From Annette (Acting CEO) – 4 December 2019

  • Profile of Annette Schoone
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QCOSS Annual Priorities Statement survey

Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad has confirmed she will hand down her final Budget six weeks earlier than expected in April 2020. This is timely, as we have been working on our Annual Priorities Statement for 2020, which will set out the key priorities and actions we consider most important over the next 12 months. We will use this document to articulate our vision to government – and it will form the basis of our advocacy approach for the 2020-21 Queensland Budget, as well as our priorities in the lead up to the State Election in October 2020.

As members, your voice is invaluable in this process. I encourage each of you to please share your thoughts and feedback on what actions government needs to take to help us achieve our vision of equality, opportunity and wellbeing for every person, in every community in Queensland. You can complete the survey here.

Social Services Inquiries

There have been lots of stories recently about the federal Social Services Inquiries, including an ACOSS report that was released last week around Newstart and Youth Allowance payments. According to the survey of almost 900 people aged between 16 and 30, more than 60 per cent of respondents had less than $100 per week left after paying rent, and 37 per cent were left with less than $50.

Alongside ACOSS, QCOSS has been campaigning for the federal government to Raise the Rate of the Newstart allowance by at least $75 per week.

There has been progress with challenges to the Robodebt program. Last week the federal government settled a landmark challenge against the program, conceding that a $2,500 debt was not lawful because it relied on income averaging. This comes after the federal government announced they are finally winding back key parts of the failed and damaging ‘Robodebt’ automated debt recovery program, including the inaccurate ‘income-averaging’ method which QCOSS recommended be abolished in our Position Statement on Centrelink Automated Debt Recovery.

QCOSS will continue to call on our elected representatives to act now and make decisions for every person in every community.

COSS network calls on federal government to prevent cuts to community services

The National Council of Social Service Network, of which QCOSS is a member, has written to the Morrison government urging them to prevent impending cuts to community services funding.

With the end of the Equal Remuneration Order (ERO) Supplementation approaching, we are deeply concerned about the impact the cuts of up to $554.5 million per annum will have on community services across Australia.

The Commonwealth funding is currently guaranteed by legislation, which will cease in June 2021. This funding is vital to ensure that organisations funded by the Commonwealth can keep delivering the services that communities, families and individuals rely on. This funding affects homelessness services, services to families and children, domestic and family violence services and other community services.

QCOSS and the COSS network will continue to work together to call on the federal government to guarantee funding.

Vale Uncle Sam Watson

I was sad to hear about the recent passing of Brisbane Elder, Uncle Sam Watson. Uncle Sam has been a passionate advocate for the rights of First Nation’s people across Brisbane, Queensland and Australia.

Throughout his life, Uncle Sam involved himself in community organisations in support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, and participated in ground-swell activism – most recently appearing at the Invasion Day rally in Brisbane. He was well known as a gifted storyteller and author with several books, plays and screenplays to his name.

Many of us at QCOSS have had the pleasure and privilege of working with and learning from Uncle Sam over many years. His larger than life personality, deep commitment to justice and tireless work will be sorely missed.

Our hearts go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.

4 December 2019