They waited through the Golden Age budget — and they got this (The Mercury Talking Point, 24/05/19)

Government fails Tasmanians despite Premier’s pledge to share prosperity, says Kym Goodes.

BUDGETS are a message from governments to the community about what it sees as most important, most worthy of investment. And the State Government’s budget message to Tasmanians this year could not be clearer.

This government values investing in infrastructure over investing in people. For five years now this government has seen infrastructure spending as the panacea. They keep telling us that building things will create jobs and help deliver better essential services. If that is so then why are so many Tasmanians increasingly being left behind? Why are so many Tasmanians missing out on the opportunity to get a job and have a good life?

Minister for Building and Construction Sarah Courtney this week celebrated Tasmania recording “the strongest growth in the construction and building sector in the year to March 2019”. If that is so then why is Tasmania’s unemployment rate still disproportionately high? Local people are not getting local jobs because the Government is not investing enough in the supports that people need.

The Government’s own numbers tell the story of the past five years for many Tasmanians. There are decreasing numbers of Tasmanians enrolling in TasTAFE and VET training (63,400 in 2015 vs 54,100 in 2017). More Tasmanian children are in out-of-home care (1,054 in 2013-14 vs 1,310 in 2018-19). There are now 3,233 Tasmanians waiting on the housing register (vs 2,054 in 2013-14) and the wait time for priority applicants (including those fleeing domestic violence) has increased from 19 weeks in 2013-14 to 56 weeks in 2018-19.

Focusing investment in infrastructure is not solving these complex, entrenched social challenges in our community. A long-term, strategic investment is needed. And the Premier promised this in his State of the State Address in March. He committed to a “plan for strategic growth” including:

“INVESTING so more Tasmanians, across every region, can share in our state’s prosperity.”

“BREAK[ING] down the barriers to the greatest enabler of social inclusion — education, training and the opportunity of a good job.”

“FIND those ways to ensure all Tasmanians are feeling the benefits of a strong economy, and that no one is left behind.”

In the Treasurer’s Budget we see more of the same. The Government keeps throwing money in the same direction, hoping that something will change. But the truth is, if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got. Tasmanians doing it tough have been patient. The 17,000 job-seekers have waited.

They’ve waited through tourism budgets and infrastructure budgets. They’ve waited through the “golden age” budget that has not yet improved their lives. And this year they are being asked to wait yet again.

Tasmanians have waited and waited for a budget that invests directly in them. A budget that prioritises supporting the ability of every Tasmanian to participate in work, education and the Tasmanian way of life, not just a crisis investment for those needing acute care or intensive support. They have been waiting for a direct investment to help 120,000 men, women and children in Tasmania who live in poverty, be able to live a good life.

We can and should invest in the hard infrastructure but if we don’t also support local people to take up the jobs that creates then we’re not ensuring the prosperity can be shared. We need strategic investment to address the barriers that get in the way of getting a job and having a good life. Strategic investment to address inflexible and unaffordable public transport that can’t get people where they need to go and when they need to be there.

We need investment to ensure all Tasmanians have a place to call home and don’t have to resort to living in shipping containers or cars.

We need better support for people who struggle to read and write so they can have the basic skills they need to be able to get a job and keep it.

Over the past five years the quality of life has got worse for many Tasmanians. This should not happen in times of economic growth. We need to invest strategically now to unlock the potential that is dormant in our communities and make sure no one is left behind.

Kym Goodes is chief executive of the Tasmanian Council of Social Service (TasCOSS).


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Tasmanian Future Gas Strategy — Discussion Paper

TasCOSS is calling for a Future Gas Strategy that phases out fossil gas and supports households in the transition to electrification that leaves nobody behind. This means ending new gas connections, improving household energy efficiency and tackling the barriers to renewable energy-powered homes faced by renters and Tasmanians on low incomes.

TasCOSS 2022/23 Budget Priorities Statement: Family/Sexual Violence Policy Development and Sector Coordination

TasCOSS have put in a funding bid for $834,000 over five years to establish a family/sexual violence policy development and sector coordination mechanism for Tasmania.

TasCOSS 2022/23 Budget Priorities Statement: Digital Consumer Reference Group

TasCOSS has proposed the creation of a Digital Consumer Reference Group to represent digital consumers and support the Tasmanian Government to deliver on its plan for digital inclusion.

Religious Discrimination Bill and Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill

TasCOSS strongly opposes both the Religious Discrimination Bill and the proposed changes to the Marriage Act and urges the Committee to reject them. Regarding the Bill, we do not believe any amendments could produce an acceptable piece of legislation and urge the Committee to recommend the Australian Government draft a conventional discrimination bill that simply adds the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religious affiliation, belief and practice to an existing federal discrimination law, without allowing discrimination in the name of religion.

COVID-19 FAQs, Policy Templates and Resources

With the Tasmanian border open, information on the COVID-19 case and outbreak management (for business and organisations) has been made available with further resources, including outbreak management plan templates, accessible via the Coronavirus (COVID-19) website. The updated and simplified COVID-19 safety plan template from WorkSafe Tasmania has also been released, which will help in updating business continuity plans.

TasCOSS Offices Holiday Opening Hours

The TasCOSS offices, located at Level 3, 86 Murray Street, Hobart, TAS, 7000, will close for the holidays at 12noon, Friday 24 December 2021 and reopen on Monday 10 January 2022.

Disability Services Act Review

The disability services landscape is complex and those accessing disability services are some of the most marginalised members of our community. TasCOSS welcomes the Tasmanian Government’s commitment to meaningful reform in this area and encourages the Tasmanian Government to embrace reforms to promote the rights of Tasmanians with a disability.

Tasmanian Sport and Active Recreation Strategy

TasCOSS believe the Tasmanian Sport and Active Recreation Strategy needs to embed principles of access and inclusion to ensure all Tasmanians have meaningful opportunities to participate. We therefore encourage the Tasmanian Government to explore ways of expanding services and initiatives designed for the needs of particular groups, including older Tasmanians, children and youth, women and girls, people with disability and marginalised communities, such as refugees and LGBTQIA+ Tasmanians.

Carer Recognition Legislation Proposal

TasCOSS supports the introduction of legislation which recognises the work of carers, who perform work vital to the healthy functioning of our households, workplaces, communities and our economy.

Jo Flanagan, TasCOSS Life Member

Jo was awarded Life Membership of TasCOSS in 2021.

Kathy Brown, Individual

Individual Member

Ann Hughes, Individual

Individual Member

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Tasmania’s nation-leading anti-discrimination protections under threat

TasCOSS is urging all Tasmanian politicians to stand up and speak out against the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill currently before Parliament, which if passed will override Tasmania’s nation-leading anti-discrimination laws, cause considerable harm and division in the community, and put vulnerable children at risk.

Take Me To Your Board S01E11: Risk Management

Volkswagen, the German vehicle manufacturer, took a huge risk in 2014 and suffered as a consequence. In this episode, Cameron and Bridget look into this scandal from a risk management point of view with the help of special guest Alicia Leis, Partner (Audit, Assurance & Advisory) at WLF Accounting & Advisory.

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The Energy Charter Independent Accountability Panel — Aurora Energy

TasCOSS acknowledges Aurora’s commitment to the Energy Charter and the progress it has made against the principles. The past year has continued to present significant challenges and Aurora’s response to supporting customers and staff through COVID-19 is to be commended.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: TasCOSS Conference 2021 to showcase diverse voices of change

More than 135 leaders, industry experts, practitioners and supporters of the community services industry from across Tasmania will gather at Blundstone Arena Function Centre, Bellerive over the next two days to witness an engaging and thought-provoking line-up of speakers at the TasCOSS Conference.

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TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Tasmania continues to be the most digitally disadvantaged state in the nation

The release of the Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2021 shows Tasmania is still the most digitally disadvantaged state in Australia and not enough is currently being done to bridge the divide.