IN THIS Federal election campaign, UnitingCare Australia is calling on the three major parties to deliver commitments that will contribute to a decent live for every person living in Australia.
UnitingCare Australia’s Key Social Policy Priorities for the 2010 Federal Election includes measures that will address cost of living pressures on low income households; improve the care of older Australians; build a better life for vulnerable children, young people and families; and ensure sustainable social services.
National Director, Susan Helyar, invited the leaders of all three major parties to visit UnitingCare services during the campaign.
“UnitingCare Australia is the largest provider of social services in Australia. We employ 35,000 staff who deliver services to over 2 million people each year in 1,300 sites in every state and territory in remote, regional and metropolitan areas,” Ms Helyar said.
“Our efforts are supported by the work of 24,000 volunteers.
“We have more sites than MacDonalds nationally, and our agencies employ as many people as Australia Post.
“Our agencies work at the coalface of some of the most marginalised communities in the country.
“We know what works. And we know what doesn’t.
“Evidence has shown that well targeted, long-term measures can, and do, turn around the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage in which too many people have been trapped.
“That’s why we are keen for our leaders to visit our services, to see how lives can change with the right support.
“So far in the campaign, there’s been little mention of the issues that are important to our network or to the people who use our services.
“Our election priorities include short-term deliverables, but also make recommendations for longer-term reform on the back of the extensive reviews that have taken place in recent years.
“We will release a report card in the final week of the campaign, assessing the response of the three major parties against our priorities.
“It will be sent to the UnitingCare network and to Uniting Church congregations,” Ms Helyar said.
UnitingCare Australia is looking for commitments from the Australian Labor Party, the Coalition and the Australian Greens to invest in services that will make a lasting difference to the lives of some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people and communities.
We are looking for commitments that address the growing demand for social services and meet the challenges of demographic change.
This is a snapshot of the priorities outlined in UnitingCare Australia’s Key Social Policy Priorities for the 2010 Federal Election:
Care of Older Australians
The aged care portfolio should sit with a Cabinet Minister who can lead long-term reforms. Funding is needed for an independent study into the cost of care.
The 1.75 per cent supplement should be restored from 1 July 2010 as an interim measure to bridge the funding gap for residential and community care.
The accommodation subsidy for concessional residents should match the real cost of providing accommodation and there should be flexible payments options for people able to contribute to the cost of their accommodation.
Children, Young People and Families
Widespread Compulsory Income Management should be scrapped and the funds committed to its administration should be diverted to evidence-based, targeted services that improve the safety and wellbeing of children.
Funding to Family Relationship Centres, diverted to community legal services in the 2010 Federal Budget, should be restored to FRCs.
Extend the location-based funding, planning and evaluation approach of the Communities for Children program to other funding programs.
Increase the Independent Living Allowance for young people leaving out-of-home-care, and develop a national policy framework for 8-14 year olds – the middle years.
Cost of Living Pressures
Increase Newstart Allowance to $275 a week.
Index all income support payments annually in line with the Aged Pension.
Centrelink data matching must ensure people get their just entitlements.
Increase utility allowances.
Provide better access to real education, training, life skills and employment support services for long-term unemployed people.
Sustainable Social Services
Install realistic funding indexation that reflects the increased costs of running services.
Streamline and simplify contracting arrangements.
Restore the Fringe Benefits Tax cap to its original value when it was introduced in 2001.
Government should fund the increased superannuation guarantee levy and the claims currently before Fair Work Australia.
The priorities outlined in UnitingCare Australia’s Key Social Policy Priorities for the 2010 Federal Election are based on the experience and evidence from the UnitingCare network.
Key Social Policy Priorities for the 2010 Federal Election is at: www.unitingcare.org.au.