This is an overview of some of our key pieces of work during the last year.
Changing Lives, Changing Communities
Changing Lives, Changing Communities is a series of two-day events across Queensland.
Since 2018, we met 741 people in 10 communities. We discussed the stories we want to tell in our communities and how they can change the outcomes for people everywhere. Then we worked through a process to create the movement for change.
This is some of what people at the events said:
“I believe this has been the best forum/workshop/gathering I have been at in my almost 20 years in the sector.”
“Great hosts, great processes, conversations, contexts and outcomes.”
Place-based community building is about bringing together citizens in a place to address the complex needs of communities by harnessing the vision, resources and opportunities in each community.
QCOSS has worked in many parts of Queensland to tackle entrenched issues using a place-based approach to build local partnerships and develop place-focussed and community driven responses.
We have built a plan of action for place-based approaches in Queensland moving forward. We have organised our actions into four keys areas: doing, learning, leading and changing.
Queensland place-based community of practice
QCOSS heard from people supporting place-based projects around Queensland that they would like more opportunities to meet, build shared understanding of place-based work, share information, skills and learnings, and identify opportunities for collaboration.
In response, QCOSS established a Queensland Place-based Community of Practice open to everyone with an interest in place-based ways of working in Queensland.
Energy Savvy Families
The Energy Savvy Families program is designed to help families across regional Queensland learn more about their energy use and manage their energy bills.
As part of the Energy Savvy Families program, participants will have access to a local champion in their area for support. Each local community champion will be holding community forums as part of the program. The forums include details about the program as well as information on energy literacy, energy saving tips, how to read your bills, where to get help and information on energy concessions and rebates.
Community Door is an online gateway for community-managed organisations in Queensland to access key information to assist in all aspects of the operation of their service.
Hosted by QCOSS on behalf of the Queensland Government, the site provides up-to-date information about government reforms, free e-training modules and a whole lot more.
Human Services Quality Framework
QCOSS provides a range of supports to assist community services to implement the HSQF, targeted primarily at organisations funded under the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors. We also provide general advice to all QCOSS members.
Our supports include:
One-on-one or small group support – we can assist organisations to understand the HSQF standards and how they apply to their services, how to implement a quality system and how to prepare for quality assessment activities. We offer support via onsite meetings, phone calls, email and skype.
We also provide a range of resources for organisations to use.
Community action for a multicultural society (CAMS)
QCOSS’ CAMS program supports increases social connectedness, participation and access for community members from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds through addressing systemic challenges, raising awareness and developing capacity for inclusion.
Currently, this work includes convening regular meetings and actions of the Queensland Accessing Interpreters Working Group (QAIWG) to ensure greater and more effective use of interpreters services throughout Queensland; providing training to community organisations and other agencies in how to effectively engage and work with interpreters; and developing capacity to engage CALD community members in place-based initiatives.
Multicultural Affairs Queensland, under the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs, funds the CAMS program.
Much of QCOSS’ work involves advocating on behalf of people in Queensland from low income households and investigating the rising cost of living they face. Our specific work in this area includes energy, water, transport and our series of reports on living affordability.
The QCOSS Living Affordability in Queensland report, released in February 2019, said many people are finding they don’t have enough money to afford the basics. Cost-of-living pressures are increasing and affordability concerns were cited as the leading issue for many households. Targeted responses to support households experiencing vulnerability are needed to make sure everyone in Queensland can access a basic standard of living.
We welcome your stories about the real life experiences of people across Queensland to help amplify our advocacy on these issues.
Similar to our energy work, QCOSS considers it essential that every person has access to affordable and reliable water for cooking, washing and sanitation. QCOSS receives funding from the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy to represent the interests of low-income households across South East Queensland in relation to water access and affordability. This work includes developing and delivering water literacy workshops and fact sheets to the community sector, working with water providers to improve hardship provisions, and working with stakeholders to improve equity and fairness for renters who pay for water via their landlord.
Electricity is an essential service for all people in Queensland. Access to electricity that is affordable and reliable is vital to our health, wellbeing and quality of life.
QCOSS’ energy work is focussed on reducing the cost of electricity in Queensland and ensuring that support is available to keep households connected. Our work includes developing energy literacy and energy efficiency workshops and fact sheets to equip the community sector to provide information to people who may be struggling. We also identify systemic issues and advocate for policy change and improved consumer protections to ensure there is an adequate safety net for people experiencing financial hardship.
QCOSS believes that everyone has a fundamental right to housing. Yet not all Queenslanders have access to stable, affordable and accessible housing.
The QCOSS Housing Position Statement was released in 2018. It recommends policy asks in eight domain areas: establish housing leadership; reform tax incentives; increase incomes; reform and invest in social / affordable housing; improve land planning; empower renters; reform homelessness programs; and implement inclusive design and supply.
The federal government’s welfare reforms, including the Cashless Debit Card, Drug Testing and ‘Robo-debt’, unfairly target people experiencing vulnerability.
QCOSS has continued to research and consult on the federal government’s welfare reforms including:
• Consulting with Centrelink around improving the ‘Robo-debt’ process and interface
• Developing various policy statements, media releases and Senate submission on the Drug Testing Trial Bill after it split from the Welfare Reform Bill
• QCOSS is committed to staying engaged with people in the Hinkler community (Bundaberg and Hervey Bay) as the federal government’s Cashless Debit Card Trial (CDCT) rolls out, which commenced 29 January 2019. While we remain steadfastly opposed to the CDCT, we will continue to support the community by providing people affected by the trial with information about the roll out and their participation in the trial process.
Human Rights Act for Queensland
The Human Rights Act for Queensland was passed by Queensland Parliament in 2018.
QCOSS and community service peaks in Queensland will continue to ask the Queensland Government to commit to implementing legislation as a critical step in providing people with the confidence in our system to stand up for all our rights.