NSW Government fails leadership test on care for frail older people

“The NSW Government has not supported an inquiry recommendation to retain the requirement for nursing homes to have at least one registered nurse on duty at all times, putting at risk the needs of frail older people”, said Ms Jan Barham, Greens NSW spokesperson on Ageing and chair of the inquiry.

“I am greatly disappointed the Government has completely ignored the Parliamentary Inquiry recommendation, supported by its own members, for nursing homes with high-needs residents to have one registered nurse on duty 24/7.”

“Some of these facilities have over 300 residents. Now there’s no guarantee they’ll have a registered nurse on site during the day, overnight or on weekends.”

The Inquiry found that NSW should require 24/7 registered nursing as current federal regulation fails to ensure safe staffing levels and registered nurse care for residents.

“Doctors, nurses, gerontologists, academics, health professionals, older people and their families were unanimous in their call for 24/7 registered nursing.”

“Even NSW Health opposed removing the regulation .”

“There are many tasks that only a registered nurse can do. Without 24/7 registered nursing, residents can wait for hours or days for pain relief or to have a catheter changed or have the specialised care that recognises symptoms of an emerging condition.”

“Older people in NSW deserve the very best care. They should not be sent to an emergency department in the middle of the night because there is no registered nurse on duty to provide the expert care they need. Sadly, that is going to be a reality for more nursing home residents in NSW, which comes at cost not only to them, but also the NSW Health system” said Ms Barham.

For further comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Inquiry report: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2275

No affordable rentals for single unemployed people in regional NSW

Photograph of houses

Anglicare Australia’s 2016 Rental Affordability Snapshot paints a stark picture of housing affordability for people on low incomes across regional NSW, with most areas recording very few, if any affordable private rentals for households living on income support payments.

“This year’s Anglicare report shows that we’re not addressing the affordable housing crisis, with the private rental market in regional NSW excluding households on the lowest incomes”, said Ms Jan Barham, Greens Spokesperson for Housing.

“It is alarming that none of the regional areas surveyed in NSW had affordable properties for single households on Newstart or Youth Allowance where rent does not exceed 30% of their income.”

“Unless these households can access social housing, they would be living in housing stress and be at great risk of homelessness. They would also likely have to access emergency relief, financial counselling and other support services.”

“Average waiting times for social housing across all areas of NSW are between two and ten years, revealing a chronic shortage of social and affordable housing supply.”

South-East NSW had no properties available for single people on Newstart or Youth Allowance and only 22 affordable and available properties for single pensioners. The large number of holiday homes was identified as a key reason for a lack of affordable housing as it reduces supply and pushes up rents.

In the Riverina, affordability was better with 351 properties of the 1,177 surveyed affordable for low-income households. However, there were still no affordable rental properties for single people on Newstart or Youth Allowance.

The Central West, Far West and Orana had very few options for households in receipt of income support as their sole source of income, with less than 1% of properties affordable for single parent families living on Newstart and the Family Tax Benefit. As with elsewhere, nothing was affordable for single unemployed households.

Only 8.3% of rentals advertised in the Central Coast, Hunter, Great Lakes and Taree region were affordable for income support households. There are few affordable rentals for young families and single pensioners, and none available for singles on Newstart.

In Tamworth, Armidale, Inverell and Moree there were 79 properties recorded as affordable for an income support household, but, as with the other regions, none was available for single people on Newstart or Youth Allowance. Only two properties were found to be affordable for a sole parent on the Parenting Payment with two children.

“No longer can our regions be viewed as a more affordable option for people on very-low incomes. The Government must increase social and affordable housing supply across all NSW regions with a focus on single households to reduce the widespread housing stress experienced by people on low incomes.”

For further comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Anglicare’s Rental Affordability Snapshot: http://www.anglicare.asn.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/rental-affordability-snapshot-2016.pdf?sfvrsn=7

Affordable housing down 6% on North Coast: Anglicare report – Media release: http://www.janbarham.org.au/2016/04/affordable-housing-6-north-coast-anglicare-report/


Affordable housing down 6% on North Coast: Anglicare report

New research released by Anglicare today shows that just 6.8% of rental properties across the North Coast were affordable for low-income households receiving income support payments, representing a decline of 6% from last year.


“For the fourth year running, Byron Bay recorded no affordable properties available for a household in receipt of income support. There were also no properties available in Ballina or Tweed Heads”, said Ms Jan Barham, Greens NSW Spokesperson on Housing.


“Of greater concern is that Byron, Ballina and Tweed Heads have no affordable properties for some households on the minimum wage, showing that even working households can no longer afford to rent in key areas on the North Coast.”


“Not only is the North Coast home to a large number of people on income support, its economy depends on a casual workforce. The lack of affordable housing means that many of these workers struggle to put a roof over their head because of their insecure incomes.”


The Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot recommended that social housing be boosted on the North Coast and that the tax system be reformed to reduce the cost of housing.


“NSW has 60,000 households on the social housing waiting list, with some waiting up to 20 years for housing. These households are forced into housing stress in the private rental market, or end up homeless because there is nowhere affordable to live.”


“The housing crisis is not just happening in our cities; it’s happening in the regions, too. People on low-incomes are being excluded from communities that were once known for their diversity because there is no social housing available. Government must act to turn around the trend of unaffordable housing that is sadly becoming a hallmark of our towns and cities”, Ms Barham said.


For further comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891


Anglicare’s Rental Affordability Snapshot: http://www.anglicare.asn.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/rental-affordability-snapshot-2016.pdf?sfvrsn=7 (North Coast – p. 36).

Call for Planning Minister to intervene in Belongil rock wall & Ewingsdale rezoning

Rally Opposing Belongil Beach Rockwalls

Greens North Coast spokesperson, Jan Barham MLC, has called for NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes stop a decision for a 1km rockwall at the Belongil and the rezoning of land at Ewingsdale for a seniors and commercial development.

“I’m outraged by the actions of Byron Shire Council in overturning planning principles that have been in place since 1988 for the coast and for strategic residential and commercial development. The current council is acting against the interests of the residents of Byron Shire,” said Ms Barham.

“It is a folly to consider that it is feasible to defend the coastline. It is also an affront to many residents as the planned retreat principle was advised to owners prior to their purchase of coastal land. It appears that the current council is willing to advance the property interests of a few and require Byron Shire’s residents to pay for it.

“Byron Council cannot be allowed to proceed with such irresponsible considerations that undermine solid planning principles. The community is not being informed of future liability and there seems to be no regard for the history and property owners’ prior knowledge of risk. Also, advice regarding the legal implications of reversing the long-standing and legally upheld principle of Planned Retreat hasn’t been made known to the community.

“The Ewingsdale rezoning for a seniors and commercial development does not meet the State Planning requirements to have a Local Growth Management Strategy in place. In the last 30 years this site has never been considered for residential and or commercial development.

“I am calling on Planning Minister Rob Stokes to step in and stop Byron Council from making a decision to support the building of a 1 kilometre rockwall at Belongil and an unwarranted and unwanted rezoning at Ewingsdale.

“The current majority on council are out of control and are putting at risk the future of Byron Shire. The impacts of such poor decisions have ecological, social, infrastructure and financial implications that have not been adequately assessed or supported by the community. The legal implications must also be addressed before more irresponsible decisions are made. It’s time for the Planning Minister to exercise his powers over Byron Shire Council and stop the madness,” said Ms Barham.

The Minister released new draft coastal planning laws last year and the submission period has just finalised, with new legislation due to be introduced into Parliament in the coming months. The State is a major stakeholder in coastal management with the beaches that will be affected being Crown Land.

For further comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Letter from Jan Barham MLC to the NSW Minister for Planning

Make housing affordable: Greens back calls for switch from stamp duty to land tax

Greens NSW Housing spokesperson Jan Barham MLC has welcomed the call by peak bodies from civil society and the business sector to phase out stamp duty and replace it with a broad-based land tax.

“I moved for our 2014 Parliamentary inquiry to recommend a transition from stamp duty to a broader land tax based on the clear evidence that it would improve the opportunity for people to find and afford a home. The Government and Labor wouldn’t support even considering a transition from stamp duty to land tax,” Ms Barham said.

“The new analysis released by NCOSS and the NSW Business Chamber provides more compelling evidence about the benefits for housing affordability and the broader economy.

“It’s time for the Government and Opposition to get over their reluctance to mention tax reform and support a move to tax land value instead of charging stamp duty on transactions.

“Stamp duty adds tens of thousands of dollars to the purchase cost of an average home in New South Wales, creating a barrier for new buyers and a disincentive for people to move despite changes in their housing needs. A broad annual land tax in its place would improve affordability for would-be home owners and promote better use of our existing housing stock and available land.”

Ms Barham said that given the extent of the housing affordability crisis across Sydney and many parts of New South Wales, all levels of government needed to look at using every mechanism available to improve the opportunity for people to find a home.

“Housing policy has been captured by the interests of developers and investors, instead of ensuring people have access to secure, appropriate and affordable homes.

“The Greens have shown that federal governments can improve housing affordability by reforming negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount. At the state level, the Government needs to wean itself off the stamp duty windfalls caused by the housing boom and act in the best interests of households by moving to land tax instead.

“These tax reforms need to be backed up with public and private investment to deliver affordable housing, and with planning reforms to ensure that all new developments provide a fair share of rental accommodation for essential workers and others on low incomes.

“It’s time for all governments and political parties to promote the wellbeing of our communities by ensuring people have the opportunity for a home that suits their needs.

For further comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891