From Mark – 17 July 2019

  • QCOSS CEO Mark Henley

QCOSS State Conference – Leading change together: update

I’m delighted to announce that Mariam Issa will be our keynote speaker for the QCOSS 2019 State Conference. Mariam is a passionate speaker, author, storyteller and community builder. She has an incredible story, moving from Somalia’s war-torn Mogadishu to a Melbourne suburb at age 30 and now inspires countless women through powerful stories of her personal trials and tribulations.

Unfortunately, Stan Grant is no longer able to present at the conference in September as he has accepted a job overseas. While this is disappointing, we have an exciting line-up of speakers. To read more about Mariam and all our speakers visit the Leading change together website.

Raise the Rate Week of Action on Newstart and Youth Allowance

People who are, or have been, on Newstart or Youth Allowance have begun meeting with their MPs to ask them to immediately raise the rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance as part of Raise the Rate Week of Action from 15-21 July. They have shared their stories on how difficult it is to get by on just $40 a day in Australia.

As part of our continued advocacy alongside ACOSS and the COSS network on the Raise the Rate campaign, we are encouraging people who are, or have been, on Newstart or Youth Allowance to share their stories with their local MPs. We need to overturn this system that continues to create and perpetuate inequality. It is good the media is continuing to promote this important social issue. For more information or to participate, please visit the ACOSS website.

Federal Assistant Minister out of touch on homelessness

The new Assistant Housing Minister Luke Howarth made comments earlier this week that homelessness in Australia is not a problem. He tried putting a “positive spin” on Census data, which clearly shows an increase in homelessness across Australia of 14 per cent over recent years. QCOSS has been consistent in our messaging and asks that both federal and state governments must invest in affordable and accessible housing. It is the largest cost impacting households across the country and therefore making living affordability impossible for many. We need leadership by people in government and that means stepping up and responding to the needs of all people in our community. We saw avoidance by both of the major parties in relation to the need to increase Newstart and Youth Allowance leading up to the federal election, and now it appears to be more avoidance on this important social issue.

Housing is a fundamental need for every person in every community. We will continue to call out our elected officials if they make inaccurate and insensitive comments like this, as it is our role to advocate for those doing it the most tough, often due to government systems that fail them. The government needs to start investing in preventative measures that support people rather than continuing to invest hundreds of millions in systems that make their lives more difficult, such as RoboDebt, the Cashless Debit Card and the Parents Next Program.

If you would like to hear the interview I did with the ABC about Assistant Minister Howarth’s comments, click here.

Responsible Gambling Awareness Week

Australians are the biggest gamblers on earth, losing more than $24 billion a year, according to a startling article I read recently in The Monthly. It indicates the expansion of gambling was a deliberate government policy choice to help resolve the revenue shortfall during the 1980s and early 1990s. However, it is not only political processes that have been corrupted by the gambling industry. The academic process has also been hijacked, and the legitimacy of research being called into question, with general population surveys obscuring the fact that most losses are suffered by people experiencing disadvantage. Governments reliance now on gambling income to deliver services raises serious concerns itself.

Given how little discretionary income is available for people on benefits and in low-wage employment, losing even $100 a week to gambling has a direct and devastating impact on their lives. It is time to stop blaming the victims for what is policy-driven catastrophe for thousands of people and their families and friends. Responsible Gambling Awareness Week is from 29 July to 4 August.

17 July 2019