Service coordination inquiry shows the need for a plan to promote wellbeing across NSW

Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson on Community Resilience, has welcomed the report of a Parliamentary inquiry into service coordination in communities with high social needs.

“Government’s fundamental responsibility is to promote the wellbeing of all people and communities across the state. The recommendations of the inquiry into service coordination offer some important ways to improve their capacity to deliver on that responsibility, to improve our understanding of the challenges and to ensure services address the disadvantage and vulnerability in our society,” Ms Barham said.

“Over recent years I’ve put information on the record many times about the growing evidence about how deep disadvantage has become entrenched in communities within Sydney’s suburbs and regional areas. To ensure all people have opportunities and don’t face barriers to success, we must understand the causes of these issues and deliver the full range of effective, coordinated services that are needed.”

Ms Barham welcomed recommendations to develop a plan for greater use of data that provide indicators of community wellbeing, and to collect evidence about service program outcomes.

“The public, service providers and elected representatives all need access to information about how we are faring as a society and within our local communities, across the broad range of issues that determine our quality of life.

“In 2014 I introduced a Wellbeing Indicators Bill that would provide the framework to produce this information in New South Wales. I strongly encourage the Government to take a comprehensive approach to measuring and reporting on community trends and outcomes, as well as ensuring the services delivered to communities are able to identify the impact they are having on people’s wellbeing.”

Ms Barham also noted the inquiry’s recommendations to provide greater certainty and continuity for service providers and their clients.

“The social service sector has faced unpredictability and, in some cases, outright turmoil, as a result of the State and Federal Governments’ budget cuts, short-term contracts, rushed tendering processes and interim funding arrangements.

“I urge the NSW Government to learn from the shortcomings of earlier processes such as Going Home Staying Home and to take on board the recommendations of this inquiry about minimum five-year funding periods and longer lead-in periods for tendering processes.

“We’re capable of addressing the inequality and disadvantage in our society, with government and non-government services providing support and opportunity where it is needed. This inquiry hasn’t provided all of the solutions but its messages about the importance of improving coordination and focussing on indicators of wellbeing are ones that can make a huge difference if the Government is willing to act,” Ms Barham concluded.

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

Final Report, Service coordination in communities with high social needs

Wellbeing Indicators Bill 2014

Speech introducing the Wellbeing Indicators Bill

Greens welcome Shelter NSW proposals to address housing affordability and wellbeing

Jan Barham, Greens MP and Housing spokesperson, has welcomed Shelter NSW’s 2016 budget proposals as a reminder to Government that urgent and comprehensive action is needed on housing.

“Addressing the housing crisis in NSW requires a coordinated approach from the Government that addresses all of the factors affecting general housing affordability for buyers and renters, while ensuring the wellbeing of those who are most vulnerable to gaps in our housing system,” Ms Barham said.

“A long-term boost in social and affordable housing is essential to ensure that people on low and moderate incomes will have the opportunity to live in housing that is suited to their needs and close to their essential work and educational opportunities.

“The Government’s proposed Social and Affordable Housing Fund to deliver $1 billion of new supply is a welcome start but won’t be enough to produce the necessary, enduring growth in affordable housing.

“These proposals from Shelter NSW, including a 10-year social housing boost, 15% affordable housing requirements in all high density developments and developer contributions to ensure a share of the windfalls from rezoning are invested back into affordable housing, offer a pathway to deliver significant growth in social and affordable housing for years to come.

“Reforms to taxation and tenancy laws are also needed to reconfigure the housing system from being driven by speculative investment to being focused on the importance of everyone having a secure home.

“The proposal to broaden the base of land tax would promote the efficient use of our available property and could allow a transition away from stamp duty, which is inefficient and a disincentive to downsizing.

“Removing “no cause” evictions as part of the current review of tenancy laws would provide renters with greater security of tenure and improved wellbeing.

“The proposals also identify key investments that are needed to address areas of housing disadvantage and inequity, including through ensuring homelessness services can reach all people in need, delivering the housing for people with disability that will not be provided through the NDIS, and expanding the capacity of the Aboriginal housing sector.”

Ms Barham noted that the NSW Government had still failed to respond to a comprehensive inquiry into social, public and affordable housing whose recommendations were delivered in September 2014.

“The Government has missed multiple deadlines to develop and deliver the housing policies they need, and our parliamentary inquiry handed them a blueprint for many of the changes that are required.

“I welcome the housing sector’s ongoing efforts to show the NSW Government what can and must be done, and the Greens urge the Government to get serious about delivering a coordinated plan that addresses all of the factors undermining housing affordability in New South Wales,” Ms Barham concluded.

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

Housing Everyone: 10 proposals for the 2016 state budget and beyond

Final Report of the Inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing

Call to improve employment rates and stamp out abuse on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

NSW Greens MP and Disability Spokesperson Jan Barham has called for more action to improve employment rates and housing for people with disability and end violence, abuse and neglect committed against people with a disability on today’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

“If we are to have true inclusion of people with disability, we must work towards improving the employment rate of people with disability. Only one in two people with a disability in NSW are in the labour force compared with four in five people without a disability”, said Ms Barham.

Recent figures show that the number of employees with a disability in NSW government departments has fallen to just 2.9% from 4.8% in 2009.

“These figures are shocking, and show that the NSW public service – the largest employer in Australia – is going backwards in employment of people with disability. The NSW public service should be leading the way to improve employment rates of people with a disability.”

“These figures are also disappointing in light of the NSW Government’s Disability Inclusion Plan’s goal to support access to meaningful employment for people with a disability.”

Affordable and accessible housing is also key to achieving equality of opportunity for people with a disability.

“People with a disability should be able to live in the community in affordable housing which meets universal design principles. The National Disability Insurance Agency estimates that there will be a national shortfall of 122,000 suitable homes for people with a disability once the National Disability Insurance Scheme is fully operational. The NSW Government must ensure that there is sufficient accessible social housing, and other forms of affordable housing to meet demand.”

Ms Barham also backed the Australian Senate Committee Inquiry recommendation for a Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings.

“Violence, abuse and neglect of people with a disability is totally unacceptable. The Senate Committee Inquiry showed unequivocally that we, as a nation, have failed to keep people with a disability safe from harm.”

“A Royal Commission would allow collection of better data on the extent of abuse and neglect of people with a disability as well as investigation into cases within institutions.”

“We need to create true equality of opportunity for people with a disability by removing barriers in society to full participation. The NSW Government should renew its focus on achieving the goals outlined in its Disability Inclusion Plan, with particular attention to improving workforce participation and affordable housing for people with a disability.”

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

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

ABS statistics on Disability and Labour Force Participation (2012)

State of the NSW Public Sector 2015

NSW Disability Inclusion Plan

The Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee report on Violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings

Productivity Commission report a wake-up call for the NSW Government to improve affordable housing for older people

The Productivity Commission’s report on the Housing Decisions of Older Australians released today is a wake-up call for the NSW Government to improve housing affordability for older people.

“The Productivity Commission highlights that older people are constrained in their housing choices because of a lack of age-appropriate housing, and, to some degree, inefficient taxes such as stamp duty”, said Greens spokesperson for Housing and Ageing Jan Barham.

“There is a lack of age-appropriate housing in NSW, which discourages downsizing and sees some older people prematurely enter nursing homes because their home is inaccessible. This issue was identified by both the inquiry into Social, public and affordable housing and the inquiry into Registered nurses in NSW nursing homes.”

“Stamp duty presents another barrier to downsizing and the NSW Government should explore ways of removing this inefficient tax to facilitate smarter use of housing supply.”

“Of great concern is the increasing number of older people who live in private rental, with 220,000 older Australians renting privately. Up to 45% of older private renters are in housing stress, where they pay more than 30% of their income in rent alone. Older renters in New South Wales face insecure tenure, which can have a huge detrimental impact on their health and wellbeing.”

Ms Barham said this report highlights a disconnect between housing and aged care policies as well as a lack of planning at a state level in preparing for an ageing population.

“The NSW Government must invest in a range of affordable and age-appropriate housing options for both older homeowners and private renters so that they can age in place. NSW must increase social housing supply, targeting areas of highest demand, but also explore other options such as increasing supply of independent living units and improving consumer protections in, and affordability of, retirement villages.”

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

The Productivity Commission Report on the Housing Decisions of Older Australians

Inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing Recommendations and Final Report

Inquiry into Registered nurses in New South Wales nursing homes

Renters Rights – Jenny Leong, Greens MP and Rental Tenancies Spokesperson

Report confirms more needs to be done to keep children safe

“An Auditor General report released today shows that the NSW Government is still failing to meet its obligations to children and young people at risk of serious harm and those in out-of-home care”, says Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson for Family and Community Services.

“The report shows that while there has been some improvement in the monitoring of foster care placements, the Department of Family and Community Services is still not meeting key requirements designed to keep children safe.

“Although there has been a marked improvement in the number of annual placement reviews of children in out-of-home care, 23.5% of placements went without a review in 2014/15.

“This raises the question as to whether the Department is adequately resourced to meet its legislated requirement to conduct one review every 12 months for these vulnerable children and young people.”

Ms Barham also commented on the report’s findings about caseworker assessment of children reported at risk.

“The number of face-to-face assessments for children at risk of serious harm remains disappointingly low, with only 28% receiving a face-to-face response from a caseworker.

“These assessments have hovered around 26% and 28% since 2013, suggesting that more resources are needed to improve contact with the 73,432 children and young people reported at risk of serious harm.

“The low rate of face-to-face assessments and annual placement reviews calls into question whether there are enough caseworkers funded to meet the Government’s child protection obligations. Only 5% of caseworker vacancies went unfilled in 2014/15, yet there remain significant shortfalls in placement reviews and face-to-face assessments.”

“Even if all caseworker vacancies were filled, the figures suggest that the Department would still be grossly under-resourced to fulfil its responsibilities to children and young people in the child protection system.

“The NSW Government must boost resources to the Department of Family and Community Services so it can meet its obligations to keep children and young people safe from harm. However, more needs to be done to curb the high number of children entering the child protection system in the first place. The NSW Government must invest in early intervention and support services to better support families and prevent abuse and neglect, and alleviate pressure on an overburdened child protection system,” Ms Barham said.

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

You can read the Auditor General’s report here

South Australia’s net zero ambition is an example New South Wales should outdo

NSW Greens MP Jan Barham has welcomed the South Australian Government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050 and has called on all parties in NSW to support ambition and accountability to address climate change.

“States and territories can lead the way on climate action, and with the federal government holding to inadequate targets it’s important that they do,” Ms Barham said.

“I commend the South Australian Government for commissioning the Low Carbon Economy Expert Panel’s report, and for taking on board the clear advice that we can and must transform to a zero emissions society in the next few decades.

“New South Wales needs similar ambition and commitment. The Climate Change Bill that I’ve introduced into Parliament would mandate a target of net zero emissions by 2040, and put in place the planning framework and legal accountability to ensure current and future governments keep us on target.”

Ms Barham noted that the Baird Government had failed to show leadership or take responsibility for climate action.

“Unfortunately the Premier didn’t lodge the submission his environment department had prepared calling for stronger federal targets for post-2020 emissions reductions. The NSW Government has also been quick to talk down the possibility that the state could meet requirements the Greens’ legislation would set in place.

“Will NSW Labor show the same commitment to lock in strong climate action as their South Australian counterparts?” Ms Barham asked.

“Climate science has made clear for decades that we need to limit global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions rapidly. Experts in energy and other sectors have shown that the transformation is not only possible, but that the benefits of acting early are great and the failure to act brings with it significant risks and costs.

“It’s disappointing that the NSW Government continues following the pessimistic line pushed by vested interests rather than recognising the capacity and power of our people and industries to act.

“The United Nations conference in Paris is just days away and every community, organisation and government at every level should be contributing to global action. This isn’t just a matter for the Australian Government, especially when their actions have undermined international efforts. At state level, every party should be backing sensible emissions targets and legislation to deliver on climate action,” Ms Barham concluded.

Background

NSW Government on Climate Change Bill: Low on ambition, high on pessimism, and unwilling to take responsibility

Greens MP Jan Barham has said the NSW Government’s opposition to legislation that would lock in sensible climate action shows their rhetoric fails to match their

“The Climate Change Bill I introduced to the NSW Parliament would hold the current and future NSW Governments accountable for delivering action to reduce emissions and prepare for climate change across the whole of government.

“The Baird Government’s alarmist claims in opposing the Bill show that despite all their talk about wanting to be a leader in renewable energy, they’re not serious about doing what’s necessary to ensure the future wellbeing and success of this state,” Ms Barham said.

The Greens’ legislation would mandate a target of net-zero emissions by 2040, with every Government required to produce four-year plans for emissions reductions and climate change adaptation. Governments would be accountable for following through on their plans through annual reporting and the possibility of legal proceedings against decisions that would decrease the state’s ability to meet its targets.

“In defending its record on climate change, the Government pointed to its Energy Savings Scheme, which they say will deliver emissions reductions of 1.9 million tonnes by 2020. That’s less than 1.5% of the state’s annual emissions. They’re tinkering around the edges when we need dedicated action across the whole of government to drive the transition to a clean society and economy,” Ms Barham said.

Ms Barham accused the Government of failing to adequately consider the risks and costs facing the state without significant emissions reductions starting immediately.

“On the same day that a new Climate Council report told us that the fire season has extended by almost 19% since 1979 and that the number of professional firefighters would need to double by 2030 to meet demand, the Government tried to claim that it was the Greens’ legislation that would create problems for emergency services.

“We’re capable of making the changes needed to limit global warming and prepare for the impacts of climate change, and by acting now New South Wales would be seizing the opportunity to establish new jobs and industries while reducing the future costs and risks. The Greens’ RenewAustralia plan shows how Australia can reach 90% renewables by 2030, and we could take the lead in this state.

“It’s unfortunate that Mike Baird’s Government shows the same lack of political will as his federal counterparts. Instead of seizing the opportunity and leading with ambition, he has fallen back on the same scare tactics and wants to avoid responsibility for addressing climate change,” Ms Barham concluded.

Background

Greens’ Climate Change Bill is a chance for Baird to show leadership ahead of Paris

Climate change legislation introduced into NSW Parliament today challenges the NSW Premier to show the climate leadership that is lacking in Australian politics, says the Greens’ Jan Barham MLC.

“I’ve introduced legislation that would commit current and future governments in New South Wales to strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change,” Ms Barham said.

The Greens’ Climate Change Bill 2015 sets an emissions reduction target of net zero emissions by 2040, consistent with the level of action needed to limit global warming and avoid the most dangerous impacts.

The legislation requires governments to develop four-year plans for emissions reductions and climate change adaptation, and ensures that every department and council takes action consistent with addressing climate change, with legal action possible to prevent decisions and actions that would undermine the state’s action on climate change.

“This legislation is about the fundamental issue of getting all parties to agree that every government – current and future; federal, state and local – has a responsibility to their citizens and to future generations to address climate change,” Ms Barham said.

“Mike Baird can change the conversation by acknowledging that our state can make the transition away from fossil fuels and toward a zero emissions future, consistent with international agreements and the scientific evidence.”

Ms Barham also noted that a NSW Government submission to the federal consultation on post-2020 emissions targets, obtained under freedom of information laws, showed the importance of addressing climate change for the future of the state.

“The NSW Government’s own analysis recognised that without significant emissions cuts, climate change will have very significant impacts on farming, tourism, on communities across the state and on human health and emergency services.

“Despite knowing about the growing risks of climate change for more than 25 years, too many governments have squandered their opportunities to act. Continuing with weak national targets will increase the threat to future generations unless the states take responsibility to act now.

“Malcolm Turnbull has committed to maintain the weak and ineffective policies of his predecessor. As it stands, Australia will be seen as a developed country that does not have the courage to make decisions in the best interests of its citizens.

“Around the world, sub-national governments are stepping up to make a significant contribution on climate change and a Compact of States and Regions has been established. This Bill presents the opportunity for innovation, and to ensure the health and wellbeing of the environment and the people as we prepare for an uncertain future.

“It is the fundamental responsibility of Government to prepare for threats to the welfare of their citizens. I’m calling on all parties to support this legislation that will lock in a plan for meeting that responsibility,” Ms Barham concluded.

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

BACKGROUND:

Labor’s Lot 490 proposal shows outrageous disregard for Aboriginal land claim

The Labor Party has undermined Aboriginal Land Rights in the Tweed by introducing legislation that would affect a land claim, says North Coast Greens MP and spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs and Crown Lands, Jan Barham MLC.

Ms Barham’s comments follow the introduction into NSW Parliament by Labor’s Walt Secord MLC of a Bill that would reserve Lot 490 as a regional park.

“This significant and environmentally sensitive area is currently protected from development by Tweed Byron Local Aboriginal Land Council’s land claim, which is one of thousands across the state waiting to be finalised. The legislation introduced by NSW Labor shows no regard for the importance of that claim,” Ms Barham said.

“Any announcement on the end use of the land is premature, and it undermines the intent of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act to provide self-determination and compensation for the traditional owners and custodians of the land.

“A recent public land forum I hosted in the Tweed heard from Tweed Byron Land Council’s Leweena Williams and local conservationists about the ecological significance of Lot 490.

“It’s important to note that Aboriginal land claims can include conditions such as easements for public access to areas such as the beach. Once a land claim is granted, the Government can also negotiate for the reservation or dedication of lands for the purpose of nature conservation.

“Labor has disregarded the fundamental importance of Aboriginal land rights and the need for self-determination and negotiation with the Aboriginal community. This Bill mustn’t proceed until the land claim has been determined, and I call on the Government to ensure the claim is resolved as quickly as possible.

“I have continued to press the Government to clear the backlog of unresolved Aboriginal land claims. The Greens strongly support Aboriginal land rights and the need to prioritise Aboriginal communities’ ownership and custodianship of land.”

Ms Barham noted that Lot 490 had a long history of being earmarked for development by both local and state governments and called for the importance of both the Aboriginal land claim and the environmental and cultural values of the site to be respected.

“The Greens recognise the strong community support for ensuring the land is protected from inappropriate private development and we know how important it is that the area’s threatened species and biodiversity are protected.

“It was Labor’s Tony Kelly who removed Tweed Shire Council as trustees of the Crown reserve in 2004 and then proposed leasing the site for a major development by Leighton Holdings, which thankfully fell through.

“For Labor to claim that they are the environmental protectors of the Tweed defies belief, and for them to undermine Aboriginal land rights in the process is disgraceful,” Ms Barham concluded.

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

Auditor-General’s report gives Government another reminder that they need to deliver on social housing

The NSW Government has again been called on to deliver policies and programs to ensure the social housing system delivers better outcomes for people in need of housing assistance, says Jan Barham, Greens MP and Housing spokesperson.

“Today’s report by the Auditor-General on community housing recommends that the Government deliver a comprehensive social housing policy and make public its plan for managing public housing assets. After delaying for far too long, it’s time for the Government to act and fix our social housing system,” Ms Barham said.

“This is the third major report to give clear directions about what the Government needs to deliver, following the Parliamentary Inquiry we established in 2014 and a previous Auditor-General’s report in 2013. The Government has failed to meet every deadline it has been given, and it’s time for them to deliver.”

Ms Barham noted that the Auditor-General had also identified that Government needed to improve its handling of transfers to community housing by developing clear performance measures and contracts that ensure the future growth of the sector.

“The Auditor-General notes that there has been strong growth in the community housing sector, which is welcome. Community housing providers across the state are an important part of our housing system, providing not just shelter but connecting disadvantage and vulnerable people with support services that help to improve the quality and stability of their living arrangements,” Ms Barham said.

“Our Parliamentary inquiry had identified the importance of long term leases when public housing is transferred to community housing providers, along with the need for improved tenant outcomes, and the Auditor-General has reinforced these recommendations.

“Community housing providers need to be able to leverage the assets to deliver new social housing. The Government must ensure that their relationships and contracts with community housing providers will secure quality housing and support services for as many people as possible,” Ms Barham concluded.

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

BACKGROUND:

Auditor General’s Performance Audit Report on Community Housing

Inquiry into Social, Public and Affordable Housing Recommendations and Final Report

Making the Best Use of Public Housing

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