Queensland is facing new challenges associated with the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. In addition, pre-existing frailties in our society and systems are more exposed and complex issues related to growing inequality remain.
As we approach the 2020 state election in the shadow of a one in one-hundred-year pandemic, the actions of government are more important than ever.
To make sure that all Queenslanders are included in economic recovery and to help to build back to a better Queensland, particularly for people who experience the most vulnerability in our communities – our children and young people, seniors, people with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, new arrivals, and people who rely on low incomes to get by – over the next four years the Queensland Government must:
Support the wellbeing and resilience of all Queenslanders
Fund support for No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) providers at community organisations with $3 million per annum
More than 60 community organisations across Queensland offer their clients no interest loans. This crucial service provides people with access to a safe and ethical credit product and safeguards them against financial pressure from predatory payday lenders and consumer lessors.
Currently, the organisations that provide NILS receive no funding to administer it from the state government. To create jobs and expand the No Interest Loan Scheme to more Queenslanders, QCOSS is calling on all parties to commit to funding these organisations $3 million per annum on an ongoing basis.
Make renting fair
Implement reforms to the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 (Qld) in line with the Make Renting Fair Alliance Queensland campaign agenda.
This includes ending unfair no-fault evictions, implementing basic living standards, allowing family pets in rental homes, ensuring people have access to information that may affect their tenancies, and streamlining bond refund processes.
Raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14
Children belong in schools and playgrounds, not placed in handcuffs, held in watchhouses or locked in prisons away from their families, community and culture. Children aged 10 to 13 years old are going through significant growth and development, and treating them like criminals through early contact with the criminal justice system can lead to irreparable harm and long-term damage. Governments can change this by raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years.
Support local economies by creating jobs
Build 30,000 social homes by 2025, including allowances for universal design for all new homes
There are more than 25,600 households on the social housing waitlist in Queensland, and more than 21,000 people experiencing homelessness across the state. A Queensland in which everyone has a safe, stable place to call home must be an explicit goal for any party wishing to lead the state.
To address the issue of housing insecurity and create thousands of jobs in the construction and community sectors, QCOSS is calling on all parties to commit to building 30,000 social homes by 2025.
Invest $215 million in energy efficiency upgrades and solar PV for social housing dwellings so that all Queenslanders can benefit from renewable technology and lower living costs
Social housing tenants are locked out of new, cheaper technologies that save households thousands of dollars a year on energy bills. Investing in energy efficiency upgrades and solar PV for social housing dwellings will create thousands of jobs during the COVID-19 crisis, ensure more money is invested in local economies and result in lower energy bills for low-income households.
$215 million must be invested to install energy efficiency upgrades and solar PV on social housing dwellings across Queensland. The proposal entails an initial investment of $100 million to deliver the scheme in the next year, with the rest of the program to be rolled out in three years.
Ensure the social services sector can provide support to those who need it
Address the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Queensland are 8.5 times more likely to be removed from their families by child protection services than non-Indigenous children. Adequate resourcing of the Family Matters Queensland campaign and the actions identified in the state government’s Our Way Strategy and Changing Tracks ACtion Plan will begin to address this issue. The aim of the Family Matters campaign is to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia’s child protection systems by 2040.
Create a Community Sector Resilience Fund
The community sector has played a central role in the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to do so as the state recovers. With high levels of poverty and unemployment, more Queenslanders will be turning to our services for support.
Services like community health, domestic and family violence prevention, community and neighbourhood centres, community housing, and disability support organisations, have had to overcome significant service delivery challenges during COVID-19, while also experiencing increases in demand. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the sector was under increased pressure, with 82 per cent of community organisations reporting higher than usual demand in 2019.
Increased funding for community organisations will create jobs and ensure there is an adequate safety net for the growing number of people who need support.