Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cuts to community services

We support the call made today by the Councils of Social Services for the Federal Government to reverse funding cuts to much-needed community services.





From their media release:

Councils of Social Service  across Australia have today joined forces to call on the Federal Government to urgently reverse the damaging cuts to community services so that they can continue to support the country's most vulnerable.

The Federal Government has identified up to $1 billion in "savings measures" from community services that include:
  • $270 million over four years to Department of Social Services;
  • foreshadowed cut of $197 million to Department of Health;
  • $500 million in cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community services;
  • additional cuts to legal services including Legal Aid and community legal services.

The Councils of Social Service across Australia are calling on the Federal Government to:
  • Stop these funding cuts and determine, in partnership with the community service sector, adequate funding levels to meet community need and maximise social and economic participation for everyone.
  • Extend current funding for organisations that have not yet been able to finalise new Government funding offers.
  • Adopt the recommendations of the Productivity Commission to improve government contracting with community organisations.

22 comments:

  1. I was reading recently about a research project that found for every $1 spent on a local football club it returned approx $4.50 back to the community. This covered mental health by taking a break outside etc. One would imagine this sort of research has been done to show for every community service $$ spent the end result is a saving to the community. could this sort of thing help or would it just be ignored like the research into moving people and Millers Point has been ignored?

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    1. Hi Anon,
      That kind of work is done every so often- for instance, Community Legal Centres offer a return on investment of 1:18 - for every dollar spent, the return to society is worth $18. http://www.naclc.org.au/cb_pages/news/CostBenefitAnalysisReportshowsCLCsprovidestrongROI.php
      The very economically minded people at the Productivity Commission also recommended greatly increased funding at the end of last year. http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/access-justice/report
      Cheers!

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  2. Are social services concerned about the consumers who access their services or about their own livelihoods? Find a commercial measure that justifies your services returns on the govts financial faith;
    no more fluffy furry outcomes thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anon,
      That kind of work is done every so often- for instance, Community Legal Centres offer a return on investment of 1:18 - for every dollar spent, the return to society is worth $18. http://www.naclc.org.au/cb_pages/news/CostBenefitAnalysisReportshowsCLCsprovidestrongROI.php
      The very economically minded people at the Productivity Commission also recommended greatly increased funding. http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/access-justice/report
      Cheers!

      Delete
    2. It's interesting that someone would consider the prevention of homelessness as a "fluffy" outcome". I'd suggest that's a very real and concrete outcome. Just yesterday my service provided 4 hours of steady phone advice to 7 different clients, advocated for three further clients to their landlords, and trained a young volunteer legal intern. On Monday we'll visit a popular homelessness service and provide advice as well practical assistance such as serving breakfast, delivering another "fluffy" outcome of preventing people from turning to crime to feed their family. Unfortunately, our funding doesn't allow the three staff here to get to every client in our catchment (southern sydney down to the victorian boarder, taking in the sthn highlands) and as such are always in need of an extra pair of hands. I'd encourage you to consider volunteering your time to help us achieve more of these fluffy outcomes. :)

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    3. Yesterday I assisted 6 tenants on behalf of my tenancy service in the tribunal. Four tenants were facing termination for arrears - I was able to negotiate repayment plans to narrowly avoid loss of the roof over their heads, and give them a second chance they may not have otherwise received. Very fluffy outcomes indeed?!? I was able to assist another tenant who couldn't avoid termination by referring her to a community housing provider who was keen to provide her assistance when the time came. I was fortunate to assist another tenant to come to a settlement she could live with when facing a claim for the entirety of her bond when she desperately needed this money to commence a new tenancy. Again, all very fluffy, right?? WRONG! Just think, this is only a single day in the life of an Advocate in Social Services. Imagine how much more fluffiness we have to share in return for the financial faith of the Government... I'm going back to work to focus on the needs of my tenants, and like every other day, I am very busy. Thank you.

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    4. Recently my service was successful in achieving a difficult transfer and massive payout for a client who was suffering serious and ongoing infestation of bird lice in her property. She and her children were experiencing severe and painful skin lesions, as a result of these “fluffy birds”. Since obtaining this “fluffy outcome”, our client has already moved into her newly renovated house, bypassing the usual 3-4 year waiting period. To get such an outcome, and by consent, is most certainly a “fluffy outcome” and something our client would not have been able to achieve alone. This is just one example of the kind of “fluffy” work we do for our clients on a daily basis.

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    5. Okay well why don't you come to the Tribunal one day to see what it is like for all the tenants who are scared and have no legal background with the Tribunal process. Tenant advocates attend the Tribunal to help tenants around NSW and in doing so they save most of the tenancies. Maybe you should stop being so pompous and have a heart. It is obvious you have no idea what Community services do and how they help people in need.

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    6. I don't believe that the Service we provide is 'fluffy'. Yesterday I assisted five clients with their tenancy disputes, providing them with advice to resolve their issues. I arranged a home visit for a client that was having difficulty completing Housing forms, and received a thank you from a client that had been under threat of homeless and due to our intervention and assistance is now able to stay in her property. Solid outcomes.

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    7. i dont believe we provide a 'fluffy' service. if you have arrears we will advise you of your responsibility to pay rent, send you to a finacial counsellor to help you with your finances and assist you to make a payment plan that all parties can live with.
      so far today, and it is just past lunch, i have assisted 12 people with phone enquires, including getting back up legal advice, assisted one tenant in person to sort out where her missed rent happened so she can now pay back so she doesnt become a 'homeless' statistic, discussed 2 clients with my colleague as it is her turn to do duty advocacy, our staffing doesnt allow us both to be at NCAT each week.
      over the 5 years i have been doing my job i regularly assist 3-7 tenants at NCAT each week, with my best day where I assisted 13, all to a successful outcome. we often help a tenant work out an affordable payment plan for arrears, or assist them overcome eviction for a breach matter that either they have fixed or did not happen. this is not 'fluffy' work, this is hard work to prevent people from becoming homeless...
      we are not 'fluffy' people, we are hard working to assist tenants to know and understand their rights and responsibilities.
      i am not 'fluffy' !!! , in fact it took an ecg printout to convince my kids i actually had a heart....
      i firmly believe that prevention is better then cure, especially when it comes to homelessness...

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    8. Today, our service held a drop - in session for the tenants of South West Sydney, we provided face to face advice for 5 clients assisting with forms, paperwork, writing letters and advocating, gave 4 hours of phone advice, and assisted the Domestic Violence Service with their vulnerable clients. We have prevented homelessness, assisted the homeless and helped tenants enforce their rights. Our service is very concerned about the consumers we assist, however without funding we cannot do the work we do and get these "fluffy" outcomes for the consumers of our service!
      Feel free to come along to volunteer so you can see for yourself what we do with the government's financial faith. Perhaps you yourself will achieve amazingly 'fluffy' outcomes :)

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    9. To all of you this IS FLUFFY
      ... where were all you apparent do.gooders when I was being evicted by one of your homelessness services on a no grounds eviction into primary homelessness; when I was threatened with a CTO by a worker in order to shut me up; when centrelink grandfathered me on a dsp payment; when CRS gave me a diagnosis ... outside of their competencies... which now proves to be misdiagnosed and untreated rheumatoid disorder... Stand in line social services and give me your details direct ... id like a housing plan with aligned back to work plan that doesn't include eviction as a reward considering I waited for any sort of housing for 17 years and struggled to stay in work, fight an illness etc. I couldn't afford to actually have children ... on a post 2003 tenancy financial options to exit are limited ... the line forms to the right do.gooders; feel free to garner a case plan.

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    10. Wow Anonymous it sounds like you really could have done with a good advocate in your corner. I guess that really highlights the importance of funding for these independent legal services - cos housing, health, welfare and all these other government so-called support agencies don't always have your best interests at heart. Shows just how miserable these funding cuts are.

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    11. I went to a meeting on Friday to advocate for to a tenant who is in a wheelchair and lives with his disabled sons. This gentleman sleeps in the loungeroom as he can't get his wheelchair through the bedroom doors. He has mould growing on his ceiling and walls that he and his sons are unable to clean of because of their disabilities and the height of the ceiling. There is no adequate ventiation in the property to help reduce and control the mould. There are other repairs needed that his landlord has known about for a number of years but has refused to do anything about. All of these impact on the wellbeing and health of all who live there and visit. There is no way they would be able to rent privately. Without the help of our Serivce, this family would be living on the street. Now, because of the advocacy we provided and assistance from other Community Services, his landlord is working to house them in an appropriate property so that he can get through the doors and have appropriate modifications done so he can stay at home with his family that rely on him. This is the type of work we do everyday. Community Services can only do as much as their funding allows. Both money and guidelines impact on what we can and can't do. Instead of having go at the people who do care and work hard at helping others have a better life, go and talk to your local Member of Parliament and find out what they are doing to increase funding to services.

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    12. Yesterday my service was advised by a Housing tenant that she had her first visitor in over 16 months as repairs had finally been completed due to assistance provided by an advocate. Tenant was offered and moved into a Housing property where the carpet was in such a bad state that you could see through it. The premises had offensive grafitti on walls in most rooms, the tenant was too embarrased to invite any friends or family into the premises. Housing indicated on the ingoing condition report that work was approved and going to be completed in the next financial year, this is why tenant accepted the premises on the proviso that work would be completed.
      This afternoon I am attending a meeting on behalf of our tenancy service with local property managers to attempt to organise tenancy information sessions to be delivered in our area on a regular basis. The idea is that Tenants would attend an session where they would learn about both tenant and landlords, rights, responsibilities and obligations when in or entering into a residential tenancy.
      A certificate of completion could be awarded, the thinking is that this certificate could be included with rental applications and may strengthen an application for a tenant that is struggling to get any tenancy applications approved, such as a young person, tenant leaving social housing or prospective tenant who has never rented before.

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  3. I hear that a major uni has just received $10 MILLION to research aspects of social housing
    c'mon middle men ... what's the point ... time to go DIRECT to the consumers.....hmmm?!

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  4. Hi Anon (at 7:23)

    I don't know about that figure... but generally speaking, funding to unis to research social housing and other housing policy issues is money well spent. It produces evidence to put to government in support of social housing, and other reforms to make housing more affordable, secure and decent. Without it, the property lobby would have an even more influential voice, and policy-making would be the worse.

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    1. http://m.smh.com.au/nsw/university-of-nsw-receives-10m-to-research-affordable-housing-for-displaced-people-20150117-12rolx.html

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    2. Thanks for the link. The $10 million is an endowment, from an individual person, for a Chair in Architecture to research the provision of affordable housing to people displaced by war, natural disasters and climate change. Very interesting and enormously worthwhile work, but its not about social housing or affordable housing in Australia.

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  5. What I find amusing is this , why should there be a service that requires tenants bond money to fund you to have you assist people who have Govetnment employees to do their jobs under the Tenancy Agreement Act , by law the Landlord is required to do repairs and if a tenant writes to request these repairs or calls the maintanence call centre ,

    This tells me that this whole. Deception it to create jobs, volunteers should not require any money to assist people, if you chose to assist then why ask for funding .

    It sounds to me the Landlord purposely is not doing their part to create work to create another service to make them do their jobs , they are a Government agency that by law is in a job role who only needs to do their job , sorry but I see this as a merry go round ping pong match by Housing and Advocacy ,and both Housing and Tenant Services play emotional games , play on tenant together with the tenants stuck in the middle or you all

    all of you are disgusting , how about you work in Housing and get rid of the current lazy bums and problem solved , if you are all so keen to help tenants then get jobs in the Govetnment and all tenants will be happy

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Certainly if there was a simple way to make sure landlords always carry out their legal duties and give impartial advice to tenants, then the TAASs might find themselves out of a job... But there are two problems with this:
      1. The government is only the landlord of a small proportion of tenants in New South Wales; and
      2. Even the government can - and often does - get things wrong. This is why we have an independent Tribunal, and it's also why tenants sometimes need good advocates.

      Anyway, for more information on why Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services are a good thing, follow the link to this recent blog post:

      http://tunswblog.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/why-you-need-more-bang-for-your-bond.html

      Cheers,
      Ned.

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    2. Ned

      c'mon INDEPENDENT tribunal. Who are you kidding?
      what's the slogan;
      ...let justice be SEEN to be done....

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