|What a busy year it’s been at the Social Action and Research Centre.
We’ve released research reports, made appearances at Parliamentary hearings, presented policies and continued to advocate on issues affecting vulnerable Tasmanians.
In the past few months, it has been pleasing to see the removal of poker machines from pubs and clubs cemented as a key issue for the upcoming state election. We know that pokies cause significant harm in Tasmanian communities and that we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make change when the current licence ends. Throughout the year we have spoken to many people and groups across the state to discuss this issue and there is a real momentum building for change – people want to see their local suburbs freed from poker machines and the harm they cause.
A recent highlight for SARC was the Basic Income: Panacea or Pipe Dream? forum we co-hosted in October with the Economic Society of Australia and the Institute for the Study of Social Change. This Anti-Poverty Week event was a great success, filled with informed questions, an expert panel, and genuine discussion on the pros and cons an introducing a basic income into Australia.
Now, it is time to start gearing up for the state election in March next year and ensuring that improving the lives of low income Tasmanians is top of the agenda for all parties and candidates. In the context of the state election, we will be speaking about priority issues and working to ensure the voices of vulnerable Tasmanians are heard.
Finally, thank you to everyone who has supported SARC, its research and its staff throughout this year. It’s been a positive year for SARC and we are already looking forward to next year to continue creating political, social and cultural change in Tasmania.
Meg Webb, SARC manager
|Pokies in Pembroke
The Pembroke by-election on November 4 showed that poker machine reform is high on the political agenda. Election candidates who had spent time door-knocking and campaigning in the weeks leading up to the by-election reported that poker machines were one issue brought up time and time again. This was great to see.
SARC has undertaken research and advocacy on this issue for many years and has been campaigning hard for the last two years to see poker machines removed from Tasmanian pubs and clubs when the current deed expires. A final decision on this is due next year, and with a state election due in March, now is the time to make a difference.
SARC created a Pokies in Pembroke map showing the five venues with 150 poker machines, which take over $8 million dollars per year from that community. This map was spread far and wide ahead of the by-election, and went on to feature in an opinion piece in The Mercury newspaper, from SARC manager Meg Webb, highlighting the growing community momentum for change.
We are also pleased to see the Community Voice for Pokies Reform coalition’s open letter to Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman, which calls for poker machines to be removed from pubs and clubs, has passed 5000 signatures and continues to grow.
Add your voice for change to this letter at www.pokiescauseharm.org.au
|Basic Income: Panacea of Pipe Dream?
As part of Anti-Poverty Week for 2017, for the second year SARC partnered with the Economic Society of Australia and the Institute for the Study of Social Change to host an event. This year’s event was a public forum to discuss the merits of a basic income and its potential for Australia. We were very lucky to have Brotherhood of St Laurence policy and research manager Professor Shelley Mallett fly from Victoria to be a part of the event and to sit on the discussion panel.
A capacity crowd gathered for the Basic Income: Panacea of Pipe Dream? forum at the University of Tasmania as a panel of economists and social policy experts explored what a basic income could look like, how it could be rolled out, and how the rise of technology was pushing employees out of the workforce. The introduction of a basic income would see each member of society given a periodic cash payment, regardless of their personal circumstances.
During her trip, Professor Mallett also visited Anglicare’s Trinity Hill Apartments, which offer safe and affordable housing for young people on low incomes. She was highly impressed with the facility and commented on how important the service was for young Tasmanians.
|Find us online
SARC is now officially on Twitter! The new @SARC_Anglicare Twitter account is now up and running and will be used as another outlet for SARC and Anglicare to spread their key messages to a broader community. Be sure to follow us to keep up to date with all of SARC’s movements.
Speaking of social media, we have also recently celebrated the milestone of reaching 1000 likes on the SARC Facebook page. So a big thank you to everyone who follows us, likes our content and has taken an interest in what we do.
|State Election campaign
With the next state government election due in March 2018, SARC has been working away busily to ensure the voices of vulnerable Tasmanians are heard. This election cycle, as well as focusing on removing poker machines from pubs and clubs, SARC will be campaigning on the issues of housing affordability and children and families.
In Tasmania, less than 2 per cent of rental properties are currently vacant and housing prices in the state continue to increase. Having a stable roof over your head not only adds to a sense of security, but goes on to impact education and employment opportunities. Too often, rental stress leads to entrenched poverty and more needs to be done to break the cycle.
Vulnerable children and families have been a big political focus throughout 2017, and this is a conversation we want to keep having ahead of the election. Young people are over-represented in the Tasmanian homeless population and many highly vulnerable young people are falling through the gaps. SARC will be campaigning to all levels of government for the rights of children to live happy, safe and fulfilled lives.
There is a lot more to come from SARC in this space, so keep an eye out for news.
|What are we working on?
We are always working away busily here at SARC and currently, we have multiple pieces of work on the go.
Our senior researcher Teresa Hinton is embarking on a new research project, Breaking the Cycle: Alternatives to recurrent child removals in the Tasmanian Child Safety System. This research looks at the issue of mothers who have repeatedly had children removed by Child Safety Services, and the appropriateness and efficiency of the support they receive. It will make recommendations on more effective approaches to this support in order to reduce the rates of repeat removals.
A second research project, In Limbo: Tackling income and housing challenges for low income Tasmanian parents engaged in the process of family reunification, is being undertaken by SARC researcher Lindsey Moffatt. This project will explore the collateral consequences of children being removed from families, including the loss of welfare payments and higher risk of homelessness for parents, and the barriers this presents to successful reunification of the family.
Researcher Catherine Robinson is working on a follow-up piece to her landmark report, Too Hard? Highly vulnerable teens in Tasmania. This discussion paper, titled Who Cares? Supported accommodation for unaccompanied under 16s, looks at how the non-statutory supported accommodation needs of highly vulnerable teens, aged between 10 and 17, are being addressed in Australian jurisdictions.
In the first half of this year, SARC worked on a research project which examined how changes to the ways Centrelink interacts with people, primarily through automation, is impacting on vulnerable people who engage with them and also on the non-government services that support them.
This resulted in a compelling picture and steps have been taken to extend this report into a national project for advocacy at the federal level. This national project will be undertaken in conjunction with Anglicare Australia, Anglicare South Australia, Anglicare Western Australia, and Anglicare South-East Queensland. It is expected to be completed in the first quarter 2018.
Watch out for these pieces as they progress into 2018.
|SARC supporting campaigns
As well as conducting its own research, SARC has joined forces with The Home Stretch to campaign for reform to improve outcomes for young people leaving state care.
To learn more about the many reasons why this reform is needed visit their website.
We are also participants in the Tasmanian Human Rights Act campaign to advocate for the legislation of an Act that would enhance our level of rights protection in this state. To lend your voice to this campaign, sign the petition on their website.
Also, the Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania which calls for a planning system that is underpinned by key principles that prioritise community health and well-being, a community endorsed vision for Tasmania, transparency and independence and community involvement.
Further information about each of these key campaigns and our involvement in them can also be found on the SARC website.
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