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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OPCAT Implementation Bill 2021

TasCOSS does not support establishing the Custodial Inspector as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) and we urge the Tasmanian Government to consider alternative models that incorporate the expertise of civil society organisations.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Landmark Industry Plan maps path forward for community services in Tasmania

In an important milestone, The Tasmanian Government and the community services industry have released a ten-year Community Services Industry Plan (2021-2031) to guide industry development, recruit and train our growing workforce and to futureproof the delivery of much-needed services to Tasmanians in need.

State Budget summary (Seven Tasmania News, 26/08/21)

State Budget summary (WIN News Tasmania, 27/08/21)

Budget demonstrates commitment to doing things differently (Mercury Talking Point, 28/08/21)

Adrienne Picone says the latest Gutwein State Budget has plenty of green shoots, but any real judgment of its effectiveness will be in the months and years ahead.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: 2021/22 State Budget

There are significant initiatives in this budget that will benefit Tasmanians who are experiencing disadvantage in our community, however as important as these dollars are, we need to ensure this funding is making a real and lasting difference to the lives of Tasmanians struggling to get by day-to-day.

Take Me To Your Board S01E09: Roles and Responsibilities

Every single member of a board needs to have a deep understanding of the responsibilities of their role for the organisation to run effectively. In this episode, Bridget and Cameron enlist the help of one of the state’s most experienced board members and the Director of Environment, Development and Community at Kingborough Council, Dr Katrena Stephenson, to look at the Australia Post Cartier watch saga and discuss the expectations all new and aspiring board members should be aware of before deciding to take a seat at the table.

Gaming Control Amendment (Future Gaming Market) Bill 2021

The Gaming Control Amendment (Future Gaming Market) Bill 2021 represents a unique opportunity to enact sound public policy in relation to gaming in Tasmania. In particular, it represents an opportunity to review to what degree the gaming market model benefits the Tasmanian economy and society and to what degree it is consistent with a ‘health-in-all policies’ approach to public policy.

Social Services Legislation Amendment (Consistent Waiting Periods for New Migrants) Bill 2021

TasCOSS opposes the Bill because it denies basic support to single parents, carers, new parents and children, without which many would have no income at all. It imperils the financial security of thousands in the middle of a pandemic which continues to affect people’s ability to put a roof over their heads and food on the table.

Policy Conversations: Rethinking the Use of ‘Vulnerable’ Wrap

TasCOSS’s latest Policy Conversation: Rethinking the Use of ‘Vulnerable’ had a great turnout with representatives from more than 40 organisations present to witness a rich discussion on the value and challenges of the term ‘vulnerable’ and its use in the community services industry. Special thanks to Dr Catherine Robinson (Anglicare Tasmania’s Social Action Research Centre) — our wonderful guest speaker — for her time, expertise and passion.

Under 16 Homelessness Policy Framework

TasCOSS has had a long involvement in advocating for children and young people living in difficult circumstances in Tasmania. The draft framework is a good starting point for our collective response to the needs of unaccompanied homeless children in Tasmania, but it currently lacks clarity in some respects and needs further articulation.

Commission of Inquiry into the State Government’s Response to Child Sexual Abuse

In preparing this submission, TasCOSS consulted with organisations with frontline and policy expertise in the child safety system and children’s welfare. The submission addresses seven systemic themes that are or will in future impact on the adequacy and appropriateness of the State Government’s response to allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts.

Draft Container Refund Scheme 2021

TasCOSS welcomes the introduction of a Container Refund Scheme (CRS) and the potential it provides for social benefit beyond the environmental benefits of recycling.

MEDIA RELEASE: New FindHelpTAS website to better connect Tasmanians with local community services and support

A partnership of community services organisation have today banded together to launch Tasmania’s most up-to-date and comprehensive service directory.

Expression of Interest: Governance Training

TasCOSS provides bespoke introductory governance workshops. These workshops help build understanding of of good governance practice. Governance workshops are interesting, interactive and tailored to your needs.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Welcome relief with electricity costs for households

The announcement by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator (TER) that household electricity prices will fall by 7.11% next month couldn’t come soon enough for Tasmanians grappling with mounting cost of living pressures.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: COSS directors call for national action to raise the age of criminal responsibility

The Council of Social Services (COSS) directors jointly call on Commonwealth, state and territory governments to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years of age.

Grocery Unit Pricing Code Review

Effective unit pricing is a consumer protection measure that is vital to the many thousands of Tasmanians who have low numeracy and/or literacy and live in poverty or on inadequate incomes.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Winter chill prompts calls to improve household energy efficiency and lower power bills

With the winter chill well and truly blanketing the state, TasCOSS is calling on the State Government to improve energy affordability for Tasmanians and provide increased support for households to lower their electricity bills.

Access Support for your Energy Costs

With the end of June fast approaching, it is a timely reminder to households that electricity disconnections can recommence as a further tranche of COVID-19 protections are removed.