. The NECF details requirements relating to payment options; contract terms and conditions; disconnection limitations; hardship programs; billing information, metering and meter reading;

The TasCOSS Shared Services project is looking at electricity contracts for community service organisations and may be able to help secure better prices and conditions for sector organisations under full retail competition. Contact gus@tascoss.org.au for further information.

TasCOSS News August 2013

will always be available to Tasmanian electricity customers.

complaint procedures and other electricity supply activities and arrangements. Under the NECF, retailers are required to have an approved Hardship Policy and Program in place to assist customers experiencing payment difficulties. Approved Hardship Policies must include access to negotiated payment plans and referral to external assistance from financial counselling services and emergency relief providers. The Australian Energy Regulator has responsibility to monitor authorised retailers’ compliance with the NECF, to enforce compliance if need be, and to regularly report on the performance of individual retailers. The AER is also responsible for publishing an energy affordability report each year, the first of which will be released later this year. A TasCOSS representative is a member of the AER’s Customer Consultative Group and is able to raise issues of concern to Tasmanian small consumers directly with the AER. Customers will continue to have access to the Tasmanian Energy Ombudsman if their complaints are not satisfactorily resolved by their new retailer.

Kath McLean TasCOSS Social Policy and Research Manager

13


Action on workforce development

The Tasmanian community sector Workforce Roundtable has set priorities for the state’s community services workforce of the future

T

he Tasmanian Community Services Workforce Development Plan 2012-2015 was launched in March 2013. Now TasCOSS, in partnership with all of the Tasmanian community services peak bodies, is putting the Plan into action. The Workforce Development Plan recognises the need for a new strategic approach by the Tasmanian community services sector as a whole to ensure the existing and emerging workforce is sustainable and is able to adapt to the many changes being required of it. These include the move towards consumer-driven services and personalised budgeting, a sharper focus on outcomes reporting and increasing compliance requirements. The key bodies involved in developing the Plan, which was funded by Skills Tasmania, were: the Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council Tasmania, Family Services Association, Mental Health Council of Tasmania, Multicultural Council of Tasmania, Shelter Tasmania, Tasmanian Council of Social Service, Tasmanian Association of Community Houses and the Youth Network of Tasmania.

Roundtable invitation

In June, the peak bodies met for their first Community Sector Workforce Development Roundtable meeting, aimed at shaping the group’s governance, terms of reference, scope, membership and agenda for actioning the Plan’s priorities.

14

However, to ensure this is a crosssector partnership, all community sector peaks, both those covering specialist program areas and those representing demographics, have been invited to

consider action through participating in the Roundtable. The Roundtable is an opportunity for peak bodies to plan in partnership across the sector, as well as advance their own initiatives within their specialist areas for ensuring an effective workforce for the future. All members at the first meeting demonstrated a great motivation to work together to action the Plan. As a priority for partnership, the group agreed to focus on the development of a sector profile to describe the size and shape of our sector and its workforce. This will be developed over coming meetings, together with mapping what workforce development activities are happening across the sector and where the opportunities for partnership might lie for: • Developing training, peer learning and resources that meet the needs of workers across the sector, particularly in the crucial areas of governance and management and leadership. • Working with education providers and Registered Training Organisations to develop qualifications and career pathways that support new and existing workers to enter the sector and progress easily both within a specialist program area and to transfer across from one specialist area to another area of the community services sector. • Developing core workplace skills initiatives that address the sector workforce’s functional literacy issues. The Roundtable will also agree annual review mechanisms for

actions in the Workforce Development Plan, so it can report to all stakeholders on joint progress. TasCOSS will be focusing on actioning two of the three Plan priorities as part of its sector development work in 2013-14:

Priority 1: Increasing and retaining our workforce

Building and strengthening the sector’s governance skills, as well as management and leadership skills, are among key focuses of the TasCOSS Sector Development Unit this year. These skills are the foundation stones for ensuring that organisations are able to plan for and meet the challenges of changed service delivery models and reporting requirements. These changes include those required due to DisabilityCare Australia, Home and Community Care (HACC) funded services and other consumer-centred and prevention-oriented models; and reporting requirements such as those of the new DHHS Quality and Safety Standards Framework. Key skills threaded through capacity-building for community sector Board members and leaders will be: • Adaptive management: encouraging leaders to regularly review and reflect on program progress and outcomes to ensure their services are relevant to their consumers and are making differences to communities. • Utilising social outcomes reporting, to ensure leaders are able to understand and articulate to consumers, communities and funders the impacts that they are having.


TasCOSS News August 2013

TasCOSS will develop an accredited management and leadership course • Embedding consumer engagement across organisations’ practices, taking the learnings from TasCOSS’s Department of Health and Ageing and HACC-funded project to the wider sector to ensure leaders can confidently engage with their consumers and stakeholders at all levels of their planning and operations, keeping their services relevant. TasCOSS will create a website hub for governance, where organisations can access training and development, along with resources and networks. In response to last year’s feedback from participants, TasCOSS will offer a series of training sessions for new and experienced Board members, covering roles and responsibilities, financial, risk and strategic management, and also discounted governance training for TasCOSS members, hosted by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. TasCOSS will create a website hub for management and leadership, where organisations can access training and development, along with resources and networks. TasCOSS will develop an accredited management and leadership course for the Tasmanian community sector, in consultation with training partners. TasCOSS will also focus on developing skills in adaptive management and social outcomes measurement through establishing the Tasmanian chapter of the Social Impact Measurement Network Australia (SIMNA) later in the year. TasCOSS will work with the Workforce Development Roundtable members to identify opportuni-

Banners of sector peak bodies at the launch of the Community Services Workforce Development Plan in March 2013.

ties to partner in these initiatives and develop others that may complement these.

Priority 2: Building workforce development and planning capacity

In addition to establishing the Workforce Development Roundtable, the other major focus for priority 2 this year will be creating a regular cross-sector profile. TasCOSS has undertaken a mapping of current sources of data on the Tasmanian community services sector. This existing data may boost understanding of the shape, scope and funding base of the sector and its workforce, as a benchmark for and a basis of workforce planning. Although there are comprehensive pieces of work that help to inform small areas of the sector, such as ATDC’s Survey and the

DHHS Sector Profile derived from the 2012 salary census, there is no comprehensive and regular data collected about the whole community sector and its workforce in Tasmania. The Roundtable has considered a paper on the potential scope of such a sector-wide profile and will be meeting again in September to consider both our collective capacity-building and areas for potential partnership, and what a regular sector profile might look like, how we will conduct it with minimum intrusion for organisations and how we will use it. For more information about workforce development, contact Lindsey Moffatt (Lindsey@ tascoss.org.au) or Dale Rahmanovic (dale@tascoss.org. au) on (03) 6231 0755 or see the Sector Development pages on www.tascoss.org.au

Lindsey Moffatt TasCOSS Sector Development Manager

15


Budget outcomes could have been worse The funding of two vital social inclusion reforms offset some 2013-14 State Budget disappointments

F

or the third consecutive year, the Tasmanian State Budget was delivered in a challenging financial environment, with yet further cuts to the state’s GSTbased income and with lower than expected state tax revenue. In this context, TasCOSS can confidently say that this Budget could have been worse. On Budget Day, TasCOSS warmly welcomed the State Government’s funding commitments to two major reforms – the Gonski reforms to education funding and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, now known as DisabilityCare Australia. The $83 million allocated over four years to Tasmania’s education system will remain in place regardless of whether or not the Gonski reforms are implemented nationally. This is a very welcome commitment, since education is so clearly linked to access to opportunities, good health outcomes and adequate income. Equally welcome is the financial commitment to DisabilityCare

Australia which, for the first three years involves a launch project in Tasmania aimed at young people, aged 15 to 24, living with disability. An allocation of $5.2 million has been made for this over three years, with $11.6 million allocated in the following year (2016-17) for the start of the full roll-out of the DisabilityCare system. TasCOSS was also pleased to see additional funds allocated to cover community sector wage increases resulting from the Fair Work Commission’s Equal Remuneration Order of 2012. This is in addition to the allocations in the last State Budget and is based on the information gathered in the salary census of DHHS-funded organisations carried out by DHHS in 2012.

Indexation blow

Indexation to DHHS-funded community service organisations was granted at 2.25% for the third consecutive year. Although not unexpected, this was a disap-

pointment to TasCOSS and the sector. The Indexation Impact Survey 2012, carried out for TasCOSS on the cumulative effects of low indexation on community services found that the effects were starting to be felt by organisations large and small. Organisations were finding it hard to cover their core costs, which are rising faster than indexation. Some were cutting service hours and staffing, while others were cutting professional development activities. Another year of inadequate indexation will only worsen the situation for many organisations. TasCOSS was also disappointed that there was no new money provided to address waiting lists for those not included in the DisabilityCare launch project for vital disability services, including supported accommodation and day support, or to address unmet need for mental health services and homelessness services.

Welcome move

TasCOSS was very pleased to see funding allocated in this Budget for the establishment of a checking system for people working with children in Tasmania. This is a long overdue honouring of the commitment made some years ago by the Tasmanian Government at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). Tasmania remains the only Australian jurisdiction that has not implemented such a system. Other welcome initiatives:

Tasmanian Association of Community Houses executive officer John Hooper, left, at the TasCOSS

16

State Budget Day briefing on 23 May. TACH received $4 million for capital works in the Budget.

• $4 million over two years of additional capital funding to the state’s neighbourhood and community houses, as well as $580,000 to the Tasmanian Association of Community Houses for locally based preventa-


Housing costs obstacle to employment The Australian areas with the most available work are also unaffordable for job-seekers

A recent report by Australians

for Affordable Housing found that housing is unaffordable for jobseekers in all of the 40 regions in Australia where they are most likely to find work. The report, Opening Doors to Employment: Is housing affordability hindering jobseekers?, sought to find whether labour mobility in Australia is hindered by access to affordable housing. Based on its findings, the report suggests that access to affordable housing could be a factor in reducing the impact of longterm unemployment. A generally accepted measure of affordable housing is the ‘3040’ measure; housing that is less than 30 per cent of income for those at the bottom 40 per cent of incomes. As the occupations identified in the report are among the lowest paid, housing affordability was defined in the report as housing that costs up to 30 per cent of income. The report found that workers in some occupations may need to pay more than half their income on rent. For example, carers and aides would need to spend more than

half of their income on rent in 19 of the 40 areas surveyed. Sales assistants and salespeople would need to spend more than half of their income on rent in 32 of the 40 areas. Cleaners and laundry workers would need to spend more than half of their income on rent in 23 of the 40 areas. Survey sites included the inner cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, key suburbs and regional centres such as Geelong and Cairns. No Tasmanian areas were included in the survey. The occupations the report focused on were chosen because they represent the best chances for jobseekers following periods of unemployment. The occupations included were carers and aides, cleaners and laundry workers, storepeople, sales assistants, factory process workers and labourers. The results from the report are conservative: given that people moving from unemployment to employment are likely to move into part-time, casual and insecure employment, housing affordability for many jobseekers is likely to be worse for more people than indicated by the research.

Workers in some occupations may need to pay more than half their income on rent Likewise, housing stress is also likely to affect those who are under-employed, that is, in parttime employment but unable to move into full-time employment because of the labour mobility impacts of high rents. The report recommends that programs that assist jobseekers take account of the impacts of housing affordability. It also recommends that housing affordability policies and programs consider the availability of affordable housing in areas of opportunity for jobseekers, and the impact that this has on reducing unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment. This is a summary of the report Opening Doors to Employment : Is housing affordability hindering jobseekers, by the Australians for Affordable Housing coalition. The full report is available from www.housingstressed.org.au

from page 16

tive health programs. • The continuation of funding for both the Disability and Family Support Gateway Services. • Continuation of funding for the Future Services Directions reforms in Alcohol and Drug Services. • $10.4 million over two years for

the Church Street youth accommodation and training facility. • $900,000 over four years to support Years 11 and 12 regional education, plus access to $2.3 million for schools to develop facilities. • $50,000 for Carers Tasmania and the establishment of a Carers’ Council.

• $1 million over two years for preventative health initiatives for individuals, communities and population groups considered to be at high risk. Read the full TasCOSS 2013-14 Budget analysis at www.tascoss. org.au Kath McLean and Meg Webb, TasCOSS Social Policy and Research Unit

17


Welcome to our new members

A group providing volunteer advocates for people with disability, a disability services provider and Burnie City Council have joined TasCOSS

T

asCOSS recently welcomed three new organisational members, all based in the north of Tasmania. They are Citizen Advocacy Launceston Region, the Burnie City Council and Multicap Tasmania. Citizen Advocacy Launceston’s focus is to establish and support one-to-one, personal relationships between volunteers and people with disabilities in the North East region as a way of promoting and defending their personal wellbeing and interests. “The volunteer citizen advocate’s role may include sharing a walk to the park, going out for a coffee, assistance with daily cleaning tasks or perhaps being an advocate for their protégé in legal matters,” Citizen Advocacy administration officer Dave Robinson said. The Citizen Advocacy office is run by three dedicated staff members and funded by the Federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Phone Citizen Advocacy Launceston on 6331 2177 or see www.citizenadvocacylton.org.au

18

Multicap Tasmania, also known as The Society for Multiply Disabled People of Tasmania, was founded in Burnie in 1971. It provides day activities and in-home support.

The Burnie City Council also runs a Burnie Youth Council program, in which students can develop their leadership skills and participate in community projects.

Multicap has four group homes in Tasmania, including a 19-bed Supported Accommodation Facility, seven-day service centres and various respite facilities, located in the North and North West of the state.

Join TasCOSS

The organisation employs more than 100 staff members, to ensure that all of its clients get specialised and personal care, as well as learning opportunities. Multicap focuses on the rights of all people to participate in the community as valued members of society. The organisation believes that by helping people to develop their skills and by providing support, it can assist people to participate, and be free to express their independence, choice and opinion. Contact Multicap Tasmania on 6431 3211, or see www.multicap. com.au for more information. The Burnie City Council, as part of its community-building work, has a Financial Assistance Grants program to support community clubs and organisations. Organisations to have benefited from the program include the Salvation Army, which used funding to buy power tools for community-based projects, and the School of Special Education to give students in wheelchairs easy access to garden beds.

TasCOSS has been working as an advocate for low-income and otherwise disadvantaged Tasmanians since 1961. TasCOSS members, both organisational and individual, share and support our vision of a fair, just and inclusive Tasmania. Membership of TasCOSS starts from as little as $50 a year for organisations (depending on operating income) and is $57 a year for waged individuals ($15 concession or unwaged). Membership fees are tax-deductible. Members receive: • Discounts on all TasCOSS training and events, including TasCOSS state conferences. • Eligibility to attend and vote at TasCOSS meetings. • Eligibility to vote in elections for the TasCOSS Board. • Eligibility to stand for election to the TasCOSS Board. • Eligibility for appointment to TasCOSS regional councils. To find out more about TasCOSS membership visit www.tascoss. org.au, or call 6231 0755.

Citizen Advocacy volunteer Michelle,

Lauren Gard

right, and client Joanne.

TasCOSS journalism intern


Tony Reidy

Beng Poh

Chief Executive

Executive Assistant

Jill Pope

Gabrielle Rish

Finance Officer

Communications Officer

Kath McLean

Lindsey Moffatt

Manager, Social Policy and Research

Manager, Sector Development

Dale Rahmanovic

Wynne Russell

Development Officer

Policy and Research Officer

Sector Development Unit

Social Policy and Research Unit

Meg Webb

Tim Tabart

Policy and Research Officer

Development Officer

Social Policy and Research Unit

Sector Development Unit

Klaus Baur

Gus Risberg

HACC Project Officer/Consumer Engagement

Shared Services Project Manager

Sector Development Unit

Sector Development Unit

TasCOSS The Tasmanian Council of Social Service, TasCOSS, was established in 1961. TasCOSS is the peak body for the Tasmanian community services sector.

Our mission

To advocate for the interests of low-income and otherwise disadvantaged Tasmanians, and to serve as the peak council for the state’s community services industry.

Our vision

A fair, just and inclusive Tasmania.

TasCOSS is supported by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sponsored by Hesta.

Printed by Monotone Art Printers. Design by Charlie Bravo Design. Printed on 100% recycled paper.


TasCOSS Newsletter August 2013