Family, Ageing, Community & Disability Services

We are committed to delivering a guaranteed adequate income to all Australians, so as to assure people have appropriate support. Accessible social services, community resources and income support are essential for ensuring everybody has access to quality health care, housing, employment, education and training. The Greens are committed to increasing Newstart Allowance and raising all income support payments to better reflect the cost of living.

The community and not-for-profit sector plays an important role in our society and Government needs to commit funding and support accordingly.

People who experience disability, and their families and carers deserve access to life-long support and services that meet their individual circumstances. They should have the opportunity to actively participate in planning and delivery of policies, services and supports in areas such as education, health, housing, mobility, employment and social engagement. The Greens are actively working to ensure all Australians have independence, self-determination and choice in their lives.

media-releases

Community compact an empty gesture? – Greens

17 Mar 2010

The Australian Greens have warned the Rudd Government that the signing of a Compact with the Community Sector risks being seen as an empty gesture.
"Signing this important statement of principle as they make fundamental changes to Australia's social security system is not a good look for the Rudd Government," said Greens Senator Rachel Siewert today.

The Australian Greens have warned the Rudd Government that the signing of a Compact with the Community Sector risks being seen as an empty gesture.


"Signing this important statement of principle as they make fundamental changes to Australia's social security system is not a good look for the Rudd Government," said Greens Senator Rachel Siewert today.

speeches-in-parliament

Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (2009 Measures) Bill 2009

15 Mar 2010

FAMILIES, HOUSING, COMMUNITY SERVICES AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (2009 MEASURES) BILL 2009 Second Reading
Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia) (5.53 pm)—The Greens overall do not have problems with most of the amendments that are part of the Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (2009 Measures) Bill 2009. However, we have specific issues with an element of schedule 3, which introduces changes to the functioning of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, the SSAT. I have some concerns about the amendments relating to pre-hearing conferences. I believe that they undermine the current functioning of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and will make it more complex and time consuming while at the same time delivering poorer outcomes for those appealing Centrelink decisions.

FAMILIES, HOUSING, COMMUNITY SERVICES AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (2009 MEASURES) BILL 2009
Second Reading


Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia) (5.53 pm)—The Greens overall do not have problems with most of the amendments that are part of the Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (2009 Measures) Bill 2009. However, we have specific issues with an element of schedule 3, which introduces changes to the functioning of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, the SSAT. I have some concerns about the amendments relating to pre-hearing conferences. I believe that they undermine the current functioning of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and will make it more complex and time consuming while at the same time delivering poorer outcomes for those appealing Centrelink decisions.

motions

Former British Child Migrants

10 Mar 2010

FORMER BRITISH CHILD MIGRANTS Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia)
(4.39 pm)—I, and on behalf of Senators Humphries and Moore, move: That the Senate—

FORMER BRITISH CHILD MIGRANTS Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia)


(4.39 pm)—I, and on behalf of Senators Humphries and Moore, move: That the Senate—

media-releases

Greens stand with welfare sector against regressive shift in social policy

26 Feb 2010

The Australian Greens today reaffirmed its support for the welfare sector that is overwhelmingly opposed to the Federal Government's welfare changes.
"We stand by groups such as ACOSS, Anglicare, St Vincent de Paul Society, and many others who have all expressed deep concern at the Government's plan to extend income quarantining nationwide," said Greens community services spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert.
"The Government wants to extend the idea across the Northern Territory and then the rest of the country without any evidence that it's actually working.

The Australian Greens today reaffirmed its support for the welfare sector that is overwhelmingly opposed to the Federal Government's welfare changes.


"We stand by groups such as ACOSS, Anglicare, St Vincent de Paul Society, and many others who have all expressed deep concern at the Government's plan to extend income quarantining nationwide," said Greens community services spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert.


"The Government wants to extend the idea across the Northern Territory and then the rest of the country without any evidence that it's actually working.

media-releases

Greens private health insurance proposal to break deadlock, deliver $145m for mental health

22 Feb 2010

The Greens will propose a compromise on private health insurance today that offers a way to break the senate deadlock and deliver over a billion dollars to public hospitals and $145 million for specific mental health funding.
The compromise proposal would:- Support the passage of the bill which means-tests private health insurance rebate to deliver an estimated $1.8 billion to public hospitals over four years
- Support the passage of the Medicare Levy Surcharge with an amendment to direct all revenue raised through the increased surcharge (approximately $145 million over four years) into early intervention mental health services.

The Greens will propose a compromise on private health insurance today that offers a way to break the senate deadlock and deliver over a billion dollars to public hospitals and $145 million for specific mental health funding.


The compromise proposal would:
- Support the passage of the bill which means-tests private health insurance rebate to deliver an estimated $1.8 billion to public hospitals over four years


- Support the passage of the Medicare Levy Surcharge with an amendment to direct all revenue raised through the increased surcharge (approximately $145 million over four years) into early intervention mental health services.

media-releases

Greens fight moves to restrict homebirths

19 Feb 2010

The Australian Greens will continue to support midwives and a mothers' right to choose a homebirth.
"We are alarmed that Federal Government legislation undermines the ability of midwives to be able to provide support for mothers who decide to have a homebirth," said Greens health spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert.
"The Greens will be moving amendments once the legislation is introduced next week, to ensure that colaborative arrangements don't give doctors a power of veto over a midwives ability to practice.

The Australian Greens will continue to support midwives and a mothers' right to choose a homebirth.


"We are alarmed that Federal Government legislation undermines the ability of midwives to be able to provide support for mothers who decide to have a homebirth," said Greens health spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert.


"The Greens will be moving amendments once the legislation is introduced next week, to ensure that colaborative arrangements don't give doctors a power of veto over a midwives ability to practice.

media-releases

Disability carers need urgent financial support increase

15 Feb 2010

Carers of disabled people need immediate financial relief while system-wide funding reform occurs, said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert today.
"The Federal Government is currently conducting a feasibility study into a national disability insurance scheme, but this does not address the immediate and urgent needs of carers now," said Senator Siewert.

Carers of disabled people need immediate financial relief while system-wide funding reform occurs, said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert today.


"The Federal Government is currently conducting a feasibility study into a national disability insurance scheme, but this does not address the immediate and urgent needs of carers now," said Senator Siewert.

questions-without-notice

Indigenous Communities

04 Feb 2010

Senator SIEWERT (2.22 pm)—My question is to Senator Evans, the Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous
Affairs, Ms Jenny Macklin. I refer to the minister’s comments today on income quarantining. Does the minister consider that all welfare recipients squander their payments on alcohol, drugs and gambling? On what evidence does the minister make the claim that income support recipients are wasting their money on alcohol, gambling and drugs?

Senator SIEWERT (2.22 pm)—My question is to Senator Evans, the Minister representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous


Affairs, Ms Jenny Macklin. I refer to the minister’s comments today on income quarantining. Does the minister consider that all welfare recipients squander their payments on alcohol, drugs and gambling? On what evidence does the minister make the claim that income support recipients are wasting their money on alcohol, gambling and drugs?

media-releases

Be proactive in response to Australia’s ageing health bubble: Greens

02 Feb 2010

The Australian Greens believe a more proactive, early intervention approach to tackle the growing burden on our ailing hospital system should be a key response to the 2010 Intergenerational report.
The report predicts ageing of the Australian population will contribute to substantial pressure on government spending over the next 40 years - an extra $40 billion on top of existing spending on health by 2050.
"We know that high quality primary care can dramatically reduce avoidable hospitalization and keep people in better health," said Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens health spokesperson.
"This would also reduce waiting lists and free up resources to treat other patients," she said.
"Many people fail to make regular visits to their GP for various reasons, be it lack of money or transport, geographic or cultural barriers.
"Some are apathetic or feel a sense of futility about their condition, and many elderly people fail to report their illnesses and health needs until they reach an advanced stage of disease and disability.
‘We need a national programme of assessment, referral and health counselling practices in relation to control of disorders such as high blood pressure and diabetes, cancer screening and keeping immunizations up-to-date.
"People over-65 should be seen regularly every two years and those over 75 should be seen annually for assessment, and when necessary a home visit.
We must also be more proactive on aged care. For example there needs to be more community support packages to keep people mobile and independent and enable them to stay at home longer before moving into residential age care.
‘We have welcomed the Government's desire to establish a national preventive health agency with its emphasis on alcohol, tobacco and obesity. But a national programme of preventive care management doesn't mean we marginalise the health equity of the frail and the aged.
"The current health system is preoccupied with hospitalization which we believe should be considered as a last resort when other options fail, we need to stop people having to go to hospital in the first place," Senator Siewert concluded.
Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0417 174 302

The Australian Greens believe a more proactive, early intervention approach to tackle the growing burden on our ailing hospital system should be a key response to the 2010 Intergenerational report.


The report predicts ageing of the Australian population will contribute to substantial pressure on government spending over the next 40 years - an extra $40 billion on top of existing spending on health by 2050.


"We know that high quality primary care can dramatically reduce avoidable hospitalization and keep people in better health," said Senator Rachel Siewert, Greens health spokesperson.


"This would also reduce waiting lists and free up resources to treat other patients," she said.


"Many people fail to make regular visits to their GP for various reasons, be it lack of money or transport, geographic or cultural barriers.


"Some are apathetic or feel a sense of futility about their condition, and many elderly people fail to report their illnesses and health needs until they reach an advanced stage of disease and disability.


‘We need a national programme of assessment, referral and health counselling practices in relation to control of disorders such as high blood pressure and diabetes, cancer screening and keeping immunizations up-to-date.


"People over-65 should be seen regularly every two years and those over 75 should be seen annually for assessment, and when necessary a home visit.


We must also be more proactive on aged care. For example there needs to be more community support packages to keep people mobile and independent and enable them to stay at home longer before moving into residential age care.


‘We have welcomed the Government's desire to establish a national preventive health agency with its emphasis on alcohol, tobacco and obesity. But a national programme of preventive care management doesn't mean we marginalise the health equity of the frail and the aged.


"The current health system is preoccupied with hospitalization which we believe should be considered as a last resort when other options fail, we need to stop people having to go to hospital in the first place," Senator Siewert concluded.


Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0417 174 302

media-releases

Charity tax changes could decimate social services and aged care: Greens

23 Jan 2010

"Dr Ken Henry's proposal to get rid of fringe benefits tax benefits for under-paid workers in community services threatens to decimate the aged care and social services sector," said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert in Perth today.
"While, on the face of it, the idea of simplifying the tax system and reducing the rorting of fringe benefits by well-paid executives seems like a good idea - the reality is that the current FBT arrangements sustain the continuing viability of essential community services."
"In the absence of a comprehensive program to address the manner in which social services are funded, simply removing FBT is likely to result in many of the not-for-profit organisations providing front-line services to Australians shedding large numbers of staff and many services being shut down or seriously scaled back," said Senator Siewert.
"Simply proportionately increasing existing commonwealth funding is not going to plug the gap, as the existing fringe benefits also increase the value gained from charitable donations and direct state funding of services.
"In other words, cutting FBT will deliver a triple whammy, " she said.
"In effect cutting FBT undermines funding from the Commonwealth, States and public donations. When an ordinary Australian drops a couple of bucks into a tin on a street corner the existing tax arrangements help that dollar to go further.
"The simple fact is the NFP sector delivers billions of dollars worth of services to Australians on a shoe-string budget."
"While it might be nice to think that governments might commit to paying the true value of the social services delivered by these charitable organisations, realistically we know this is not going to happen any time soon.
"The clear pattern over the last two decades has been for governments to demand more for less with increasing amounts of red tape.
"Ultimately it is the responsibility of governments to deliver these essential social services - if charities start falling over and are forced to hand back services, we can expect much poorer outcomes at significantly greater cost to the taxpayer."
Senator Siewert called on the Rudd Government to address the latest figures on the contribution of the not-for-profit sector to the Australian economy and to announce how many billions of dollars it intends to add to recurrent budgets for aged care and community services.
"What we need from tax reform in community services is more than a theoretical exercise - it needs to assess and deliver practical tax reforms.
"A simpler, fairer and more transparent tax relief mechanism that only applied to genuine not-for-profit community services or lower paid workers would be a better alternative to simply throwing out the baby with the bathwater," she said.
"Australia's not-for-profit aged care sector is already struggling to get by, with massive increases in services likely to be needed in coming decades. For many services, particularly those in rural and regional locations, cutting FBT could be the final straw," concluded Senator Siewert.
Media contact: Chris Twomey 0407 725 025 

"Dr Ken Henry's proposal to get rid of fringe benefits tax benefits for under-paid workers in community services threatens to decimate the aged care and social services sector," said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert in Perth today.


"While, on the face of it, the idea of simplifying the tax system and reducing the rorting of fringe benefits by well-paid executives seems like a good idea - the reality is that the current FBT arrangements sustain the continuing viability of essential community services."


"In the absence of a comprehensive program to address the manner in which social services are funded, simply removing FBT is likely to result in many of the not-for-profit organisations providing front-line services to Australians shedding large numbers of staff and many services being shut down or seriously scaled back," said Senator Siewert.


"Simply proportionately increasing existing commonwealth funding is not going to plug the gap, as the existing fringe benefits also increase the value gained from charitable donations and direct state funding of services.


"In other words, cutting FBT will deliver a triple whammy, " she said.


"In effect cutting FBT undermines funding from the Commonwealth, States and public donations. When an ordinary Australian drops a couple of bucks into a tin on a street corner the existing tax arrangements help that dollar to go further.


"The simple fact is the NFP sector delivers billions of dollars worth of services to Australians on a shoe-string budget."


"While it might be nice to think that governments might commit to paying the true value of the social services delivered by these charitable organisations, realistically we know this is not going to happen any time soon.


"The clear pattern over the last two decades has been for governments to demand more for less with increasing amounts of red tape.


"Ultimately it is the responsibility of governments to deliver these essential social services - if charities start falling over and are forced to hand back services, we can expect much poorer outcomes at significantly greater cost to the taxpayer."


Senator Siewert called on the Rudd Government to address the latest figures on the contribution of the not-for-profit sector to the Australian economy and to announce how many billions of dollars it intends to add to recurrent budgets for aged care and community services.


"What we need from tax reform in community services is more than a theoretical exercise - it needs to assess and deliver practical tax reforms.


"A simpler, fairer and more transparent tax relief mechanism that only applied to genuine not-for-profit community services or lower paid workers would be a better alternative to simply throwing out the baby with the bathwater," she said.


"Australia's not-for-profit aged care sector is already struggling to get by, with massive increases in services likely to be needed in coming decades. For many services, particularly those in rural and regional locations, cutting FBT could be the final straw," concluded Senator Siewert.


Media contact: Chris Twomey 0407 725 025 

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