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’ 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:

Don’t let Gloucester tourism fall victim to coal seam gas

On World Tourism Day, Greens MP and Tourism spokesperson Jan Barham has called on the NSW Government to recognise the importance of tourism to communities such as Gloucester by reconsidering its approval of coal seam gas in the picturesque region.

“Visitors spend around $30 million annually in the Gloucester region, providing jobs for up to 240 people in the tourism sector and supporting many local businesses. Tourism is an increasingly important part of Gloucester’s economy and to jeopardise it through drilling for coal seam gas in the area is risky and short-sighted,” Ms Barham said.

Ms Barham noted that tourism operators are playing a significant role in the local protest against AGL’s plan to commence fracking four wells at their Waukivery pilot project site outside Gloucester. In a submission to the 2011 Parliamentary Inquiry into Coal Seam Gas, Tourism Advancing Gloucester’s (TAG) Thomas Davey wrote that:

‘TAG believes that CSG mining works hard against the scenic beauty of Gloucester, adding a slow uglification to a region long-recognised for its beauty; it destroys productive farming land; and it detracts from the tourism experiences of the town.’

“As the gateway to the World Heritage Listed Barrington Tops, the natural beauty of Gloucester is a key attractor for the region. The tourist operators of Gloucester see the impact this mining project will have on the landscape, along with the risks to air quality and water security, and the Government should act in the region’s long-term interests,” Ms Barham said.

“Although Minister Anthony Roberts’s announcement last Thursday that he was extending the Government’s coal seam gas moratorium is a welcome reprieve for some communities, it doesn’t apply to Gloucester.

“The community opposition to AGL’s coal seam gas project and the risk it poses to tourism mean that the Minister needs to take further action,” Ms Barham said.

“Communities in regional NSW work hard to establish local industries that complement the traditional agricultural basis for their survival.

“We should be supporting the long-term viability of rural communities through tourism instead of threatening their very existence by approving fracking despite the strong protests of the community, including businesses involved in tourism,” Ms Barham concluded.

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

NSW Public Libraries Funding – GIPA Treasure Trove

Recently we received our Government Information (Public Access) request on the 2012 funding review of NSW public libraries. To access the full suite of released documents click here.

We have analysed the documents provided under the GIPA request and developed a short presentation which you can check out by clicking “Start Prezi” below (or by clicking here).

The NSW Legislative Council recently passed my motion on Public Library funding. Watch the video of the debate here.

The text of the motion is below. To read the full debate, click here.

The Hon. JAN BARHAM [10.48 a.m.]: I move:

        (1) That this House notes that:
          (a) libraries are a fundamental part of the educational and cultural vibrancy of community;
          (b) libraries provide life learning and opportunities for social interaction;
          (c) under the terms of the Library Act 1939 the State Library of New South Wales administers the Government’s Public Library Grants and Subsidies program, which provides funding on an annual basis to local authorities to assist in the provision of public library services throughout New South Wales;
          (d) Arts NSW via State cultural institutions manages significant cultural heritage collections and provides services and programs throughout the State, and together these institutions provide a unique and irreplaceable archive of the State’s history and contemporary culture; and
          (e) the Library Act 1939 and the library regulation state that:
            (i) “State and Local Government authorities work collaboratively together to enable public libraries in New South Wales to meet the evolving needs and demands of the community”;
            (ii) the age of a collection is a key consideration when determining the adequacy of a public library;
            (iii) the Library Council of NSW “Age of Collections” standards state that at least 49 per cent of the collection has been purchased in the last five years and 90 per cent of the collection has been purchased in the last 10 years; and
            (iv) the size of a public library’s collection should respond to the changing and growing size of a community.
      (2) That this House notes that:
          (a) in 1939 New South Wales councils were eligible for a subsidy from the Government for the provision of library services, and under section 13 (2) (b) of the original Library Act 1939 the subsidy was set at one shilling per resident within the council area;
          (b) in 1952 the subsidy rate under the Library Act was set at one shilling and sixpence per resident within a council area;
          (c) in 1979-80, $8,478,905 was spent by the Government on public library services while total local government expenditure in 1980 was $27,517,031;
          (d) in 2010-11 expenditure by local government on public library services was $314,284,780, whereas expenditure by the Government was $25,538,000, which includes $2 million for the Country Library Fund; and
          (e) from 1979-80 to 2010-11 the percentage of funding provided by local government to public libraries increased from 74.6 per cent of the total funding on an annual basis to 92.5 per cent, while Government funding decreased from 23.6 per cent to 7.5 per cent on an annual basis.
        (3) That this House calls on the Government to:
          (a) review the subsidy rate of $1.85 prescribed in the Library Regulation 2010 and index the subsidy rate to the consumer price index [CPI]; and
          (b) review restoring Government funding for public libraries from the current 7.5 per cent to 20 per cent.

 

 

 

 

 

FINANCE AND SERVICES—EQUAL REMUNERATION CASE

Ms Barham to the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra—

  1. In paragraph 10 of the Minister for Finance and Service’s submission to the Equal Remuneration Case Fair Work Australia, the Minister states the Government’s policy response to funding cost increases associated with the case would be cutting expenditure on existing government services. Will the Government fund pay equity from Stronger Together II, Keep Them Safe and Brighter Futures budgets?
  2. Are funding budgets for Stronger Together II, Keep Them Safe and Brighter Futures quarantined?

 

Answer—

On 16 May 2011, the Full Bench of Fair Work Australia handed down an interim decision on the first application for an equal remuneration order under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Fair Work Australia has invited further submissions from interested parties on this issue. Further hearings will be held before Fair Work Australia on 8, 9 and 10 August 2011. The Government is currently considering whether it will make a further submission. If so, it will be due 21 July 2011.

The Government will be in a better position to provide informed advice in relation to the issues made by Ms Barham following any final decision of the tribunal.

PREMIER—SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES PACKAGE

Ms Barham to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Hunter, and Vice-President of the Executive Council representing the Premier, and Minister for Western Sydney—

  1. In regard to the priorities established in the Federal Government’s $230 million ‘Sustainable Australia – Sustainable Communities package’:
    1. Considering that population growth in non-metropolitan coastal areas has seen an increase from 4.9 million to 6.8 million people with an average rate of more than 146,000 people a year, is there sufficient focus on regional infrastructure development for New South Wales in this package?
    2. If not, what will the Government do?
  2. What role will the Government play in the Sustainable Regional Development Program which will support strategic assessments under national environmental law in up to seven additional regional and coastal growth areas?
  3. Which regional and coastal growth areas in New South Wales will be assessed under this program?

 

Answer—

The Government is taking an active role in developing a whole-of-government approach to regional infrastructure development. For example, Infrastructure NSW is being established as part of the Government’s 100 Day Action Plan to develop strategic infrastructure planning for NSW.

The Government is committed to engaging with the Commonwealth on funding and delivering optimal infrastructure outcomes for Regional NSW, including through the assessment and allocation of funds under the Federal Government’s “Sustainable Australia-Sustainable Communities’ package.

Climate Change Risk Modelling in State Disaster Plans

STATE DISASTER PLAN
30 May 2011
Page: 17

The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Emergency Services. Will the Minister indicate whether modelling and data from the first pass national assessment on climate change risk to Australia’s coast and associated vulnerability studies will be incorporated in the New South Wales State Disaster Plan and the relevant subplans? What procedures have been put in place to deal with multiple disaster events when agencies have overlapping and duplicate requirements under their separate subplans?

The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: That is an excellent question and the member should be congratulated for so ably representing her constituents on the far North Coast. Her question deserves a detailed answer, which I will provide as soon as I can.

What is Community Resilience?

“Community” is defined as a group of people living in the same locality, and community resilience is about how well that group of people is capable of withstanding and absorbing the challenges of change and/or crisis. In recent times communities have been increasingly exposed to the challenges of crisis. We have seen droughts, fires and floods in our country and, in nearby regions, the impact of earthquakes and tsunamis. It is anticipated with the impacts of climate change there will be additional risk of exposure to emergency situations.

The media have brought into our homes and lives the images of the impacts associated with the disasters and that has reminded us of the importance of community connection and engagement as mechanisms to withstand the dramatic impact of these events. Many of the reports of affected communities remind us of the courage and preparedness of people to help others and this is commendable. But we have also been made aware of the lack of connection and knowledge of our local environments that have determined the ability to support and help those in need and in some cases the fatal consequences of the lack of local connection and community cohesion.

Federal and State governments are now focusing considerable resources on preparing communities for crisis. The term “community resilience” is being used to unite communities in preparing for the likely outcome of crisis. Much has been learnt from disaster management both here and overseas and there are some key understandings of how society can ensure it is capable of withstanding the impacts of disasters. Community development and resilience is now a portfolio area that The Greens New South Wales have adopted and I am pleased to provide a focus in relation to the preparedness of communities.

I intend to present examples of positive community projects that contribute to building social inclusion and cohesion and often involve recreation and cultural engagement. These programs most often involve volunteer participation and encourage diverse groups of people to connect and network under a common interest. It is well documented that social connections and networks are a determinant of community resilience. The principal of resourcing and supporting social connections has an important role in enhancing quality of life in the immediate as well as preparing society to withstand the possibility of disaster and crisis.

The unintended but associated product of social and cultural gathering is the introduction of diverse groups of people to provide them with the necessary connections. Governments collect and collate significant amounts of information that identify the inequities and vulnerabilities that exist in society. The focus in research and emergency management fields promotes community vulnerability mapping as a tool to define communities of high risk or social vulnerability. Once these groups or geographical areas are identified there is potential to target resources to these groups to improve not only their quality of life but also their capacity to be prepared for any crisis. Governments can provide a range of programs to improve community involvement and participation.

I acknowledge the initiatives by the New South Wales Government to support and resource communities to overcome vulnerability. The Community Builders program has provided at-risk groups access to funds for the delivery of programs and projects with an identified disadvantage that can be addressed or have the potential for increasing the social capital of a group. The importance of social connection cannot be overlooked in the strengthening of social networks to enhance resilience. The degree of connection—be it family, friends, social, education or other organisations—is an important source of information, advice and assistance. Government at all levels has an important role in supporting communities to connect and engage in the good times so that they are empowered and informed to respond when risks or disasters are impending or present.

The assistance by government to enhance community involvement should be viewed as an essential pathway to building strong and resilient communities that are able to cope and withstand disaster, crisis and change that challenge the day-to-day functioning of society. The goal to empower and assist communities requires a respect for localised resilience. To build social capital and strong community social structures will require the support of government. Programs that unite community across social and cultural divides are often those that do engage diverse groups of people in positive activities such as landcare, sport, book clubs, community gardens, soup kitchens and other forms of volunteering.

There is a responsibility to prepare the community so that they are able to respond to a potential crisis. Government at all levels can make the process of community development, resilience and preparedness for disaster and crisis more effective by recognising the important role of community projects that build connections and improve quality of life. It is these projects that will enhance in the present and build the strength and capacity for community to withstand and cope with change and crisis if needed in the future.

National Volunteer Week

On behalf of The Greens I make a contribution to the motion of Hon. Greg Donnelly in acknowledgment of National Volunteer Week. I thank the Hon. Greg Donnelly for moving the motion. I place on record the appreciation of The Greens of the enormous contribution made by volunteers in the New South Wales community. Their passion and commitment for supporting their local communities must be recognised and celebrated. Volunteering is an essential part of strong and resilient communities. In my community volunteering in part fills the gaps left by insufficient government funding of services. In a sense volunteers become a safety net. In my inaugural speech last night I commented on how volunteers in rural and regional communities are the glue and that without their work many of the support services in our communities would fall apart. No doubt the Hon. Paul Green will agree with me that from a local government perspective the good work of our volunteers is relied upon.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge some of the great contributions made in my community by volunteers. It was fantastic to hear the Leader of the House acknowledge the young award winners who were present in the gallery today. I have some interesting statistics indicating how many Australians engage in volunteering each year: 5.4 million people. It is nice to see but I suppose not surprising—and I mean no disrespect—that the statistics show that slightly more women than men volunteer. We need to understand why that is happening, and by doing so perhaps more men will take up the challenge of volunteering. We should encourage equity in our contributions and involvement in resilient, vibrant and healthy communities. It is all about health and well-being, and that is what I want to talk about.

On average 1.1 hours a week are volunteered. Busy people say they cannot find the time to volunteer. The theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week is “Inspiring the Volunteer in You”. We must send the message that volunteering gives back to the individual. That is often forgotten. People think that they are too busy to volunteer. But by volunteering one hour a week and meeting wonderful people in their community they also enrich their own lives. As I have heard many times, people who go out into their community and help those in need get so much back. At times we think that life is tough, that we are too busy and we are struggling to cope. But when we know of others who are less fortunate or in greater need, it stops us thinking that way. That awareness is something that money cannot buy.

While I applaud the work of volunteers across New South Wales, I realise that we have to aim higher in terms of increased volunteer participation. In some areas in New South Wales less than 10 per cent of the population contributes voluntary work. I appeal to the Government to continue to review how volunteer work can be supported, encouraged and enhanced. Perhaps it could be done through further grants and assistance, particularly in the regions where transport support may assist people to engage in the community. We have to determine how we can make improvements and provide opportunities for greater participation. I am honoured as an elected representative to be invited to many events in my area and become better informed about my community. When I became mayor I was invited to meetings and events that I had no idea ever took place in my community. I have met with small groups who look after others in the community. They perform work that many of us do not know about, but if they stopped performing that work, we would notice.

Some groups help those less fortunate, for example people who live on the street. Since the global financial crisis, the number of people turning up at soup kitchens and seeking services from regional community centres in my area has increased by 60 per cent. We have to offer more support to those who need assistance and those who provide it. The Volunteering Australia website has information about how business and corporate entities can encourage and support their workers to volunteer during work time. I congratulate the business and corporations who support their employees to contribute in this way. It is a fine way to meet their corporate social responsibility benchmarks by allowing their staff to go out into the community and do good work. When those employees come across others less fortunate, they will have a greater appreciation of the opportunities they have in their lives. It is a valuable lesson.

Members have raised the important work of the State Emergency Service [SES], the Rural Fire Service and emergency rescue workers. I have often heard stories of accidents and emergencies in my area where these people attend all hours of the night and then turn up for work the next day. Sadly, sometimes they have attended accidents where the victims are people they know. It takes enormous strength and resilience to keep doing it and to keep giving back to the community. National Volunteer Week gives us an opportunity to recognise the work of our volunteers. Volunteering should be recognised every single day. We should keep it in focus and support it. The previous Labor Government implemented laudable programs and support for volunteers, such as, providing free national park passes to State Emergency Service volunteers. These small gestures, which do not cost a lot of money, are an acknowledgement of our appreciation and a way of giving back. I encourage the Government to think creatively about providing more support in this way.

We must reflect on current impediments that act as disincentives for people who are currently volunteering or contemplating giving their time to their community. I draw the attention of members to the New South Wales publication “State Electoral Districts Ranked by 2006 Census Characteristics”, which provides interesting data. It shows that country electorates rank high in volunteering. The fact that metropolitan areas are lower ranked deserves our attention. We have to make it easier or more attractive for people in the cities to volunteer in their communities. In many ways, it is easier for people in denser communities to volunteer. In my area a tremendous amount of people provide voluntary work. The average for volunteering in communities is 17.7 per cent of the population. My community is ranked right up at the top with 27 per cent of people engaged in volunteering. Volunteering covers a broad area; there is something for everyone. There is bush regeneration work, as I have done, or working at a soup kitchen or with the Girl Guides, the Rural Fire Service and the Christian Women’s Association [CWA]. I am very proud of the Christian Women’s Association membership in my area.

Mention has been made about cadetship programs. A few years ago organisations in country areas noted the lack of young people amongst their membership. Since then, they have made a concerted effort to attract young people. They have gone to schools to talk to students and encourage them to do volunteer work. In my area, Suffolk Park station was being vandalised. A crew went along to the local school, informed the young people about the importance of community work and encouraged them to become involved. Now a high percentage of young people are volunteering in the community.

The Rural Fire Service brigade leader in Suffolk Park, Greg Miller, won our Volunteer of the Year award last year. I note that our local group went to Queensland to help during the floods. I wish to make special mention of a wonderful friend, Noel McAviney from the State Emergency Service. Noel has volunteered also on committees of the council and is a fantastic person in our community. Both the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service encourage the participation of women as well as young people. Finally, I mention another member of my community who gives his time and energy endlessly, Paul Irwin, a member of the surf life saving organisation and sports association. These wonderful people deserve to be recognised and applauded. I thank the Hon. Greg Donnelly for moving this motion.