Rural scene

Justice and disadvantage? Just add rurality….

20 October 2014  |  

People living in regional, rural and remote areas face barriers in accessing justice that can lead to life-changing repercussions. Catherine McFaul argues that justice policies need to include a focus on the issues rural and regional people face. People’s ability to access justice transverses the spectrum of political persuasions, weaving through legislature and systems of government, and influences people’s connection to their community, health and wellbeing, often with life-changing repercussions. This is particularly so for rural Australians, who face geographic barriers in access to, ... Read More

By under Justice, Justice, Rural and regional
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Governments under-invest in natural disaster mitigation: Productivity Commission

17 October 2014  |  

The Australian Government’s Productivity Commission’s recently released Natural Disaster Funding Draft Report argues that a greater focus on mitigation would limit the impact of natural disasters, and the Australian Government should increase mitigation funding to the States. The report finds that the evolution of natural disaster funding arrangements is characterised by a ‘growing generosity’ by the Australian Government during the previous decade, followed by a swing to constrain costs and increase oversight after the recent concentrated spate of costly disasters. It states that natural ... Read More

By under Climate change, Emergency management
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EWOV Annual Report

Energy retailers need to lift their game to prevent disconnections

16 October 2014  |  

Today, more than 300 people will phone the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria (EWOV) with a complaint about their energy retailer. Sixty of them will be calling about a payment issue, and 35 of them will have been threatened with disconnection or already been disconnected. Energy retailers tell us, time and time again, that the main reason people get disconnected is because they don’t actually tell the retailer that they are having trouble paying, or respond to reminder or disconnection notices. “Sixty per cent of people do not engage at all with the retailer before being disconnected” ... Read More

By under Concessions, cost of living, Energy and Water, Essential Services
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We need action to keep people safe during heatwaves

15 October 2014  |  

Every year in Victoria heatwaves kill more people than all other natural disasters combined. Yet heatwaves are not included in the State’s emergency management plans – potentially putting more lives at risk. VCOSS has continually warned of the impact of heatwave on vulnerable Victorians, and has long called for heatwave to be included in Victoria’s emergency management arrangements and to be considered a state level emergency. The Victorian Auditor General ‘s report, Heatwave Management: Reducing the Risk to Public Health,tabled in Parliament this week, has agreed with VCOSS, finding that ... Read More

By under Emergency management
Gas cooker

Looming gas price rise needs action to protect low-income groups

15 October 2014  |  

Sixteen years ago, an explosion at Esso’s Longford gas plant and the consequent three-week shutdown of the gas network reminded most Victorians of their heavy reliance on having gas piped into their homes to fuel essential appliances. Gas was cheap and almost ubiquitous, and the flexibility of gas cooking and affordable reliability of gas heating and hot water was taken for granted by those who had it, and envied by many of the few who didn’t. Nothing much has changed. Victorians still love their gas, with over 80 per cent of households having a mains gas connection. These households, on ... Read More

By under cost of living, Energy and Water, Essential Services
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Cover the Costs

Still no solution for loss of EMA

14 October 2014  |  

Recent media commentary regarding a lack of clarity about the funding for Victorian schools as part of the Gonksi deal is disheartening. The Gonski reforms were meant to make funding more rather than less transparent. Additionally, in Victoria the government traded away the Education Maintenance Allowance to fund part of its commitments. It now appears that many students facing disadvantage may be short changed twice – missing out on additional school funding and losing their entitlement to the Education Maintenance Allowance. For more than 20 years, the EMA has helped low-income families ... Read More

By under Education, Education, EMA
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Making mental health an election priority

6 October 2014  |  

With Mental Health Week upon us, VCOSS is joining the community mental health sector in giving a voice to the thousands of Victorians living with mental illness, their families and carers, who are at risk of falling through the gaps and missing out on community mental health services and support in a reformed system. The Lifting the Lid on Mental Health Alliance represents 20 mental health organisations, led by the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC -the peak body for mental health consumers in Victoria), Tandem (the peak body for families and carers of people with mental health ... Read More

By under Advocacy, Health and wellbeing, State Politics
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UnitingCare Asylum Seekers report

Delivering emergency relief to asylum seekers in the community

3 October 2014  |  

Robert Gruhn is Public Policy and Advocacy Officer at the UnitingCare Victoria and Tasmania, a network of 26 community service agencies within the Uniting Church, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. In today's post he outlines new research on the significant disadvantage faced by asylum seekers living in the community on bridging visas and in community detention. (more…) ... Read More

By under Advocacy
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Youth diversion: What Victoria needs

2 October 2014  |  

  Smart Justice for Young People launched a youth diversion video in April to highlight the value and importance of diversion for young people in the justice system. The following is an edited excerpt of a speech by Kate Colvin, Policy Manager at Jesuit Social Services, at the launch, which highlights issues facing vulnerable young people in the justice system that are important to consider in the lead-up to the November State Election. Victoria has an incredibly strong youth justice system. The latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on youth justice revealed significant ... Read More

By under Children and families, Justice, Justice, State Politics, Young people, Young People and Families
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Strategic and financial planning for community organisations

1 October 2014  |  

The roll-out of the NDIS, cuts to government spending on social services and recommissioning are just some of the current issues that Victorian community organisations must consider when planning for the future. At the latest bankmecu-VCOSS Finance Network workshop, dedicated to practical strategic planning, about 50 community sector representatives and financial planning experts discussed how to plan strategically in this changing environment. The Finance Network provides practical advice and information for community organisations to build their capabilities. The workshop was presented ... Read More

By under Community sector, Community sector strengthening, Sector Sustainability Newsletters, VCOSS Link
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