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ACTCOSS job opportunity: Policy and Research Officer

ACTCOSS is seeking a full time Policy Officer. The position involves a variety of duties associated with research, policy analysis and development, advocacy and membership engagement. The role includes facilitating and attending meetings and committees, liaising with community representatives and government officials, writing reports, developing advocacy material including submissions, briefs, letters and publications and managing externally commissioned projects. Policy Officers also contribute to the production of ACTCOSS strategic documents, funding reports and newsletter/media articles.

This role would suit someone who is confident with sourcing, synthesising and analysing information and material on diverse topics. The successful candidate will need to be comfortable with developing policy advice and advocacy strategies on topics on which they do not have previous experience. Strong verbal and written communication skills are essential and a research background would be highly valued.

Invitation: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day Event – 4 August

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day is the largest national day to celebrate our children. The theme for Children’s Day 2015 is: Little People, Big Futures.

Please come and help us celebrate together through the way of song and dance, storytelling, face painting, food, art and crafts, jewellery making and much more.

This event is sponsored in partnership by the ACTCOSS Gulanga Program, the ACT Nannies Group, Gugan Gulwan Aboriginal Youth Corporation, and YWCA Canberra.

Issues Paper: Educational Inequity in the ACT

July 2015

The Youth Coalition of the ACT in partnership with ACTCOSS has released a paper highlighting the importance of education and the issues and challenges of educational inequity in the ACT. Most young Canberrans will have a positive experience at school, but our high average attainment works to hide the fact that there are students falling behind, not achieving and disengaging from school in the ACT.

Over the next year, the Youth Coalition, in partnership with ACTCOSS, will be working with ACT community sector organisations to develop a common understanding of what is needed to address educational inequity and support the students that are not succeeding in our school system. This paper is designed to stimulate discussion and provide background for an initial conversation about what is working well in our education system, where improvements can be made and the role of the community sector in supporting and working with young people, their families, and schools, to ensure that all young people can succeed in education.

Government leaders urged to find long term solutions to fund vital public services

Joint COSS media release, 21 July 2015

Councils of Social Service (COSS) across Australia today called on the Council of Australian Governments to work together on long term solutions to fund important universal and social services such as health, education, housing and community services into the future.

As our national leaders prepare to meet, we urge them to put aside political differences and forge a way forward which guarantees access to services for all Australians into the future, regardless of location or income, through secure long-term revenue streams.

Submission on the Taxi Industry Innovation Review

July 2015

ACTCOSS has three key requirements of any new development in transport: that it be accessible, affordable and fit for purpose (incorporating east to west travel needs and within neighbourhood travel inside and outside of peak hours as well as mass transit). In this submission ACTCOSS focuses on the need to regulate safety and quality standards and to further consult with people living with disability who face increased reliance upon (with associated cost) taxi-type travel. ACTCOSS argues for the need to enhance transports choices as well as preserving quality and safety for all and makes relevant recommendations to meet these ends.

New Reconciliation Action Plan

We have launched our second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The RAP sets out specific actions ACTCOSS is committed to achieving during 2015-18 to contribute to the vision of a reconciled Australia.

New report: Independence in the Not-for-Profit Sector

25 June 2015

ACTCOSS and SACOSS are launching the report Independence in the Not-for-Profit Sector at the ACOSS conference today.

The report sets out the findings of a research project investigating the meaning of independence in the community not-for-profit (NFP) sector. While frequently independence is a central concept in debate on the NFP sector, the meaning of independence is taken for granted. This report highlights that there are a range of ways in which independence is defined and understood in the ACNC Act, in policy debates, and by sector representatives. It also highlights that independence continues to be considered of vital importance to and by the NFP community sector.

ACT 2015-16 Budget Snapshot for the Community Sector

ACTCOSS has produced its annual Budget Snapshot document. The Snapshot outlines selected Budget initiatives affecting people experiencing disadvantage and the community sector. Read our response to the ACT Budget in our media release: Budget has right focus but investment is modest (Word doc 98KB), (PDF 91KB).

Budget has right focus but investment is modest

Media release, 2 June 2015

The ACT Council of Social Service says the ACT Budget for 2015/2016 recognises the need for social inclusion and equality to be at the centre of decision making and planning for the ACT community. However, the investments announced in this Budget do not fully address the gaps we know exist in our economy, our infrastructure and service systems.

Nominations open: 2015 Canberra and District Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Sector Worker of the Year Award

Since 2006, ACTCOSS has coordinated the Canberra and District NAIDOC Award for the Canberra and District Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Sector Worker of the Year.

Nominations for the award are open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers in the ACT and region, who are employed in the community sector and non-government agencies who work with the local community. The award will be presented at the ACT NAIDOC Awards on Saturday 4 July 2015.

ACTCOSS would like to thank bankmecu for sponsoring this award.

New Report: Analysis of Changes in the Cost of Housing in the ACT

27 April 2015

ACTCOSS has released a new report tracking the cost of housing, particularly for vulnerable and disadvantaged households in the Australian Capital Territory.

Key Messages Research conducted by ACT Shelter in November 2014 shows: Download the report:

Response to Proposal for NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework

This submission to the Australian Government Department of Social Services, is ACTCOSS' response to the draft Proposal for a National Disability Insurance Scheme' Quality and Safeguarding Framework. ACTCOSS advocates for access to Individual Advocacy as part of the Framework, and an independent statutory complaints function, with a Disability Complaints office independent of the NDIA.

Concessions essential to cope with ACT costs of living

Media release, 10 April 2015

ACT government concessions are essential to ensuring that people experiencing disadvantage are able to afford fundamental necessities and should not be changed in the 2015-2016 ACT Budget. A new ACT Council of Social Service report tracking the cost of living in the ACT highlights why.

“Our Cost of Living Report finds that key costs of living are rising in the ACT. It also finds that cost of living pressures are increasing for some people on lower incomes faster than the average rate. For those on the lowest incomes whose discretionary spending is limited, these escalating costs can mean having to make difficult choices between basic needs such as housing, food and transport,” Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service stated.

Draft determination review for ActewAGL electricity prices 2014-19

SEE-Change and ACTCOSS have provided a joint submission to the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) on the draft determination review for ActewAGL electricity prices 2014-19. This submission provides a brief analysis of the issues that should be taken into consideration by the AER in their review, including energy hardship in low income households, the need for infrastructure development, and ActewAGL as a major employer and economic contributor in the ACT.

Review of the Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme

The Conservation Council ACT Region and ACTCOSS have provided a joint comment on the Energy Efficiency (Cost of Living) Improvement Act 2012.

We have a shared view that human contributions to climate change must be addressed while at the same time recognising energy needs, particularly for heating, cooling and lighting. Increased costs for energy will impact most on people with low or fixed incomes. The reduction of energy use through energy efficiency measures has the dual impacts of reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions along with reducing the costs associated with energy use. The attention given by the Act to priority (low-income) households is a welcome focus for the implementation of energy efficiency measures.

Social Inclusion and Equality are welcome new portfolios in ACT Cabinet

Media release, 21 January 2015

Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service, commented today on the announcement of the new portfolio arrangements for Ministers released by Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

"I welcome the new Cabinet and congratulate Yvette Berry MLA on her Ministerial appointment. ACTCOSS looks forward to working with Minister Berry whose portfolio responsibilities, which include Housing, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Community Services, Multicultural Affairs, Women, and Social Inclusion and Equality, cover much of the core business of ACTCOSS – advocating for policy, programs and services that promote justice, equality, reconciliation and social inclusion."

Collective community sector call for Government halt to 'devastating' funding cuts

COSS media release, 31 December 2014

ACOSS and state and territory Councils of Social Service have issued a collective New Year's Resolution for the Federal Government to stop devastating funding cuts to community organisations all over the country.

Speaking today, ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said: 'We are determined to convince the Federal Government to reverse its decision to cut funding from community organisations around the country as well as the key national community peak bodies in the housing, homelessness, disability areas, two days before Christmas."

"It is clear that the consequences of these cuts have not been considered by the new Minister responsible, and all our early signs from community people around the country tells us the impacts on vulnerable communities will be devastating."

80% of community services can't meet demand

Media release, 8 December 2014

A national report released by the Australian Council of Social Service today provides alarming evidence that community services are not able to meet demand for support because of a lack of resources, and that quality of life is decreasing for some of the most disadvantaged people in our community.

Commenting on this report today, Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service said: “This means people in Canberra who are eligible for support are being turned away – most often from legal and housing services.

ACTCOSS Budget Priorities 2015-16: ACT Budget Submission

ACTCOSS has published our submission to the ACT Budget for 2015-16. Our Budget Submission includes key asks around affordable housing and homelessness that community sector organisations have come together to promote. We collectively believe on-going investment will underpin and facilitate genuinely better and more sustainable outcomes for disadvantaged Canberrans in the areas Government has identified as priorities for action in its Budget Strategy.

Our members have also identified three areas of urgent need that we advise the Government to invest in as a matter of priority: Accessible services and community infrastructure; prevention, early intervention and targeted assistance; and reorienting and prioritising service delivery in the context of whole-of-community roll out of the NDIS.

ACT Labour Market Trends Help Explain Rates of Poverty in the ACT: Report

Joint media release with Women's Centre for Health Matters, 14 October 2014

The ACT Council of Social Service and Women's Centre for Health Matters released data today showing that outside of public sector employment, industries with growing employment opportunities that do not require degree-level qualifications offer low wage, relatively high rates of part-time work, suggesting many workers struggle to earn enough to cover their costs of living.

Commenting on release of the report, Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service said, "Our community knows that a full-time job is the best way to ensure protection from poverty. But in some industries, notably those where women are significantly over-represented, workers have comparatively low (full-time) wages and part-time employment is high."

Read the entire media release: Read the 6 page overview document: Read the full data report:

Human Services Blueprint

The ACT Community Sector has worked with the ACT Government to design and implement a new approach to community, health, justice and education services so they respond better to community expectations and needs - by being person-focused, strengths-based and focused on achieving positive outcomes. This work has led to adoption of a Human Services Blueprint by the ACT Government and a number of Better Services Initiatives were funded in the 2014-15 ACT Budget.

ACTCOSS has contributed to developing the Human Services Blueprint and implementing the Better Services Initiatives because we believe it has the potential to deliver real improvements in the design, delivery and resourcing of services so they make a positive difference to people in Canberra, especially those who are living with poverty and disadvantage, or who are facing a vulnerable time in their life. Three principles underpin this work: You can find out more about this work and ways to get involved in decisions about how the Human Services Blueprint is implemented.

Presentation available: Internet connectivity among people experiencing poverty and deprivation

During Anti-Poverty Week this year ACTCOSS facilitated a conversation about the interactions between poverty, disadvantage, and digital technology, often referred to as the 'digital divide': the space between those who have access to digital technologies and those who are excluded from accessing digital technology because of inability to cover costs.

Speaker Dr Sarah Wise (University of Melbourne and Berry Street Victoria) has kindly provided her presentation from the event for download.
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