Getaboutable: A great boost for accessible tourism

Jan Barham, NSW Greens spokesperson for Disability and Tourism has applauded Getaboutable, a website developed in Australia that provides information about accessible tourism for people with a disability.

Getaboutable lists accommodation, transport and entertainment options that are accessible for people with mobility impairments, vision impairments or hearing loss.

“This is a fantastic example of a tool that promotes accessible tourism and I encourage businesses that are accessible to list their information on the site so that it can grow”, said Ms Barham.

“If tourism destinations aren’t accessible or haven’t looked at this sector, then now is the time to act. This is particularly important for regional areas, where accessibility can give them that all important point of difference.”

Ms Barham said that the tourism industry must recognise that accessible tourism is not only good for the community; it’s also good for business.

“Almost one if five people in Australia have a disability. The National Disability Insurance Scheme will see a lot more people with disability securing their independence and the ability to travel. The tourism industry must get on board with accessible tourism or risk losing a substantial customer base.”

“Getaboutable gives businesses an excellent opportunity to reach out to people with a disability both in Australia and internationally, while providing much needed information about accessibility. I look forward to its success and congratulate the instigator, Yasmine Gray from Canberra for this innovation.”

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

 

  • Getaboutable: http://getaboutable.com/
  • Research suggests that accessible tourism contributes $4.8 billion to the Australian economy, but this could be $8.7 billion if latent demand was met.[1]
  • In NSW, 30% of the population is aged 65 and over or has a disability.[2]

[1] Darcy, S. (2010) ‘Economic Contribution of Accessible Tourism’ Accessible Tourism Research http://accessibletourismresearch.blogspot.com.au/2010/01/economic-contribution-of-accessible.html

[2] ABS (2013) Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of findings, 2012 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4430.02012?OpenDocument

Greens MPs call for protection of North Coast wetlands under threat on World Wetlands Day

Cobaki wetlands

Greens NSW MP and Environment Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC and North Coast Greens MP, Jan Barham, have today called on the Baird Government to focus on protecting wetlands in New South Wales, including calling for Ramsar protection for the Cobaki Catchment on the North Coast.

World Wetlands Day commemorates the signing of the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation of wetlands.

Dr Faruqi said:

“Wetlands play a vital role in a healthy environment, including for all the waterways that criss-cross the state. Unfortunately, we are losing wetlands across the state and with it their rich biodiversity.

“This World Wetlands Day, I am calling on the NSW Premier to get serious about protecting our vital wetlands and give them the protection they deserve, including from the threats of fossil fuel mining, inappropriate development and pollution” she stated.

North Coast Greens MP, Jan Barham, said:

“The Cobaki catchment is a world class ecological and cultural treasure that is deserving of protection. As the popularity and pressures on this beautiful and important area grow, there is a greater need to protect and preserve this significant landscape.

“I will be presenting a motion to the Parliament when it resumes for the nomination by the NSW Government of the Cobaki Broadwater Catchment for Ramsar Convention protection.

“The NSW Government has an important role in the nomination of sites that meet the criteria and on World Wetlands Day I am pleased that the Greens are recognising and celebrating the natural and cultural environment and seeking protection of this national treasure” Ms Barham concluded.

Media Contact:

Matt Hilton for Mehreen Faruqi: 0423 106 247 / (02) 9230 2625.
Jan Barham: 0447 853 891

Call for Inquiry – NSW public land being used for airport runway expansion

Lindy Smith, Dawn Walker, Jan Barham MLC, Cr Gary Bagnall and Mayor Katie Milne visit the Crown Reserve affected by Gold Coast airport expansion

The Greens have expressed shock and called for a transparent and public inquiry regarding the approval of an Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the Gold Coast Airport.

Greens candidate for Richmond, Dawn Walker, said: “I am concerned to see that a runway extension has been written into the lease granted to the airport for the NSW Crown Reserve at West Tweed.

“This lease was signed between the Government and the airport without public consultation and I stand with the community in asking for the protection of public land for recreation and environmental conservation, not given away on our behalf to private interests.”

Greens MP and Crown Lands spokesperson, Jan Barham MLC, said: “The approval of the Instrument Landing System (ILS ) by the federal government is a sleight of hand that will impact dramatically on protection of NSW crown land and the wellbeing of many people in the Tweed and the Gold Coast. This process is one of deception.

“The installation of an ILS is an act of subterfuge that is all about the twice defeated plans for a runway extension. The airport wants to extend the runway to allow larger and louder aircraft such as the Airbus A340 to fly over the Tweed.

“The increased aircraft traffic will come at the cost of precious public lands, including the significant Cobaki wetlands with salt marsh and fish breeding habitat destroyed. The Crown Land is reserved for ‘public recreation’ not private interest.

“I have asked questions in Parliament about how the privately owned Gold Coast Airport gained access to the lease rights over NSW Crown Land.

“The extension proposal had twice been rejected because of the impact on the Crown Land which will include wholesale clearing of public land and protected vegetation and habitat. But with the approval for the ILS by the federal government, no state laws apply and no further approval is needed by the state Minister for Crown Lands, Niall Blair.

“The NSW Government has not revealed the date of the transfer of the land to enable the airport to make the application to the Commonwealth. Concerns have been raised as to whether the lease was valid at the time of its approval. The NSW Government passed laws that allowed inconsistent land uses to be validated but it appears the lease was given one month before the legislation was introduced to Parliament.

“Local residents including the Tweed Heads Residents and Ratepayers Association are demanding an inquiry into how this public land could be transferred to a private entity to be destroyed.

“I will take concerns of the community and the Richmond Greens candidate to the Parliament and will ask further questions and present a proposal for an inquiry. It may also be that this is not an isolated issue and that needs to be investigated. The public has a right to know that public land is being managed in the public interest, not to enrich private interests,” concluded Ms Barham.

For comment:
Jan Barham MLC 0447853891
Dawn Walker, Greens federal candidate for Richmond 0411 404 588

See attachment for background information.

Government response to inquiry must deliver action on housing crisis

NSW Greens spokesperson on Housing Jan Barham is urging the Government to follow through with a comprehensive implementation plan on housing affordability after its response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing supported many of the recommendations.

“Although this response has been a long time coming, the NSW Government’s predominately positive responses to the inquiry’s recommendations and acknowledgement of its extensive examination of the issues relating to social and affordable housing is welcome”, said Ms Barham.

“Our inquiry found that there was a clear shortage of affordable and social housing across Sydney and New South Wales. The Government’s support for the provision and maintenance of affordable housing to be a key objective of the state planning system, including support for planning controls such as inclusionary zoning to develop more affordable housing is a positive step forward.”

“It’s essential that the Government now acts to deliver more affordable housing and improve the opportunity for people on low and moderate incomes to find a stable and suitable home close to jobs, education and services. The Government must make it a priority to support the delivery of additional affordable housing supply and maintain existing stock.”

“The Government has also acknowledged that there are already a number of planning instruments available to develop affordable housing within the private market. There is more that can be done to ensure new development delivers a range of housing types and diverse communities, instead of increasing gentrification.”

Some important recommendations were rejected by the Government.

“The opposition to making housing affordability a relevant consideration in disputes regarding excessive site fee increases for residential park residents is unfair. Most park residents are on low incomes and housing affordability should be a key consideration when the NSW Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal considers unfair fee increases.”

“It’s also disappointing the Government rejected a proposal for ten per cent of dwellings in multi-unit properties sold by the state in Sydney to be allocated as affordable housing. Sydney has an acute shortage of social and affordable housing and this recommendation offers a low-cost way of boosting supply.”

“A whole of government approach and better collaboration with Federal and local governments is needed to halt the increasing housing crisis and ensure prospective home owners and renters can secure an affordable home,” Ms Barham said.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Background: Social, Public and Affordable Housing Inquiry report and Government response

Related: Government must back social housing growth with public investment, support services and housing affordability reform

Government must back social housing growth with public investment, support services and housing affordability reform

Photograph of houses

The Greens’ Housing spokesperson, Jan Barham MLC, has welcomed the NSW Government’s commitment to grow social housing supply as a long-overdue response to the state’s housing crisis, but has called on the Government to commit to investment and substantial reforms that are needed to provide affordable and secure housing.

“The Greens welcome the commitment to grow social housing supply and support the community housing sector to increase its capacity. This would be a step toward addressing the neglect social housing has suffered under successive governments. But with 60,000 people currently on the waiting list, overcoming the housing crisis in New South Wales must be a priority across the whole of Government,” Ms Barham said.

“The Government must direct public investment into delivering new social housing supply, in addition to their plan to draw on the capacity of the private and non-government sectors. The Greens announced a housing initiative before the 2015 election to establish an immediate $4.5 billion funding stream for new social and affordable housing, which could be delivered without the sale or redevelopment of public assets. This new funding would add a significant boost to the supply of social and public housing.

“The Government’s approach deliver private developers a windfall from their 70% share of the higher-density redeveloped public housing sites. It’s crucial that state and local governments capture a fair share of the increased value coming from rezoning and redevelopment in all new property developments across the state, and that those funds are reinvested into delivering more social and affordable housing and infrastructure.”

Ms Barham warned that the Government must do more to support existing social housing tenants affected by the proposed redevelopments of older stock.

“The Government must learn the lessons from a history of mishandled relocations, including the ongoing sell-off at Millers Point, that have affected the wellbeing of tenants, many of whom are older or vulnerable. These tenants must be genuinely consulted and supported to minimise the social impacts of displacement and disruption. Tenants deserve the opportunity to age in place, remain in the area where their life is based and maintain their connections to services and social supports.

“It’s important that the Government works to develop regionally-focused models for housing and wrap-around services that address the rise in homelessness by providing additional support and options at the local level. Social housing and the services that support it must meet the specific needs of the locations and the population groups that are most disadvantaged and have the greatest difficulty accessing housing, including Aboriginal people, people with disability, older people and youth. I strongly encourage the Government to work closely with local government and community organisations across all regions,” Ms Barham said.

Ms Barham noted that although a boost of social housing was essential, the social housing system would continue to fall short of addressing need unless all levels of government worked to address the full range of factors affecting housing affordability in Sydney and many regions across the state.

“Even with more social housing, people will continue to face severe problems accessing affordable housing and increased risk of homelessness unless all levels of government address the high housing costs, low rental vacancies and insecure tenure in the private housing market. This includes addressing the tax policies and other factors that are driving speculative investment without improving the supply of new affordable housing,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

People with disability win their right to transport independence in NSW

Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme rally in Macquarie Street

Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson on Disability has applauded the NSW Government’s decision to double the subsidy available to people with disability to help them cover the cost of taxi transport.

“This is welcome news for people with disability in NSW who rely on taxis for transport. It will provide people with the financial assistance needed to be independent in their local communities”, said Ms Barham.

The Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme provides assistance of 50% of the taxi fare up to a maximum of $30 for people with a disability who cannot access public transport. The NSW Government has announced it will increase the cap to $60 and also boost incentives to put more wheelchair accessible taxis on the road.”

“People with disability have campaigned for years to have this subsidy increased, which has been capped at $30 since 1999.”

“In 2013, I put forward a motion calling for an increase to the subsidy, which was supported by the NSW Legislative Council.”

“Last year, I hosted a forum in Parliament to hear from people with a disability who relied on taxis for transport. The message was clear: the subsidy no longer reflected the real cost of using taxis. The high out-of-pocket costs incurred by people who have no other transport option but taxis was preventing them from engaging in employment, education and maintaining their social connections.”

“This increase is especially important for people in regional NSW who often have little or no access to public transport and often pay large taxi fares because of long travel distances.”

The subsidy increase was announced as part of the NSW Government’s response to the Point to Point Transport Taskforce report on taxis, hire cars and ridesharing in NSW.

“I call on the NSW Government to index the subsidy by CPI annually, so that we don’t, once again, see the subsidy eroded over time. I also call on the Government to announce a start date for the increased subsidy to give people with disability certainty and clarity, particularly in light of the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.”

“I congratulate all those who have campaigned to have the Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme increased.”

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Government’s response to the Point to Point Transport Taskforce

Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme

Good progress on mental health follow-up care but better support for patients and carers needed

Jan Barham, NSW Greens MP and spokesperson on Mental Health welcomed today’s Auditor-General’s report on mental health post-discharge care, which found that follow-up care has generally improved across NSW.

“Follow-up care for people admitted to hospital because of a mental health episode such as attempted suicide is critical to ensuring patients’ health and wellbeing once they are discharged”, said Ms Barham.

“I’m pleased that NSW Local Health Districts have improved their rates of post-discharge follow-up and that reporting requirements for LHDs appear to be improving continuity of care for patients.”

Three of the Local Health Districts audited had reached the 70% benchmark for provision of follow-up care within seven days of discharge. Of the remaining two, one had recorded an improvement, but still fell below the benchmark (Sydney, 58%), while Northern NSW had recorded a decline over the past five years, with 60% of patients receiving follow-up care.

“It’s important that Local Health Districts not meeting the benchmark work to ensure patients receive follow-up care. The NSW Government should look at whether these districts need further resourcing to improve care of people once they return to the community.”

The report was critical of health services’ interaction with care recipients who were often not provided with discharge summaries, and many carers and families were not advised of discharges.

“Care recipients must be at the centre of the follow-up care process if we are going to have client-led recovery. Their carers and families must be included every step of the way so that they can support them once they return to their communities.”

“This is particularly important for patients who return to communities outside the Local Health District. Follow-up rates for these patients are as low as 13%. Involvement of families and carers could help address this issue but there also needs to be better coordination between health districts to ensure that continuity of care is achieved.”

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Auditor-General’s report on mental health post-discharge care

Public and Affordable Housing Needs To Be Key In Waterloo Metro Development

NSW Greens Member for Newtown Jenny Leong, which covers the Redfern area, and Jan Barham, Housing spokesperson have responded to today’s announcement that a private Metro station will be built in Waterloo highlighting the serious housing concerns.

Two thousand existing public housing residences will be demolished to make way for the development.

Member for Newtown Jenny Leong says:

“The announcement by the state Government today will see Urban Growth taking over the development of large parts of our Redfern/Waterloo public housing community. This is cause for serious concern – not because redevelopment of public housing isn’t needed, but because Urban Growth’s track record in our area has seen some pretty devastating outcomes – including the selloff of the Australian Technology Park site and massive proposed overdevelopment at North Eveleigh.”

“While we acknowledge the Government’s commitment that the number of social housing dwellings will be maintained in the new development, we need to ensure that these dwellings will continue to house the same number of residents.

“We have seen cases of redevelopment of public housing where the number of dwellings has been maintained but with a significant reduction in size. As a minimum we need a commitment that there will be no reduction in the number of bedrooms or number of residents that can be housed.

“Our community needs a significant investment in affordable housing, which needs to come on top of any commitment to maintain existing public housing.

“Reports suggesting two thirds of the redevelopment will be private and one third social and affordable housing has the priorities wrong – we need to see these figures reversed.

“Urban Growth might pull all the strings when it comes to decisions made by the NSW Government but they do not control this community.

NSW Greens Spokesperson for Housing, Social Housing and Homelessness Jan Barham says:

“With almost 60,000 people on the waiting list for social housing in NSW it’s not enough to maintain existing numbers of social housing properties. The redevelopment around Waterloo is a prime opportunity to provide more inner-city social housing, which allows people experiencing disadvantage to live close to transport and with good access to opportunities for work, education and support services.

“The private rental market in inner Sydney is simply out of reach for people on low and moderate incomes, leaving too many essential workers forced with long commutes and reduced quality of life. The windfall that will come from the private residential components of this development should allow the Government to allocate a higher percentage of the dwellings to be affordable rental housing to accommodate more of these key workers.

“It’s important that the design of this area promotes accessibility and creates housing opportunities for people with disability and older people, for whom much of the existing housing stock is inappropriate.”

“Minister Hazzard’s assurance that existing residents will have the opportunity to transition into new social housing in the area where their life, services and social supports are based is welcome but must be managed appropriately. It’s essential that the Government minimises displacement and disruption for tenants and makes every effort to ensure they maintain their community connections and aren’t forced to move far away due to the lack of suitable housing nearby.”

Further information:

Dan Buhagiar for Jenny Leong 0457 512 649
Jan Barham 0447 853 891

Clearing the Aboriginal land claims backlog must be a NSW Government priority in 2016

The Auditor-General’s latest update on Aboriginal land claims shows that the Government must significantly increase the resources available for Crown Lands to address the backlog and deliver on the promise of land rights, says Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson on Aboriginal Affairs and Crown Lands.

“The Auditor-General’s report on Trade and Investment shows that despite having enacted the Aboriginal Land Rights Act more than 30 years ago, successive governments’ failure to process tens of thousands of claims means that it isn’t delivering the opportunities for economic development and self-determination that should be available to Aboriginal people,” Ms Barham said.

“The Auditor-General’s repeated recommendation to clear this backlog can only be fulfilled if the Government delivers a significant increase in priority and resources for the processing of land claims, along with a constructive and transparent process for negotiating Aboriginal Land Agreements under the land rights amendments passed by the Parliament last year.

“In 2014-15 the number of unprocessed claims rose to more than 28,000, and 754 of those claims have been left unresolved for more than a decade.

“I welcome the Government’s effort to reduce the number of land claims that had been approved but weren’t transferred out of the Department, but there are still 220 approved claims covering land valued at $742 million that must be transferred to Aboriginal ownership as quickly as possible.

“In 2012 the Auditor-General called on the Government to develop a plan for addressing the backlog of Aboriginal land claims. Last year the Parliament passed legislation that will allow the negotiation of voluntary agreements between Government and Land Councils.

“Aboriginal land agreements create the possibility of addressing more than one claim at a time and finding a way forward that is agreeable to all stakeholders, but this framework needs to be backed up by a transparent, inclusive process for proceeding with those negotiations.

“Importantly, the Government must ensure that the 2016 Budget commits the funding and resources required to allow a much greater degree of effort at resolving claims, both through determining them individually and by entering negotiations for land agreements.

Ms Barham called on the new Crown Lands Minister, the Hon. Niall Blair, to reinvigorate the land rights movement in New South Wales and overcome the issues that have undermined the land claims process.

“During the previous Parliament the Government caused unnecessary damage to their credibility and standing with Aboriginal people and organisations by introducing legislation to extinguish land claims relating to coastal lands.

“I’ve been pleased that Minister Blair has engaged far more constructively on these issues since his appointment as Crown Lands Minister. With ongoing commitment and the right processes and resources, he has the opportunity to restore faith in the Aboriginal land rights framework by working hard to address the backlog of claims,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

Auditor-General’s Report Volume Twelve 2015: Trade and Investment

Paris Climate Agreement: New South Wales must enact legislation committing to 1.5 degree limit on warming

Greens MP Jan Barham has welcomed the adoption of strong goals to limit global warming at the United Nations conference in Paris and called on the NSW Government and other parties to support climate change legislation that has already been tabled in Parliament by the Greens.

“Premier Baird and Environment Minister Speakman can no longer sit on the sideline and avoid the issue of climate change. They need to take decisive, strong and transparent action,” Ms Barham said.

“The international agreement to attempt to limits global warming to 1.5 degrees and ensure warming is well below 2 degrees puts the onus onto governments at every level to play their part. The UN conference has recognised that developed countries must lead the way, and it’s clear that the Australian Government’s targets and policies are inadequate.

“New South Wales has the capacity to start a rapid transition to clean energy and reduced emissions across our society and all sectors of the economy.

“Now that there is a clear international commitment to strive for a 1.5 degree limit on warming, we need to lock in action by adopting a legislated target to reach net zero emissions by 2040 and ensuring all government agencies are working with communities and industry to plan the transition that will get us there.

“The Greens have a Bill before the NSW Upper House that would set in place a target of net zero by 2040, require governments to develop the plans for emissions reductions and climate change adaptation, and hold every government agency accountable by giving the public the capacity to initiate legal proceedings against any policies that are contrary to the plans for climate action.

“The Paris Agreement has also recognised the need for governments to address the full range of impacts of global warming, including on health, agriculture, biodiversity and emergency management.

“The community has the right to expect elected governments to be transparent and accountable about how they address their duty of care to current and future generations.

“When Parliament resumes next February, every party should show they’re serious about fulfilling this global commitment by supporting our strong and sensible framework for climate action consistent with aiming for a 1.5 degree limit on global warming.

“The global momentum for action is growing and with an agreement to review progress every 5 years it will only become stronger. Any Government or political party that doesn’t see the writing on the wall for fossil fuels, provide a plan to transition to clean energy and put an end to new coal mining will be undermining our state’s position in the future global economy as well as harming efforts to address climate change.

“This global agreement wouldn’t have happened without the strong movement of activists, campaigners and a growing community movement working for change, by calling on governments and businesses to give up on fossil fuels and embrace the opportunity to transform our society and create new, sustainable industries.

“The Paris Agreement marks the beginning of a new phase in the campaign for climate action, and now the NSW Government must respond with support for genuine efforts and change in our state,” Ms Barham said.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891

The Greens’ NSW Climate Change Bill

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