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

Background

Royal Commission into violence against people with a disability to be raised at COAG

“I congratulate the NSW Minister for Ageing and Disability Services John Ajaka on his commitment to raise the call for a Royal Commission into violence, neglect and abuse against people with a disability at the next meeting of the Council of Australian Governments”, said Ms Jan Barham, Greens NSW spokesperson for Ageing and Disability.

 

This week, in response to Ms Barham’s question as to whether Minister Ajaka would commit to propose or support through the COAG Disability Reform Council a Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability, the Minister stated that he would ‘raise this question by Ms Jan Barham at the next COAG meeting because this question deserves the respect of all Ministers responsible.”

 

“I am pleased the Minister will be taking this important issue to the next meeting of COAG.”

 

“This week, we heard a report that an estimated 90 per cent of women with an intellectual disability have been the victim of sexual assault. This is a shocking figure and underscores the need for a full investigation into the prevalence of abuse committed against people with a disability in Australia”.

 

Late last year the Australian Senate Inquiry into abuse against people with a disability in institutional settings chaired by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert recommended that there must be a Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect against people with a disability.

 

“All people with a disability have a right to be safe from harm, whether they live in the community or an institutional setting. A Royal Commission would shine a light on abuses committed against people with disability and help address this shocking problem.”

 

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

Jan’s question without notice to the Minister and the Minister’s response: http://bit.ly/1ZuYbZe

Senate Inquiry into violence, neglect and abuse against people with a disability in institutional settings: http://bit.ly/1MBKr9Q

‘Australia’s most shocking statistic: Sexual abuse and domestic violence against women with disabilities’ Ginger Gorman – news.com.au: http://bit.ly/1LA2ws5

National Close the Gap Day

“Today marks ten years since the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee was formed to address the unacceptable gap in health and life expectancy outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous people in Australia”, said Ms Jan Barham, Greens NSW spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs.

“The Close the Gap Campaign aims to close the life expectancy gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by 2030. However, there remains much to do, with the latest Close the Gap Report showing that life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is still around ten years less than that of non-Indigenous people.”

“The latest report shows that Close the Gap indicators must be broadened to include incarceration rates to ensure that a more holistic approach is taken to achieve equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

“The Parliament recently supported my motion calling on the Premier to implement a NSW Close the Gap Strategy for New South Wales to collect meaningful data on incarceration rates, community safety, child removal and disability-related issues. It’s critical that this Strategy is localised so that Indigenous disadvantage can be addressed in all regions and communities across the State, and inform government programs and funding.”

The 2016 Report made clear that Australia must renew efforts to Close the Gap, stating:

“We can and want to be the generation that closes the gap but we must stay the course and keep our attention and resources focused on this goal. The health gap has rightfully been described as a stain on our nation, and this generation has the opportunity and responsibility to remove it.”[1]

More than 1,500 events have been registered to mark National Close the Gap Day today, and 220,000 people have called on governments to take action to achieve health and life expectancy equality for Indigenous people by 2030.

“I congratulate the Close the Gap Steering Committee, its members, supporters of the campaign as well as all organisations that are working with Indigenous communities to eliminate health and life expectancy inequality by 2030.”

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

Jan’s motion calling for a NSW Close the Gap Strategy: http://bit.ly/1nPD6ej

The Close the Gap Steering Committee Progress and Priorities report 2016: http://bit.ly/1Q7MozF

[1] The Close the Gap Steering Committee Progress and Priorities report 2016: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-social-justice/publications/close-gap-progress p.2

Greens call for investigation of Gold Coast Airport PFOS/PFOA soil contamination

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

North Coast Greens MP Jan Barham and Environment spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi have called on the NSW Government to investigate and provide information about the soil contamination involving potentially carcinogenic chemicals at Gold Coast Airport.

Greens Environment spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC said: “This contamination involves the same perfluorocarbon chemicals that affected surface and ground water at the Williamtown RAAF base in the Hunter, affecting fisheries and prompting health warnings and multiple investigations.

“I wrote to the Environment Minister back in October last year seeking information as to whether what happened at Williamtown could happen anywhere else in the State and did not receive a reply. People shouldn’t have to find out about major contaminations by accident.

“I’ve lodged questions on notice in Parliament asking the Environment Minister whether the NSW Government had been informed about this contamination and seeking an investigation of the extent of the contamination and the risks it might pose to the surrounding region.

“The Cobaki Broadwater and its biodiversity deserve protection under the Ramsar Convention so it’s crucial for the Minister to ensure there is no risk to the wetland and the Tweed region.”

Greens North Coast spokesperson Jan Barham MLC said: “The presence of these toxic and persistent chemicals at Gold Coast Airport is a cause for concern in the Tweed region, and the NSW Government needs to provide information to the community.

“I’m troubled that this information has only come to light after the airport’s proposed Instrument Landing System (ILS) was approved and the final Major Development Plan was released.

“The draft plan that was released for public comments last year didn’t mention these chemicals, despite the fact that their use in firefighting was discontinued around 2010.

“In question time today I’ll call on the Minister for Primary Industries, Lands and Water to act to halt the installation of the ILS on NSW Crown Land until a full Environmental Impact Assessment and investigation of the potential impacts have been undertaken.

“The NSW Government has to respond urgently to address the concerns of the Tweed community.”

Contacts for further comment:
– Matt Hilton for Mehreen Faruqi 9230 2625 / 0423 106 247
– Jan Barham 0447 853 891

BACKGROUND:
Questions on notice to Environment Minister
Watch question time 2:30pm-3:30pm today

Tragic death highlights need for 24/7 registered nursing in nursing homes

Traffic warning sign - frail or older people

A Victorian Coroner has found that a 76 year-old woman should have been sent straight to hospital after a fall in a nursing home. The home had no registered nurse on duty at the time and the Coroner described the initial assessments she received by enrolled nurses as “inadequate” and “deficient”.

 

Mrs Ena Vickers suffered a fall at midday on Monday 30 July 2012 and was not seen by a registered nurse until some four hours later. She was then transferred to hospital, where it was found she had suffered fractures and bleeding around her brain. Mrs Vickers died on 4 August 2012.

 

“This is a tragic case that sadly shows what can happen when there is no registered nurse on duty at all times”, said Ms Jan Barham, NSW Greens spokesperson on Ageing.

 

“Although an immediate assessment by a registered nurse and transfer to hospital may not have changed the outcome, it may have reduced any suffering experienced by Mrs Vickers after the fall.”

 

“Because there was no registered nurse on duty at the time of her fall, Mrs Vickers was attended to by personal care assistants and enrolled nurses. I don’t want to downplay the skills of these employees, but the Coroner found that Mrs Vickers should have been examined by a registered nurse or medical practitioner straight after her fall because of the seriousness of the situation.”

 

“Last year I chaired an inquiry into registered nurses in NSW nursing homes, which found that a registered nurse should be on duty at all times so that they can respond to incidents like this one.”

 

“I understand that Mrs Vickers had high-care needs and a history of Parkinson’s and dementia. Our inquiry found that registered nurses are critical in the care of such residents because they can exercise their professional judgement about their clinical care needs.”

 

The NSW Government is currently reviewing its state regulation for nursing homes to have a registered nurse on duty at all times. There is no similar Commonwealth requirement, despite it being the primary regulator of aged care.

 

“I call on the NSW Government to adopt the recommendation made by the NSW Inquiry to have a registered nurse on duty at all times in nursing homes where people have high care needs.”

 

“I also extend my condolences to the family of Mrs Vickers.”

 

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

 

Victorian Coroner’s findings into the death of Mrs Ena Edith Vickers: http://bit.ly/1TcuRH5

NSW Inquiry into Registered nurses in New South Wales nursing homes:
http://bit.ly/1WY8LpS

NSW Upper House calls on Government to pursue a 1.5 degree limit on global warming

Climate Action Now banner

Greens MP Jan Barham has welcomed the Legislative Council’s support for a motion calling for legislation and action to ensure the state contributes to pursuing the aims of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“The Paris Agreement calls for international action to keep global warming well below 2 degrees and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. I congratulate the Government and all other parties for supporting the Greens’ motion, and it’s now essential that the state locks in action to lead the way to achieving the aims of the Paris Agreement,” Ms Barham said.

“The Greens have a Climate Change Bill before the Parliament right now which would commit all NSW Governments, now and into the future, to put us on a trajectory to net zero emissions by 2040, consider the climate impacts in decisions across the whole of government, and provide for judicial review of any actions that would undermine climate action.

“The past two years have each been the hottest on record. The momentum for climate action is building, from the international agreement reached by 195 nations in Paris and in the local households and organisations supporting fossil fuel divestment and the uptake of clean energy.

“It’s time for the NSW Government to support the community and businesses who are working to play their part in limiting global warming, and to lock in the policies that will put the whole of our society on track to address climate change.”

Ms Barham’s motion noted not only the international agreement that was reached in Paris but the many commitments and actions made by sub-national governments, cities and corporations to support the aims of the Paris Agreement.

“States and territories around the world are crucial to delivering the action on climate change that is required to keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius,” Ms Barham said.

“Already in 2016, Wales has passed legislation that commits to long-term emissions targets and putting sustainability front and centre in all government decision-making, and Victoria’s independent review of its climate legislation has made strong recommendations for emissions reduction targets and a Climate Charter.

“New South Wales can deliver strong climate action and the passage of this motion puts the onus on the Government to ensure that we do,” Ms Barham concluded

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

The Greens NSW Climate Change Bill

Motion by Jan Barham MLC as passed by the NSW Legislative Council, 25 February 2016

1. That this House notes that:
(a) on 12 December 2015, an agreement was adopted by consensus of the 195 nations, including Australia, who participated in the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Framework Convention on Climate Change,
(b) the Paris Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to climate change by:
(i) holding the increase in global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,
(ii) increasing capacity for climate change adaptation and fostering climate resilience and low-emissions development, and
(iii) making finance flows consistent with the pathway toward low-emissions and climate-resilient development, and
(c) the Agreement will open for signature with a signing ceremony at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 22 April 2016 and will take effect when at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions have ratified the Agreement.

2. That this House notes that in addition to the agreement by nation states, the Paris Conference saw significant involvement from regional governments, cities and business organisations, including:
(a) the release of the first Disclosure Report of the Compact of States and Regions, which brings together 44 sub-national governments, including the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia, who have committed to set emissions reduction targets and report their annual performance,
(b) the addition of 43 new signatories to the Under 2 MOU, an agreement of sub-national governments to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, bringing the total number of signatories to 123 jurisdictions, and
(c) the announcement that 53 major global corporations, including BMW, Google and Coca-Cola, have joined the RE100 initiative and made commitments to source 100% of their electricity from renewable energy.

3. That this House notes that since the signing of the Paris Agreement there have been further commitments and actions from governments, businesses and individuals, including:
(a) the signing of the Paris Pledge for Action, a statement of support for the Paris Agreement and commitment to work to ensure the Agreement’s aims are met or exceeded, by more than 400 businesses, 120 investors, and 150 cities and regions representing 700 million people and $US11 trillion,
(b) the addition of four more signatories to the Under 2 MOU, including the US state of Massachusetts, the Colombian regional governments of Guainia and Guaviare, and Lower Austria, and
(c) the Welsh National Assembly’s passage on 2 February 2016 of the Environment (Wales) Bill, which sets long-term and interim targets for significant emissions reductions and provides that sustainable management of natural resources must be a core consideration in decision-making, and
(d) the completion of the Independent Review of the Climate Change Act 2010 in Victoria, which:
(i) took into consideration the Paris Agreement, the Victorian Government’s commitment to restore Victoria as a climate change leader and the increasing importance of sub-national governments and non-state actors in taking climate action, and
(ii) delivered 33 recommendations including setting a long-term emissions reduction target and enabling interim targets at five-yearly intervals, introducing a Charter of Climate Change Objectives and Principles that must be taken into account by the Government when preparing climate change strategies and in all plans, policies, programs and operational decisions across government, and providing broad standing for judicial review of administrative decisions that may have climate change impacts or risks.

4. That this House calls on the New South Wales Government to take action to support the aims of the Paris Agreement, including by implementing legislation and policies that will place New South Wales on a pathway to leadership in pursuing the aims of the Paris Agreement.

Submission on the Management of NSW Public Housing Maintenance Contracts

Photograph of houses

As the spokesperson on Housing and Homelessness, Jan has lodged The Greens NSW Submission to the NSW Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee Inquiry into the Management of NSW Public Housing Maintenance Contracts. The submission was produced in consultation with our Housing Working Group and elected Greens representatives who have worked to support public housing tenants in their community when faced with maintenance issues and related concerns.

You can view or download the full submission as a PDF document.

The submission highlights the following key points:

  1. Housing is an important contributor to the wellbeing of people, households and society
  2. Poor maintenance of public housing is harming tenants’ wellbeing
  3. Maintenance funding shortfalls and the absence of strategies for managing the public housing portfolio have undermined the capacity, quality and sustainability of NSW public housing
  4. Maintenance policies and processes are a common source of tenant frustration, dissatisfaction and complaints

It makes the following recommendations:

  1. That the NSW Government acknowledge that the extent of the housing crisis and its impact on the wellbeing of individuals, households and society requires urgent action across all levels of government to deliver solutions across the full continuum of the housing system.
  2. That the Government acknowledges the importance of housing quality and state of repair to the wellbeing of tenants and ensure Housing NSW and Land and Housing Corporation policies about their obligations as landlord and property manager incorporate supporting and promoting tenants’ wellbeing as a key obligation.
  3. That the Government sets strong, clear targets for improvement in the proportion of public and Aboriginal housing dwellings that are of acceptable standard and directs sufficient investment and action to maintenance and upgrades for all dwellings that are not of acceptable standard.
  4. That the Government outlines a timeline and a detailed plan to ensure that in future they will fully comply with all of their statutory obligations and standing as a model litigant with respect to maintenance and repairs of public housing.
  5. That the Government finalises and releases its Asset Portfolio Strategy, which was originally due to be completed by the end of 2013, as a matter of urgency.
  6. That the Government, in recognition of the ongoing maintenance shortfall in the LAHC budget, prioritises the allocation of sufficient funding to clear the backlog and ensure public housing stock is of an appropriate standard to ensure the wellbeing of tenants and prevent further delays in maintenance or sales of social housing properties to pay for maintenance.
  7. That the Government ensure that any new maintenance policies, processes and contractual arrangements are carefully designed and receive continual evaluation to ensure that they:
    • are responsive to tenants’ needs and prioritise issues that affect the health and wellbeing of tenants, and
    • maximise value for money and efficiency while ensuring the quality and timeliness of work.

Heritage listing for Sirius an opportunity for a social housing win-win

Sirius Apartment Building image by Marek Lambert (Allshots Imaging)

Sirius Apartments 3/4 View by Marek Walter (Allshots Imaging)

Greens MP and Housing spokesperson Jan Barham MLC has welcomed the Heritage Council’s recommendation that the Sirius Apartment Building in The Rocks be listed on the State Heritage Register and is calling on the Government to act urgently to deliver certainty about its future.

“As soon as Parliament resumes, I will introduce a motion calling on the Government to act on the Heritage Council’s recommendation and list Sirius on the State Heritage Register,” Ms Barham said.

“I will also call on the Government to provide for people’s wellbeing by allowing Millers Point residents to relocate into this purpose-built social housing.

“The Government has the opportunity to deliver a win-win for social housing: older and vulnerable Millers Point tenants will have the opportunity to remain connected to their community, and quality inner-city public housing is maintained.”

Ms Barham noted that the NSW Legislative Council had supported a motion in June 2015 acknowledging the significance of the Sirius Building and calling for its protection, along with the expansion of the Sirius model for social housing.

“The Heritage Council’s acknowledgement that Sirius is of state significance and should be protected is something the Minister for Heritage should act on immediately, given that the Government has already supported a resolution recognising the need for protection.

“The Government should never have included Sirius in the planned sell-off of public housing. Unlike the Millers Point housing with its maintenance and access issues, Sirius is less than 35 years old and was designed and built for use as public housing.

“The Social Housing Minister should take this opportunity to ensure this significant part of Sydney’s heritage continues to be used to provide housing for those who need it,” Ms Barham concluded.

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

Background

Postcard featuring photo of Sirius

Postcard produced for ‘Getting Serious About Sirius’ November 2014 forum hosted by Jan Barham MLC and Sophie Cotsis MLC – 1979 photo supplied with the permission of FACS NSW.

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