When we talk about building strong, connected and sustainable communities, we know that first and foremost our communities care about getting it right from the start and building a strong foundation for children, young people and their families.
We know this because over the last few years since the last State Election, NCOSS has travelled across NSW to hear directly from communities about the key issues that matter to them, and the solutions making a real difference.
Between May and August 2018 we undertook a tour of Regional Consultations, visiting 18 communities and listening to stories from over 220 individuals who work in their community with people who are experiencing poverty and disadvantage. We also gathered stories and experiences through an online survey of our membership canvassing their priorities for action, and of 402 people living below the poverty line.
Together, with the expert knowledge of our diverse advisory panels, we have formed the NCOSS 2019 NSW Election Platform. We invite you to stand with us by offering your endorsement to show the incoming government the power of our collective voices.
AFFORDABLE & SECURE HOUSING
Implement an affordable housing strategy
● Deliver 5,000 new social housing dwellings each year until 2026. Ensure that all new stock is accessible for people with a disability and have best practice energy efficiency standards, including solar power.
● Mandate inclusionary zoning targets of 15% for privately owned land and 30% for publicly owned land.
Support young people to avoid homelessness
We need to provide a variety of evidence-based housing support options to young people, including:
● Investing in supported accommodation models such as the Youth Foyer model, Housing Plus and medium term accommodation services.
● Further investment in intensive case management models for young people with complex needs.
● Support to maintain tenancies.
Investment should be targeted to regions with the highest need.
Make renting more secure and fair
● Strengthen the protection for tenants’ under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (‘RTA’) by removing ‘no grounds’ evictions under sections 84 and 85 of the RTA.
● Increase investment in tenants’ advice services to strengthen security of tenancies for children and their families.
Support children and their families experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness
● Increase investment in Housing First and Assertive Outreach responses to ensure young people experiencing homelessness are housed as quickly as possible.
● Long term and ongoing investment in Aboriginal community controlled housing providers to build capacity to deliver services, maintain existing housing stock and develop new stock.
ACCESS TO JUSTICE
Divert young people from the criminal justice system
Adopt a justice reinvestment approach to end the overrepresentation of young Aboriginal people in prison, that:
● Redirects funding away from the expansion of prison infrastructure and into initiatives that strengthen communities and address the underlying causes of offending.
● Allocates diverted funds to three new community-led justice reinvestment initiatives across NSW.
● Establishes an independent NSW justice reinvestment body overseen by a board with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership.
Invest more in keeping young people out of the justice system with targeted diversionary programs. Diversionary programs run by Aboriginal controlled organisations, in urban, regional and remote NSW, should be prioritised.
Slash recidivism rates
Ensure universal access to culturally appropriate post-release programs which focus on continuity of support for young people (up to 25 years). All young Aboriginal people should have access to Aboriginal-led programs that focus on re-establishing their connections to country, community and culture.
Ensure Aboriginal people have culturally appropriate legal assistance
Significantly increase funding for community-based legal assistance services, particularly Aboriginal Legal Services and Aboriginal controlled community legal centres.
Work with schools to help young people access supports
Increase investment in and expand the budget for evidence-based, prevention and early intervention mental health and wellbeing programs and initiatives in schools across the state.
Ensure children and young people in regional NSW get the help they need
Support and resource low-cost, community-based youth mental health support services, with a focus on investment in regional, remote and rural areas, that:
● Are recovery-oriented and trauma-informed.
● Promote care coordination.
● Complement and integrate with clinical and acute care services.
Ensure all children have the best start in life
Provide universal access to early childhood education and care services for all children in the 2 years before school.
Support children and young people to remain engaged in education
Support vulnerable young people to remain engaged with the education system, including:
● Increased investment in student support officers, and provision of centralised support, training and coordination of their activities.
● Targeted in-school support for children in out-of-home care.
● Appropriate alternatives to suspension.
FAMILY & CONNECTEDNESS
Keep children and young people safe and with their families
Ensure there is a well-resourced continuum of support for vulnerable children, young people and their families from the prevention and early intervention stages, right through to family preservation and restoration, with a focus on keeping families and kinship networks together. This should include:
● Increased investment in prevention and early intervention to increase support for vulnerable families and reduce entry into the child protection system, including an early intervention service growth fund targeted at areas with high rates of risk-of-significant-harm notifications.
● Ensuring the real value of funding for existing early intervention programs and services is maintained.
● Establishing a child protection innovation and evidence fund to test and evaluate new approaches to early intervention.
● Increased investment in intensive family preservation and restoration services.
Integrated service delivery for our most vulnerable families
Develop a more integrated, whole-of-government approach to addressing issues which lead to child protection concerns earlier. This should include a policy approach which gives families with child protection concerns priority access to services such as social housing, early childhood education and health services.
Reduce the impact of transport disadvantage on children, young people and their families by adequately funding rural, regional and remote community transport providers
Commitment to long term funding of the NSW Community Transport Program beyond June 2019, with a 20% increase in funds received by service providers each year for five years.
Deliver place-based community transport solutions
In consultation with the sector, deliver all NSW transport assistance funds more directly to communities so that local groups can together come up with ways to deploy their community transport resources efficiently and sustainably.
Extend opportunities for young people in regional NSW to be supported to learn to drive
Fund evidence-based programs such as Driving Change that support young people in regional areas to learn to drive.
Urgently address health transport barriers in regional NSW for children and their families
Extend the Isolated Patient Transport Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS):
● Include community transport providers in eligible NSW areas.
● Include upfront payment to service providers and clients as an option in the Scheme.
● Expand the range of medical services covered by the scheme to include specialist mental health services and specialist drug, alcohol and addiction treatment services.
● Undertake an awareness campaign encouraging health services and the community to make use of the service.