Page 1

TasCOS S Tasmanian Council of Social Service


November 2013

Where we should be heading

Budget priorities for the next state government, p 8 Child and Family Centres, p 4

Skills for measuring outcomes, p 6

Seeking asylum: the realities, p 12

TasCOSS News November 2013

Stories of resilience, participation, health and wellbeing

Contents 3 From the CEO

4 Child and Family Centres

6 Using outcomes to drive planning and performance

8 Budget priorities for the next state government

10 Reframing the indexation debate

12 Seeking asylum: the realities

15 Red Cross consumer engagement success

Mental health consumers educate the politicians

18 Welcome to our new members

Advertising and insert rates 2013 Advertising (exc GST) Non Members







Quarter $25


Inserts (exc GST) Members

Non Members



Editor: Gabrielle Rish

2 Phone: (03) 6231 0755

In this issue of the TasCOSS newsletter, we focus on stories about resilience, participation, health and wellbeing. These are the three principles that TasCOSS has identified in its 2014-15 Budget Priorities Statement as vital to the quality of life for individual Tasmanians, local communities, society as a whole and also the state’s economy.

David Hunt giving the Dorothy Pearce Address.

New community-business friendships



At the 2013 TasCOSS Dorothy Pearce Address, held on 30 September, US community development strategist David Hunt spoke of the importance of telling stories – and, in the case of his audience, of telling the stories of the important work the Tasmanian community services sector does.

A new community-business partnerships group has been created on LinkedIn to share information and resources and build networks between Tasmania's community, business and government sectors. The group emerged from the Department of Economic Development’s Partnerships for Business and Community Success conference, held 6-7 November in Hobart. The conference was a great success, with a continuous buzz in the room, largely due to the unusual mix of people – about 50 from large and small businesses, 20-30 from government and more than 100 from a broad range of community organisations.

prosper if we could find ways to work together. Many participants wanted to create an online means to build the connections begun during the conference, which led to TasCOSS setting up the LinkedIn group. At the time of publication 86 people had joined it. Read more and join the group at groups/Community-BusinessPartnerships-Tasmania-6550687/ about Contact Tim Tabart on (03) 6231 0755 or for more information.

It was also due to the unusual

format, which included a full day of group workshopping exploring needs, fears, benefits and opportunities to build partnerships. There was a tangible sense of optimism in the room and a feeling that Tasmania would

Participants at the Partnerships conference.

The state election priorities TasCOSS will be pushing are squarely based on community priorities


asCOSS provided its annual Budget Priorities Statement (BPS) to the State Government in late October, setting out a clear set of objectives that must be taken into account by the government that prepares a State Budget for the financial year 2014 -2015 and for its policies for the years beyond. The BPS is a centrepiece annual consultation and research document for TasCOSS, providing a solid evidence base for sustained advocacy on behalf of low-income and disadvantaged Tasmanians, and the community sector organisations that support them. The timing of this year’s Budget submission, and the comprehensive consultation involved in bringing it together, make it an invaluable research document on which all the political parties can draw in establishing their state election campaign policies. This year TasCOSS has centred its BPS on three key outcomes for all Tasmanians – resilience, participation and health and wellbeing – outcomes that we believe individuals and their communities should be able to achieve in an affluent country. The submission is about crucial action needed to be taken for the resolution of some pressing social justice issues and also about a longer-term strategic investment by government across the full term of the next parliament. Elsewhere in this newsletter you will find details of the 38 recommendations made in the BPS under the broad headings of housing and housing affordability, employment, education, transport, affordable essentials,

protection for vulnerable Tasmanians, government and community engagement, and strengthening the community sector. These recommendations have been distilled from extensive consultations with TasCOSS members, the wider community sector, key stakeholders and members of the public. The recently adopted TasCOSS consultation framework has expanded and strengthened our community reach, encouraging feedback, ideas and practical solutions from all around the state. TasCOSS held its inaugural Regional Forums in all three regions of the state in August, with attendees including our individual and organisational members, representatives of a range of community sector service providers, key community sector stakeholders in government and the private sector, and members of the public with an interest in social and community sector policy. Attendees were asked to identify the key immediate and emerging issues for them and their clients, and to let us know how the investments made by government could be improved. As the 2014-15 State Budget will be the first in the next term of government, it is vital that an achievable vision for a socially healthy Tasmania is set in place for the next four years, and TasCOSS has ensured that the widest possible audience was consulted in framing this advice to government.

The development of this BPS has attempted to take into account the views of local communities at every step of the way, as a key element of our mission is to provide a voice for those who are disadvantaged.

TasCOSS News November 2013

From the CEO

Sometimes those views are heard directly, sometimes through the organisations we work with in our sector development role. As soon as the BPS is finalised, we embark upon a concerted

It is vital that an achievable vision for a socially healthy Tasmania is set in place for the next four years

advocacy program involving meetings and consultations with key government and opposition political leaders, as well as senior officers of a range of government departments and business enterprises. TasCOSS also works to get its message out through the mass media and, more recently, through social media. We hope this will ensure a good hearing for the 38 recommendations in our Budget Priorities Statement – recommendations squarely based on community priorities.

Tony Reidy TasCOSS Chief Executive


Community investment in learning

Tasmania’s Child and Family Centres are offering outcomes-oriented services with learning opportunities for all involved

Child and Family Centre locations: Beaconsfield Bridgewater Burnie Chigwell Clarence Plains Derwent Valley East Devonport George Town Geeveston Queenstown Ravenswood St Helens

In Tasmania we regularly hear

about poor educational engagement and low levels of literacy in our community. Our state’s performance in these areas is a barrier to employment and economic participation and contributes to inter-generational disadvantage. There is no silver bullet to fix this situation: addressing educational disengagement and improving literacy outcomes must be tackled at all stages of life, throughout our education system and also as a matter of community culture. One area the State Government has invested in over the past five years to promote educational engagement and improve outcomes is that of early years development and support. This focus on the early years (birth to 5 years) is an opportunity to support the development, learning and school readiness

of Tasmanian children, in combination with support for families and care-givers. Connecting children and their families to pathways of learning and participation also helps to foster a community culture that understands and embraces learning and educational involvement. A key feature of the investment and focus on early years has been the establishment of 12 Child and Family Centres in communities around the state. The sites for these Child and Family Centres were chosen according to need for the services the centres would provide (projected population growth, number of 0-4 year olds and levels of disadvantage) and also according to the local community’s capacity to support a CFC and be involved in its development and operation. Child and Family Centres can

be stand-alone facilities or located near schools, Neighbourhood Houses, LINCs, childcare centres and health centres. The centres were designed to provide integrated service delivery in which services provided by the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education would be physically co-located but also connected under a common set of goals. The goals are to improve the health and educational outcomes for children in the birth to 5 years age group, provide integrated early years services in local communities and to build on the existing strengths and capacity of families and communities. These goals sit within an overarching vision and approach based on integrating services and tailoring their delivery to local needs and circumstances.

Chigwell CFC sees benefits of early intervention From before birth to the age of six, a child’s brain is developing rapidly and laying down patterns that will shape the rest of their lives. The model of a Child and Family Centre is based on research that suggests that the most effective way to support families is within a collaborative service delivery model. As Centre Leader of the Chigwell Child and Family Centre in Hobart, I have observed the benefits of early intervention strategies when working with families.


Families are less inclined to have periods of chaos and stress, they learn strategies and skills to parent effectively, and are more likely to re-engage with educa-

tion, training and employment as well as develop as responsive and caring parents. This year CFC Chigwell collaborated with TasTAFE to deliver the Fast Forward program. This program offered an introduction to Child Development and Work and Study program. The eight-week program targeted families with low literacy and English as a second language. Families were offered transport and adjunct childcare for two mornings a week. Teachers used innovative methods of program delivery to engage parents, while children enjoyed the rich play-based learning environment of the Child and Family Centre.

Relationships were the key to the success of this program. Friendships created social connections and decreased potential for social isolation. Teachers formed trusting relationships with parents and encouraged confidence to ignite a desire for parents to investigate other avenues for training and skills development. “I got some knowledge about children, which helps me a lot in taking care of my own babies,” one participant said. Another said: “It’s the first time I have done something with people from another country.” M’Lynda Stubbs, Child and Family Centre, Chigwell

The local community is involved in all aspects of the operation of the Child and Family Centres – as participants, volunteers, advisory and governance groups, deliverers of programs and services, and decision-makers. Local needs, identified by the community, determine what services are delivered. Services are provided in partnership, involving a range of government departments and agencies and also non-government organisations. Service providers are brought together in the centres to offer an integrated and collaborative service model. Services for children from birth to 5 years include: antenatal care, Child Health and Parenting Services, child and family health, immunisation, nutrition, oral health, visiting paediatricians, children’s therapies (eg speech), early childhood education and care,

playgroups and Launching into Learning programs.

tional outcomes and attitudes to education in our state.

Services for families and carers include: adult community education and vocational training, parent education programs, family support, mental health, alcohol and drug services, pathways to employment programs, coffee meeting place, social connections and peer support.

The investment in the early years is an investment in the future and we will observe its effect on retention and achievement rates in years to come.

Child and Family Centres aim to be open, inclusive and accountable to their local communities. A key way in which accountability is ensured is through the establishment of a Local Enabling Group (LEG) made up of community members. The LEG meets regularly to provide input, advice and direction to the Centre Leader. It may take a long time to find out whether this model of service delivery will achieve the intended policy results and assist in turning around the educa-

In the meantime, there can be measurement of the associated impact and progress in local communities and for individuals connected with these services.

TasCOSS News November 2013

An important part of this approach is that local communities are empowered to have a level of control and responsibility to meet their local needs.

A Child and Family Centre Statewide Outcomes Framework has been developed, and local communities have developed their own Local Outcomes Framework for each CFC based on this document. Monitoring and evaluation against these Frameworks will help to provide evidence of progress and change.

Meg Webb Manager, TasCOSS Social Policy and Research

Beaconsfield baristas Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre opened in 2011 and one of its goals in the first year of operation was to recruit 12 volunteers to be involved in the day-today activities and running of the centre. This goal was achieved, with volunteers ranging in age from 21-78 years and involved in cooking, cleaning, child-care, administration and making tea and coffee for clientele. The volunteers also received training in First Aid, Family Food Patch and barista skills.

Volunteers at the Beaconsfield Child and Family Centre proudly display their barista certificates.

As parents, grandparents and community members, the volunteers connect the centre to its local area and build capacity in the community. Their contributions of time and skills greatly expand and add value to the services.


Outcomes for planning and performance

TasCOSS has launched a three-year strategy to build capacity in social outcomes measurement “We’re

nice people and have been very busy. Please give us some more money” was the gist of most applications for grant renewal Mark Friedman saw in his time as manager of a government grants unit in the United States. Friedman, who went on to develop the Results Based Accountability framework, said organisations would speak at length about the activities they had done or were planning to do, but provided little evidence about whether those activities had made a real difference in people’s lives. They provided few answers to questions from Treasury officials or politicians who wanted to know whether taxes were being well spent. The situation appears similar in Tasmania, where the contractual and reporting relationship between the Department of

Health and Human Services and the community service organisations it funds has largely focused on the extent of activities undertaken, rather than the outcomes for the individuals and communities those activities target.

Indeed, a national study on the measurement of outcomes of community organisations found that measurement in general, let alone outcomes measurement, is rarely embedded in the dayto-day practice of community organisations (ARACY 20091).

At a time when state and federal funding is tightening and social needs are becoming increasingly complex, the need to put resources into interventions that work is critical.

In response, the TasCOSS Sector Development Unit is undertaking a three-year project to work with CSOs to build the levels of knowledge, skills and networks in using outcomes in planning, evaluation, service improvement and reporting on programs and services.

TasCOSS and DHHS have jointly identified the desirability of putting outcomes at the centre of contracting and accountability processes. However, it is recognised that the measurement of outcomes for social services is complex and that the current level of skills and knowledge is limited among both community sector organisations and DHHS staff.

Three-year project

This work will be done in conjunction with DHHS, which will also work with its own managers and Funding Agreement Managers to improve their knowledge and skills, as funder requirements dictate what information CSOs collect and report on. The necessity for government to invest its limited funding in interventions that make a real impact in the community means that it has a clear imperative to ensure the overall contracting and reporting framework is outcomes-focused. A 2010 TasCOSS report, Making a Difference: Towards an outcomes, performance and accountability framework for Tasmanian community services2 , concluded that an outcomesbased approach to performance management and accountability offered significant benefits. Outcomes-based approaches can assess the effectiveness of a service, program or service system in producing real change. In contrast, input or outputbased approaches can only

Another benefit of outcomesbased approaches is that they rely on feedback from consumers to assess what impact services and other initiatives are actually having. Therefore, they encourage service providers and funders to put clients at the centre of service planning and evaluation. However, the 2010 TasCOSS report found that: “Outcomes accountability is hard to implement. If done poorly, a systemic move to an outcomes-based accountability framework can add to red tape and bureaucracy without actually contributing to client and community outcomes.” Outcomes for community services are hard to measure and it is challenging to develop appropriate performance indicators because they are influenced by multiple programs, organisations and other factors, and develop over a long period. “Outcomes measurement and accountability must firstly be practical and meaningful for community service organisations. It must help them to improve their own services. This is a key factor enabling funded services to produce reliable data...” (TasCOSS 2010, p.15) TasCOSS recognises that moving towards the measurement of outcomes to drive planning and performance will be a long process and a challenging one. The three-year project we are embarking on will only begin the journey. The TasCOSS project will include two interconnected and complementary streams. The first stream will build gener-

ic knowledge and skills across CSOs and largely focus on outcomes of individual services. It will include seminars, training, web-based resources and facilitated networking between organisations.

TasCOSS News August 2013

assess efficiency by measuring the level and quality of activity undertaken.

It will include an exploration of the various approaches to outcomes measurement, such as Social Return on Investment, Program Logic, the Outcomes Star, or Mark Friedman’s Results Based Accountability. The emphasis will be on understanding common principles underlying all of these approaches, so whatever organisations choose is used wisely. The second stream is more ambitious, and will focus on building a coalition of partners to address broad population outcomes that cannot be achieved by individual services. This stream will build on the growing national and international interest in collaborative strategies, where a cross-sectoral coalition of agencies and organisations work in a coordinated way toward a common social goal, using common outcome measures to monitor their progress and drive and motivate action. International studies of initiatives that successfully tackled complex social problems have identified common elements and the term “collective impact” has been coined to refer to such strategies. A small but growing community of practice is emerging (Hanleybrown, Kania and Kramer 20123). For more information, or to join the Tasmanian chapter of the Social Impact Measurement Network Australia, contact Tim Tabart at or 6231 0755

Measuring inputs and outputs is simple, measuring outcomes more complex.

At a time when state and federal funding is tightening ... the need to put resources into interventions that work is critical

Tim Tabart TasCOSS Sector Development Unit

1 ARACY (Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth) (2009) Measuring the outcomes of community organisations. ARACY, Canberra. Downloaded from: community_organisations.pdf 2 TasCOSS (2010) Making a difference – towards an outcomes, performance and accountability framework for Tasmanian community services. 3

Hanleybrown, Kania & Kramer (2012) Channelling Change: Making Collective Impact Work Stanford Social Innovation Review http://www.


Priorities for the next state government

Housing, employment, education and transport head the TasCOSS priorities for the 2014-15 State Budget


he 2014-15 TasCOSS Budget Priorities Statement makes 38 recommendations to government that TasCOSS believes will lay the foundations for building resilience, fostering increased participation and improving health and wellbeing in the Tasmanian community. TasCOSS consultations across the state identified key priorities for the next State Budget – a Budget that we don’t yet know which party – or parties – will deliver. These priorities will also form the core of next year’s state election campaign for TasCOSS.


Access to affordable housing remains a pressing issue for all Tasmanians as secure, appropriate and affordable housing is a key social determinant of health, as well as a prerequisite for economic and social participation and for resilience. Our key recommendation for housing focuses on securing more money for public housing in Tasmania by relieving Housing Tasmania of its debt to the Commonwealth Government. Every year almost half of the funding Tasmania receives for public housing is returned to the Commonwealth in repayments on a $202.8 million loan accrued in the years when the Commonwealth loaned rather than granted housing money to the states.


TasCOSS recommends that the State Government relieve Housing Tasmania of this debt by transferring it to Finance General, where it can be serviced through general government revenue, thereby freeing up funds for Housing Tasmania to direct to its urgent maintenance backlog and to building new homes.

We also call for a Tasmanian State Policy on Affordable Housing, the replacement of highwattage PureHeat heaters in Housing Tasmania properties, a continued State Government commitment to the National Rental Affordability Scheme and the expansion of programs to assist low-income Tasmanians into home ownership.

Employment and education

Recent years have seen an increase in Tasmania’s unemployment rate, currently the highest in the nation. TasCOSS believes that the State Government must increase its efforts to create employment opportunities for Tasmanians seeking work. TasCOSS recommends the reintroduction of a Minister for Employment together with a supporting Office of Employment to concentrate efforts to create jobs. Other employment-related recommendations include funding to provide workforce experience through internship, mentorship and volunteering programs; increased access to entry-level vocational training courses; and increased support for people experiencing barriers to finding and maintaining work. Tasmania’s low educational retention, completion and attainment rates are a matter of perennial concern and are major factors holding back individuals, communities and the state as a whole from realising their potential. Alongside programs of support for vulnerable and disengaged students and pathway planning for all students, TasCOSS recommends the establishment a broad-based, long-term public campaign to focus on changing the culture in Tasmania that

devalues education.


The ability to get where you need to go – that is, access to affordable and appropriate transport – again emerged as a key issue for disadvantaged Tasmanians at our consultations in all regions. There are many transport options in communities across the state but access to these is limited. We therefore recommend that a one-stop transport website be developed and maintained to maximise the use of existing commercial and not-for-profit transport options, and to identify transport gaps that need filling. Community transport and Tasmanian bus services all require increased funding and we make recommendations to that effect.

Affording essential services

An ongoing problem for low-income households in Tasmania is the ability to pay for the electricity and water services that they need. Community sector workers report that they are seeing an increasing number of households with very high electricity debts and households that have been disconnected – and remain disconnected – from electricity for many months. TasCOSS recommends the establishment of a disconnection crisis intervention service to work directly with households so that no one gets cut off because they can’t pay their power bill. This intervention service would offer guidance on debt management, energy use reduction and other issues that may have led households to the brink of disconnection.

Sector development

A major role of TasCOSS, as the peak body for the Tasmanian community services sector, is to promote and facilitate effective, efficient and connected community service organisations. Such organisations can maximise their contribution to building resilience and improving participation as well as the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities in Tasmania. A participant at the TasCOSS regional consultation in Hobart adds her thoughts on what Tasmania should be like in five years’ time.

We also recommend increased funding for energy efficiency retro-fitting of low-income homes; a water concession for tenants and regulation of the passingthrough of water use charges to tenants; and funding for consumer advocacy in essential services to ensure that consumer voices are heard in policy development and regulation.

Protecting vulnerable Tasmanians

TasCOSS and its members strongly believe that the State Government has a key role to play in protecting vulnerable Tasmanians and that the fulfilment of this role is a measure of the Government’s commitment to social justice and equity. TasCOSS calls for: • Increased and guaranteed future funding for the state’s successful Protecting Older Tasmanians from Abuse strategy. • The introduction of a $1 bet limit on electronic gaming machines to protect those with gambling problems. • Funding for advocacy services for children and young people in State care.

• Adequate funding to properly implement the Mental Health Act 2012. • Establishment and recurrent funding for a state-wide peak consumer organisation to represent the interests of Tasmanians with a disability. • The establishment of a Community and Disability Services Commissioner to investigate and address complaints about services provided by non-government community and disability organisations.

Government and community engagement

The Department of Premier & Cabinet has devoted significant attention and resources to developing a Community Engagement Framework to assist government agencies to interact more effectively with the Tasmanian community. TasCOSS recommends that the whole-of-government implementation of this Framework be

TasCOSS News November 2013

adequately funded, monitored and evaluated and that government personnel be trained in its use. TasCOSS believes that this will greatly improve government and community engagement and ultimately lead to better policy outcomes for Tasmanians.

In the Budget submission, TasCOSS makes a number of recommendations for government action towards assisting the sector to these ends, including: • Adequate funding for community services, recognising core, compliance and innovation costs. • Effective partnerships to achieve agreed goals and to improve service delivery. • Developing skills and knowledge from the foundation level up to excellence and innovation. • Streamlining reporting, sharing resources and harnessing the sector’s purchasing power. The production of the TasCOSS Budget Priorities Statement is not an end in itself, but the beginning of an active process of advocacy, discussions and debate to convince all political parties and other decision-makers that our recommendations are worth taking up and will make a positive – and cost-effective – contribution to the development a thriving Tasmanian community and economy.

Kath McLean TasCOSS Social Policy and Research Unit


Reframing the indexation debate

Funding of community service organisations needs to recognise the full cost of service innovation in the sector


he Tasmanian community services sector is experiencing the cumulative impact of financial relationships with the State Government, increasing compliance and reporting costs imposed by funders and new standards legislation. On top of those is the need for organisations to continuously develop and innovate to meet changing approaches to service delivery and an increased demand for services. The overhead costs are now, individually and collectively, starting to bite. It is critical that we reframe the current funding of these ongoing costs to ensure that our organisations can focus on what counts: delivering relevant services that make a real impact in our communities.

How you can help Over the coming months, TasCOSS will be consulting with members and the wider sector about: • Examples of the costs faced by organisations that fall within the full costs of operation, management and leadership, compliance, service delivery and innovation. Also, by how much these are rising annually. • Potential models the sector could consider as part of our advocacy strategy, for example, the UK’s full cost recovery model, other states’ indexation strategies, other models available in specialist sectors. In the meantime, if you have examples of the ongoing costs and annual rises experienced by your organisation that you would like to share, please contact Lindsey Moffatt, Manager Sector Development on

Operating costs for CSOs are rising considerably faster than the rate of indexed grant funding provided through State funding bodies.1 The 2012 TasCOSS Indexation Report2 found that overheads such as power, rent, rates, vehicle operating costs and insurance premiums were rising at between 3 and 15% per annum. Of respondents to the indexation survey, 85 per cent of organisations were finding it harder to meet core costs, despite undertaking a range of savings strategies such as exploring cheaper providers and shared service options, and reducing nonfrontline activities like workforce development and governance. Attendees at recent TasCOSS Regional Forums highlighted the cost and replication of effort required to meet multiple reporting and quality compliance across State and Commonwealth funders and reporting agencies, which was taking staff time away from frontline delivery. Organisations’ compliance costs will increase even more, if there is no careful planning for subsidy, with the introduction of new Workplace Health and Safety obligations and the need to undertake background checks for both staff and volunteers proposed under the draft Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Bill 2013. The fact sheets provided with the draft legislation suggest that

the costs of registration for volunteers will be $30-$40 and for paid employees $125-$150.

Changes in service delivery

The increased need for community service organisations to respond to changes in service delivery, management and governance practices is putting a strain on training and development budgets already pruned to focus funding on frontline services. Survey and interview respondents in the TasCOSS Indexation research (2012) identified staffing and workforce issues as having been most significantly impacted by the reduction in indexation; 85% of survey respondents and all people interviewed reported they have already reduced staff training activities, some no longer providing any staff training or only the absolute minimum. However, these developmental costs are essential if services are to have good governance and management practices and be able to innovate to better meet the needs of local communities. Boards and managers need key foundation skills sets within governance and leadership, and adaptive management and innovation skills to address the changes currently happening in our sector. These changes include the trend towards market-based business models due to funding being transferred from organisational grants to consumers in the form of personal budgets. This is


There is no consistent level of indexation offered across State Government funding bodies. As an example of the range, for 2013/14, DHHS offered 2.25% indexation on community services grant funding, the Department of Premier and Cabinet did not index community services grant funding. 2


TasCOSS, 2012, What Impacts has Reduced Indexation had on DHHS Funded Community Service Organisations? Available at http://www.tascoss. %20project%20report%20v3.pdf 3

See, for example:

TasCOSS News August 2013

already the case in aged care and is being introduced through the NDIS. Policy approaches that encourage more consumers holding the purse strings are likely to spread, amplifying the importance of CSO leadership skills such as financial and risk management, service targeting and marketing, and consumer engagement in all aspects of strategic and operational planning and delivery. The tightening of public purse strings also requires our Boards and managers to have enhanced income and revenueraising skills, including the need to forge partnerships with other community sector organisations for delivering services and with the private and philanthropic sectors to diversify funding sources.

Articulating outcomes

The move towards outcomesbased funding and reporting will require organisations to be able to articulate the differences they are making within communities to achieve outcomes such as health and wellbeing, resilience and participation. Such innovation and development comes at a price, which should be seen as ongoing costs for organisations looking to stay effective and competitive, rather than an added luxury if there is any spare cash left after paying the bills and delivering services. TasCOSS and other capacity builders are offering development within such management and leadership skills, but organisations of all sizes need the time and resources to be able to access them if they are to remain relevant and competitive. State government service purchasing and grant-making currently deals with CSOs’ overhead costs in an inconsistent and inadequate manner. Some departments apply a level of indexed funding, not based on a formal agreement, such as the Department of Health and

Participants at a TasCOSS regional consultation forum discuss sector funding issues.

Human Services, while others do not acknowledge indexation in funding at all. None has undertaken a thorough and transparent review with the sector about the range of overhead costs and how these may be met adequately to ensure effective and efficient service delivery. Under the principles of the current Partnership Agreement between DHHS, Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Tasmanian community services sector, it is the time to work more closely together, to acknowledge and recognise these cost pressures and negotiate a mutually sustainable approach to funding models. Looking at international models such as the UK full cost recovery approach3 is a timely option, along with considering other models and formulae that might more adequately reflect overhead costs that can be built into purchasing and grant-making right across state government departments. The August 2013 Community Sector Peaks Network meeting agreed that there was an appetite to reframe the advocacy debate around the need for adequate funding, as well as to

These developmental costs are essential if services are to have good governance and management practices and be able to innovate consider what we mean when we talk about ‘ongoing costs’, the appropriate model for recognising organisations’ core running costs and the span of state government departments the model might apply to. In preparation for this debate, TasCOSS has recommended in its 2014-15 Budget Priorities Statement that “the State Government hold an open dialogue with the community sector to agree a renewed model of government funding for purchasing community services and allocating grants for delivering community services across government departments that recognises the full costs of operation, management and leadership, compliance, service delivery and innovation, replacing the currently unclear and inadequate indexation formula”.

Lindsey Moffatt Manager, TasCOSS Sector Development


Seeking asylum: the realities

While asylum seekers remain a political football, community sector organisations play a key role in supporting new arrivals


n August 2013 TasCOSS held a public forum on the challenges people seeking asylum and humanitarian entrants face in Tasmania. The New Arrivals forum looked at the legal, practical and emotional challenges, the services currently available and services still needed. Two of the speakers, Al Hines, Manager of Migration Support Programs for the Red Cross in Tasmania, and James Norman,

Manager of Humanitarian Settlement Services at Centacare Tasmania, attempted to give definitive outlines of their programs. But it is hard to be definitive – and extremely hard to forward plan for programs – when federal government policy shifts so frequently. For example, another speaker at the forum was an Iranian refugee who received a bridging visa prior to 13 August 2012. This means he is allowed to work.

But it is illegal for people granted bridging visas after 13 August 2012 to do paid work. (Volunteering is permitted.) Hobart teacher Emily Conolan, who set up the communitybased Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support (TASS), spoke at the forum about the value of simple human kindness. The refugee’s presentation to the forum, reproduced opposite in edited form, illustrates this eloquently.

Slim chance of resettlement It is troubling to reflect that for the bulk of the world’s population seeking refuge, the greater the need the higher the barriers often are for entry and settlement in a safer place. According to the latest figures available from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in 2012 there were around 15.2 million people around the globe displaced outside the borders of their country of origin by conflict, famine or natural disaster. Of them, more than 7 million were trapped in what the UN refers to as “protracted situations” – in other words, they had been displaced for five or more years. An asylum seeker is someone who is seeking international protection under the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Under this Convention, a refugee is any person who, “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”, is unable to stay or fearful of staying in their country of citizenship, or cannot return there. It does not cover individuals or groups who leave their country because of conflict, famine, or natural disaster, let alone because they wish to seek a better life.


Under the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to seek asylum, and the 1951 Refugee Convention prohibits states penalising those who come directly from a territory where their life or freedom is threatened, even when they lack valid travel documents. Consequently, a person who arrives without meeting the legal requirements for entry (without a valid visa, for example) is not ‘illegal’.

A humanitarian entrant is someone who has been found to qualify for refugee status under the Convention and who has been offered resettlement. Resettlement involves not only legal and physical protection, but also access to civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights similar to those enjoyed by citizens, and generally allows former refugees to become naturalised citizens in due course. However, the vast majority of people displaced in the world are not resettled: instead, they are parked, usually with no legal status or long-term settlement opportunities. As a consequence, they lack the right to health services, education and employment; often, they are at risk of harassment by the authorities or of being forcibly ejected, either to another country or their country of origin. Of the more than 15 million people displaced outside their country’s borders in 2011, only 440,000 claims for asylum were lodged in the 44 industrialised countries for which the UN High Commissioner for Refugees maintains statistics. And if the number of claims is small, the number actually resettled is tiny: less than 1% of the world’s refugees are resettled under the UNHCR’s resettlement program in any given year.

Wynne Russell TasCOSS Social Policy and Research Unit

TasCOSS News November 2013

Iran to Tasmania via Christmas Island I was born in Tehran, the capital of Iran. I was born in a middle-class family. I finished high school with an excellent grade and was a taxi driver then ran my own business for five years. In 2000, I was jailed for possessing beer. This made me aware of what was happening in my country and I became involved with politics. I participated in political demonstrations against the regime and during these activities in 2009, I was arrested and put in prison. They convicted me as a leader of rioters. I was tortured many times. I received electric shocks, verbal abuse and I received 148 lashes, 74 lashes at a time. My younger brother is a lawyer and has influential friends who helped me to escape from the country. They bribed the airport officials so I could pass across the border. I flew to Dubai then to Indonesia. When I came out from the airport in Indonesia, I saw many different people with different language, OMG how am I supposed to manage unpredictable things that I would come across? I met a guy who asked me what I was doing there. I said that I was trying to find a smuggler to take me somewhere but I do not know anyone. He said he could introduce me to a smuggler that he knew. I met the smuggler and paid him $6000 and he took us to Christmas Island. It is very hard for me to find the words to describe that boat journey to you now. I arrived on Christmas Island in May 2011, and as soon as I arrived, I started learning English. There were other activities but I knew that learning English was my top priority and it helped

me not feel how slowly time was passing. Six months after being on Christmas Island I learned my father passed away. I was on Christmas Island for about a year and then was granted a Bridging Visa to leave the detention centre. I was worried, anxious, honestly, my feet did not vote to go out because I was not ready yet, I did not have enough English language skills and I did not know where I was going to live. It was 9 o’clock in the evening that the wheels of the plane touched the ground in Hobart. I had been told that someone would come to pick me up at the airport, but I thought it was impossible because it was late at night. I thought I would have to sleep at the airport.

I did not know where to go and I also had no friends to stay with Fortunately I saw the airport police and showed them my papers and explained everything. They took me to the police station and made a few phone calls to find out about the matter then they took me to the hotel where a room had been reserved. The following day I went to the hotel receptionist to figure out who had booked the room and how long I could stay there. The receptionist made a few phone calls and eventually one of the Red Cross staff came and picked me up. People seeking asylum on Bridging Visas receive four to six weeks’ free accommodation

Emily Conolan of Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support addresses the New Arrivals forum.

and after that they have to find a place of their own to live. It was the third week that I met Al [Hines], the Red Cross manager, and I was absolutely desperate. I asked her whether there was any way that she could help me be returned to Christmas Island. I did not know where to go and I also had no friends to stay with. I explained that on Christmas Island, I had a room, I had time to study English, there were officers there that I could speak with, but here I have nothing and no one. I was worried about where I would live and how to rent a place because I do not know the rules. Al said: “Let me see what I can do.” After a few days she came and talked about one of her friends who had a farm and told me if I was interested in working on the farm she would organise everything. I would receive free accommodation and food in return for working on the farm five hours a day, five days a week. It was a


TasCOSS News November 2013

good opportunity so I could save up some money to rent a place. The farmer and his family were good people. I met new people and had time to study. One day I had knocked off and I was cooking dinner. A family friend dropped in to buy some vegetables and asked whether we served food there too. With my sense of humour, I said: “You’re the first customer.” He said “Was that a joke?” and I said “yes, but I would be more than happy to share my food with you”. After half an hour it seemed that we’d known each other forever. I went to my new friend’s farm and stayed there for a month [then] he contacted some friends of his and found a place for me to stay while they were away. It was unbelievable! I hadn’t even met his friends and they had let me stay at their house. I said to myself that I have to repay their kindness somehow and actually I did. I broke one of their mugs! It was time to rent a place of my own and I had saved up the money. Niki permitted me to stay at her house while it was on the

market for rent and during that time I could look for a place of my own. I stayed at Niki’s house for six weeks with a friend who was also seeking asylum but we could not find a place because we could not afford the rent. We had to move out from Niki’s because she had rented it, so Susie talked to friends of hers for us to stay at their place. We stayed there for four weeks and eventually with friends’ help we found an affordable place to rent in Lutana, where I live now. I feel that I have to give something back to this community because the community has helped me so much. I am very grateful to be here and now want to be part of Australia’s future. I would like to thank the agencies who are working hard to help new arrivals settle into the new chapter of their life here in Tasmania and across Australia. Here is the place that I say thank you to Al, Emily, Jill, Astrid, Susie, Niki, the farmers and everyone who helped me establish my new life * The refugee who gave this address did not wish to be identified for fear of reprisals against his family in Iran

New arrivals get outdoors The Get Outside with Community program is a collaboration between the Parks and Wildlife Service and Wildcare. The program’s main aim is to support new arrivals to Tassie to build up knowledge, skills and confidence about their new home and its world-class reserve system, as well as friendships with volunteers who want to share their love of Tassie. For the last two summers, we have run approximately 15 excursions with around 200 people from CALD backgrounds, including asylum seekers on bridging visas, refugees on protection visas and international students, supported by a pool of 15 Wildcare volunteers. We have been on half-day trips to peri-urban reserves, full-day trips to national parks and overnight trips to Maria Island. A discovery (educational) ranger who provides safety and Leave No Trace messages, and heritage interpretation where suitable, the Wildcare coordinator and/or myself go on all excursions. In early November we ran a two-day leadership course with 13 ‘new’ Tasmanians who had demonstrated leadership qualities during last season’s excursions to give them the knowledge, skills and confidence to lead guided walks and help organise this season’s excursions. We have also run two cross-cultural training courses for volunteers . If you would like to become a volunteer, all you need to do is to buy an annual Wildcare membership for $25 at http://www. where you can join a Get Outside With Community group, either in the north or south of the state. For more information, contact Sam Cuff on 6165 4232 or Sam. Sam Cuff

James Norman of Centacare gives an overview of the Human Settlement Services program at


the 27 August New Arrivals forum in Hobart.

Interpretation & Education Officer, Community Programs Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania

Fruitful discussion over lunch

A single consumer engagement consultation by the Red Cross resulted in multiple service-wide consumer and staff benefits


he Red Cross runs a delivered meal service that is a major undertaking. More than 420 volunteers deliver meals to around 450 people in the Launceston, Evandale, Lilydale, George Town, Scottsdale, Bridport, Exeter, Burnie, Westbury, Queenstown, Roseberry, Beaconsfield and Campbell Town areas. In early 2013, the Launcestonbased Red Cross Delivered Meals Service (DMS) agreed to participate in the HACC consumer engagement program run by TasCOSS. The service decided to stage a consumer forum to evaluate overall service delivery and discuss the meals provided. The main aim was to increase client satisfaction and to adapt service delivery to accommodate the changing needs of the community. Delivered meals have an important role in supporting people with their independence and ability to stay in their own homes. The DMS centrally coordinates all meals, which are prepared by a sub-contractor before being delivered by volunteers. The consumer engagement project was carefully planned by the Red Cross team, with input from TasCOSS and the TasCOSS project partner, the Victorian Health Issues Centre, a consumer engagement not-for-profit expert organisation. Management wanted all staff to be engaged and have an active role to make the forum a success. Their main role was to facilitate, listen and take notes, and seek consumer input in a more personal and informal way. Up until then, the service had mainly relied on surveys.

Clients, staff and stakeholders share lunch at the Red Cross Delivered Meals Service consultation. consumer engagement forum.

The forum took place on 14 May 2013, involving consumers, staff, management, volunteers and stakeholders. A second consumer engagement event, the evaluation of the forum, was conducted two weeks later with a smaller group. A unique feature of the first forum was that it occurred while sharing an in-house ‘delivered meal’ at the DMS Mowbray office. Participants had soup, sweet and sour chicken, steamed carrots, corn and beans with mashed potato, followed by a dessert. The impact of the consumer engagement project was significant. The meals were improved, the consumers felt heard and valued, the staff and the stakeholder’s service commitment to delivering an excellent, clientfocused service increased immensely. “We realised that we should participate to bring our program strategically into the future, but the consumer engagement

forum resulted in further unexpected changes,” said DMS manager Pauline Frankcombe, who had initially been reluctant about the project. “One of the main, unexpected changes was a change in approach or attitude by the subcontractor, Launceston General Hospital Food Services,” she said. “In the past, they were preparing meals for us – the Red Cross. Since the meeting there has been a shift and they now prepare a meal for consumers. “They give more attention to what is prepared, they offer more variety and meals have a health focus. “We now see extra items added to the meals and more variety. For example, we now see a special food day every fortnight, offering unique meals or cultural variety. The consumers had suggested more vegetables, which is now also being delivered.” Another change that resulted was that Launceston General

cont: page 16


TasCOSS News November 2013

TasCOSS plans to extend Consumer Engagement Program The TasCOSS Sector Development Unit runs an ongoing project to advance consumer engagement understanding and practice in Tasmania’s Home and Community Care (HACC) sector. Key aims of the program are to support HACC service providers to plan, implement and review their consumer engagement activities, through drawing on good practice, through delivering formal, accredited training and informal sessions to staff, managers, executives and boards, in partnership with the Victorian Health Issues Centre, and through offering providers ongoing support to develop and deliver their projects. The program has several stages of evaluation to show and share the positive impacts of advanced and deepened consumer engagement efforts for consumers and for organisations. Service providers and TasCOSS have found that good consumer engagement is currently occurring at individual levels: during case planning or case reviews. Only some consumer representatives are being involved as equal partners in decisions at wholeof-organisation or wider service / program levels. In 2012-13, TasCOSS worked statewide with 14 providers over 15 consumer engagement projects. During 201314, it is planned to work with a further 15 providers/consumer engagement projects, as well as offer further training for the 2012-13 providers.


Hospital Food Services, which had previously sent a project officer or administrative staff to the service coordination meetings, now sends its manager and deputy manager.

Benefits to organisation

As people’s health improves, they would naturally stop using the delivered meals service. However, one of the main reasons for consumers leaving the service in the past had been their dissatisfaction with the quality of the food. Since the consumer engagement project there has been no occasion where ‘dissatisfaction with the meals’ was the reason. “Every consumer leaving our service is provided with an exit survey,” Pauline said. “Now we have hardly any consumer leaving the service because they are not happy with the meals.” The service has also noticed that consumer complaints have decreased significantly since the forum, from an average of seven per month to only two. Customer satisfaction is one of their performance criteria. Having all staff actively involved in the forum also proved a successful strategy. Some were hesitant in the beginning. However, all staff attending found it a positive experience. Challenges experienced at the event were quickly overcome by the willingness displayed by everyone to improve the meals and the overall service.

TasCOSS’s Sector Development Unit has longer term plans to cascade the valuable lessons in consumer engagement from the HACC project to the wider community services sector through training and support.

“As a team we feel we achieved a lot,” one staff member said. “It has enabled us to think about the clients more and more often, realising our clients need, and should, have more of a voice and input into the service.”

The TasCOSS HACC Consumer Engagement Program is jointly funded by the Tasmanian HACC Program through the Department of Health and Human Services and the Commonwealth HACC Program through the Department of Social Services.

Staff were touched by how valued the consumers felt by being invited to the forum and being given a voice in reviewing their meal service. Pauline said the project had made a positive impact on workplace culture

For more information contact Klaus Baur on (03) 6231 0755 or

Red Cross Delivered Meals Service manager Pauline Frankcombe

and staff engagement. “It seemed to have enthused our stakeholders no end, which has been fantastic, and it has given staff more of a feeling of belonging to their service, which is wonderful,” she said. “The way staff now deal with consumer issues and complaints is much more client-focused and more flexible, which has led to a significantly more effective service.” Two of her staff recently undertook the Graduate Certificate in Consumer Engagement, a nationally accredited course delivered for the first time in Tasmania through the TasCOSS HACC consumer engagement program. It is hoped that the competencies gained will benefit staff and the organisation in the future.

Way forward

The range of very positive outcomes from the consumer engagement forum, including some of the unexpected ones, has led the service to commit to twice-yearly consumer engagement events, including at the DMS’s satellite units in more remote locations. “This is the way the Red Cross HACC Services are heading into the future,” Pauline said. “Our experience has been excellent and I would encourage everyone to do this,” she said.

Klaus Baur TasCOSS HACC Project Officer

Mental health consumers teach politicians F

lourish Mental Health Action In Our Hands is a not-for-profit community organisation established to ensure that mental health consumers’ rights, responsibilities and opinions are respected by policy-makers, service providers and the Tasmanian community. Flourish’s main role is systemic advocacy and this work is led by consumer groups that meet once a month in the state’s three regions. In the lead-up to the 2013 federal election, the Flourish Regional Advisory Groups requested public forums where the main political candidates for Denison, Bass and Braddon would discuss their views on mental health and answer questions. The theme of the forums was “Is the Federal Government doing enough in Mental Health?”. The forums, facilitated by ABC journalists Airlie Ward and Emily Bryan, drew 80 people in Hobart, 70 in Launceston and 55 in Devonport. About half of the questions at each forum came from mental health consumers and the other half from carers. Most of the questions were about the availability of services and psychiatrists, particularly outside Hobart, and the gaps that exist when making the transition back into the community from in-patient care.

Federal candidates speak at the Flourish forum in Devonport.

Bringing the forums together was a major undertaking for Flourish but it was well worth the effort to put mental health firmly on the political agenda. The consumer engagement aspect of the forums was also invaluable. Mental health consumers, particularly consumer leaders, are generally quite vocal and are rarely shy about coming forward at events like this. However one consumer attending the forum in Devonport said at the start of the event that she

wanted to ask a question but she couldn’t because she felt disempowered. In the end, she did pluck up the nerve to ask her question. That alone – to have given a voice to one consumer who previously had none – made the forums worthwhile. Some of the political candidates wrote to Flourish afterwards to express their gratitude at having participated in the forums, saying they had learned a lot about mental health policy issues from the well-informed consumers. Darren Jiggins,

Executive Officer, Flourish Mental Health Action In Our Hands Inc

Join TasCOSS 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 or-

ganisations (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., or call 6231 0755.


Welcome to new members T

asCOSS recently welcomed two new organisational members. They are the Rosebery Community House and Optia Inc, which provides disability support services statewide. The Rosebery Community House has been operating since the early 1980s, growing organically from a space at the back of a church to occupying and adding extensions to a premises that formerly housed a barber shop and, later, a dress shop. The Community House is run by three staff: coordinator Lyn O’Grady, an admin support/ youth worker and a cleaner/ back-up child minder. The centre provides everything from Playgroup toddler gym to

Eating with Friends and Broadband for Seniors. “With our mining workforce, people come and go, so we have numerous activities for a diverse range of ages and people – a new face walks in the door every day and, with that new face, comes a new idea,” Lyn said. She says the Community House even has an informal role as a tourism information centre because Rosebery has no official one. She says tourists often come in to ask advice or even just to recharge their mobile phones. Lyn said the Rosebery Community House had always been aware of the good work TasCOSS did and finally decided to become a member to take full advantage of the training opportunities. “We’ve seen the wonderful training in governance – we’ve had at least three representatives do that training and they have thoroughly enjoyed and got a lot out of it,” Lyn said. “Of course, it’s made my job more interesting because they ask more questions, but that’s a good thing! We really have a skills-based Management Committee.”

Rosebery Community House Halloween fun. An Optia girls’ group meeting at a semi-independent living premises.

Lyn, who was born at Queenstown and lives at Zeehan, has been Coordinator at Rosebery for two years. Before that, she worked in crisis accommodation. “I love the work we do at the Community House. It’s not reactive, it’s developmental, and you have lots of small wins that make up a good day.” Contact the Rosebery Community House on 6473 1497 or email roseberync.coord@internode.

Optia Inc


Optia is a Tasmanian provider of services to meet the individual

needs of people living with disability. The name is Latin, meaning ‘freedom to choose’. Optia employs over 350 people statewide, delivering the following services: • Supported accommodation • Semi-independent living • Respite accommodation for children and adults • Leisure & recreation program • Community support (eg, budgeting, appointments, increasing life skills, in home respite, increasing social skills and relationships, daily living skills) • Dual diagnosis support • Specialist support services – crisis, long-term and Intensive Support (ISS), in home/community setting or in Optia’s purpose built house • Transitional housing • Plan management Optia’s services are founded on tailoring support to individual need and choice. Each client’s preferences and abilities are explored to best match clients with compatible services, groups and support workers. Supporting clients of all ages and abilities, Optia is also recognised as a specialist in the areas of complex needs and behaviour support. Optia also offers: • Community education to promote inclusion and greater independence for people with additional needs. • Training and consultancy services for other organisations across Tasmania and Australia. Optia has been a trusted provider of disability support services since 1989 (merging the former Tyenna and Euphrasia organisations). Contact Optia on 1300 067 842 or see

Tony Reidy

Beng Poh

Chief Executive

Executive Assistant

Jill Pope

Gabrielle Rish

Finance Officer

Communications Officer

Meg Webb

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

Kath McLean

Tim Tabart

Senior 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 November 2013  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you