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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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.

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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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TasCOSS, the Youth Network of Tasmania (YNOT) and Community Legal Centres Tasmania (CLC Tas) are deeply disappointed and concerned by the decision of the Meeting of Attorneys-General to develop a plan to raise the age of criminal responsibility to only 12 years old.

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.

TasCOSS MEDIA RELEASE: Band-aid measures to curb pokies harm insufficient

Gaming legislation passed in the House of Assembly late last night is not fit for purpose and will not protect at risk Tasmanians from the harms caused by poker machines.

Take Me To Your Board S01E10: Board Effectiveness

Could the ongoing Theranos saga have been avoided with a more effective board? In this episode, Bridget and Cameron unpack the role AICD Not-for-profit Governance Principle 4: Board Effectiveness played in the case of the the Silicon Valley start-up that wasn’t quite what it seemed. Highly experienced board member and Chair of Spirit Super, Naomi Edwards, helps the team assess how a stronger focus on board effectiveness may have exposed the problems overlooked by the Theranos board and helped to mitigate the damage.

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.