Unlock the last quarter of Tasmania (The Mercury Talking Point, 04/12/18)

Investing in people is the missing piece of the puzzle that will enable many more of us to share in the good times, says Kym Goodes.

IT is an exciting time for Tasmania. Our economy is growing, visitors are coming to the state in record numbers, more of our young people are participating in school, and billions of dollars will be invested in job-creating projects over the next 10 years.

Now is the time of opportunity, including to make sure the growth is sustainable, and that more people can prosper. We need to unlock the potential that is dormant in our regions and our communities. We need a game-changer strategy. We need a strategy to ensure growth is inclusive and no one is left behind.

Our people are our greatest asset. As any successful business person will tell you, no matter how much you invest in your business, in infrastructure, equipment, the latest technology, a business will not be profitable or sustainable if you don’t equally invest in your people. That’s why large organisations prioritise managers of “people and culture” — because people are the most important part of any business. They are critical to its success.

Tasmania is no different. When you map investment in Tasmania from the three tiers of government it is strong in infrastructure — in irrigation, in tourism, in roads and in energy projects. And when you look at a map of Tasmania you can also see the vast World Heritage Area — one-fifth of our island protected for future generations. What you can’t see on that map is the one-quarter of Tasmania that is locked up because of a lack of investment in our people. That must change.

About 120,000 Tasmanians do not have the opportunity to live a good life. They try to live on less than $433 a week while finding the resources to look after their family, and to look for work. They have to make choices that many of us aren’t forced to make — for example, to move out of major population centres due to a lack of affordable housing. They are faced with other barriers beyond their control like a lack of access to reliable, affordable transport that can get them to services, training and work. They experience cultural barriers like prejudice, stigma and exclusion. And they face very personal barriers with low levels of literacy, dental problems and poor physical and mental health.

The potential of one-quarter of our people to participate in the social and economic opportunities our state offers and to live a good life is denied them by barriers not of their making. Turning that around would be a game-changer for the future of our state.

Inequality is one of those problems that can feel too big and too hard to change. But we can and we already are. In communities throughout Tasmania local residents are taking the steps to make a difference. Community led. They are turning it around.

In the partnership between the Tasmanian Council of Social Service (TasCOSS), Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the State Government we are working to turn it around. In the Derwent Valley, the South-East, the Break O’Day municipality and now the West Coast, community members are coming together to find ways to get local people into local jobs. They are asking people what their hopes are, what the challenges are, and what the solutions could be. And, with funding from the State Government, they are trying different ways of doing things, connecting job seekers with employers and building on the resources and strong connections in their communities. They know the problems are not the fault of individuals and so we must share the responsibility as a community and as Tasmanians.

This work is a strategic investment by the State Government in people. And we need a lot more of it. Just as investment in irrigation has led to expansion of our agriculture sector, so we must make a significant investment in our people so everyone has the opportunity to participate fully in life on our amazing island.

The strategic investment flagged by government in the Infrastructure Project Pipeline demonstrates the government has allocated over $1 billion to capital investment over the next four years. It’s time to shine the spotlight on investment in our people — our soft infrastructure — investment that matches the hard infrastructure spend and ensures all Tasmanians will have the opportunity to have Tasmanian jobs.

We have been here before. We have seen strong economic times. But we haven’t tackled the deep disadvantage that has excluded many from participating and therefore sustaining our economic growth. To quote Santayana, those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. We must not condemn another generation of Tasmanians to being locked out of the opportunities ahead. Let’s make this our game-changer moment.

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

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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.