In this submission “UnitingCare” and “UnitingCare agencies” refer to three particular UnitingCare network agencies, Blue Care in Queensland, Uniting Aged Care Victoria and Tasmania and Uniting Church Homes in Western Australia.
UnitingCare has a unique value proposition as a major actor in the employment services market in Australia. It is particularly well placed to meet the challenge of assisting highly disadvantaged unemployed people with disabilities to make the transition into the workforce and to sustain good employment outcomes.
The tax system provides a mechanism through which the Government can contribute to improving the economic participation and wellbeing of all Australians, and ensure the resources available are deployed to meet the needs and improve the life chances and opportunities of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our communities. Working in partnership with the community, government assistance should be carefully targeted at providing ongoing and genuine support for those that experience hardship, deprivation and exclusion. Taxation policy settings should maximise the capacity of not-for-profit social services to fulfil their role of providing ongoing and genuine support, and leveraging non-government sources of funding and activity.
There are range of key themes and recommendations contained in this submission which we consider important in the overall scope of this study. One of the key challenges for the Productivity Commission (Commission) will be to place an appropriate value on a sector which is large and extremely diverse. We recommend that any assessment acknowledge both the direct and indirect contributions of the sector.
This submission is premised on the view that all Australians have a right to live a decent life, which we define as being able to access appropriate food, clothing and healthcare; safe and secure housing; meaningful work, education, rest and enjoyment; and the opportunity to participate in and contribute to communities.
In providing disability employment services, UnitingCare agencies connect the social justice concerns of the Uniting Church with the role and function of providing social services in partnership with communities and with governments to ensure all people have the means and opportunities to live a decent life which we define as being able to access appropriate food, clothing and healthcare; safe and secure housing; meaningful work, education, rest and enjoyment; and the opportunity to participate in and contribute to communities.
In this submission UnitingCare Australia represents the UnitingCare services that provide specialised problem gambling services across Australia, and work closely with people affected by problem gambling in urban, regional, rural and remote communities in programs that deliver emergency relief, financial counselling, prisoner support, mental health, relationship, youth, family support and homelessness services.
UnitingCare Australia (UA) is interested in the breadth of ‘small’ energy consumers who face potential difficulties in maintaining access to the essential service of electricity through geographic, income or cultural barriers. This concern extends to residential, community sector and small business customers.
UnitingCare provides services and supports in all states and territories to people living with a disability and their carers and families through a wide range of programs and initiatives. Many of these are specifically targeted at people living with a disability, many others have a broader target and support clients who are living with a disability – such as accommodation and housing support, financial services, employment programs, family support programs and respite care. This provides UnitingCare with a very broad understanding of the needs of, and constraints faced by people living with a disability and their carers and families throughout their lifetimes. This understanding informs this submission which draws on the experience and expertise of staff in the UnitingCare network throughout Australia. It highlights key issues faced by people who are ageing with a disability, and provides examples of promising practices in this area from UnitingCare service providers, and the broader service community in Australia and overseas.
UnitingCare applauds the Australian Government‟s commitment to developing a National Disability Strategy to enhance the quality of life and increase economic and social participation for people with disability and their carers. We support the Government‟s view that the current system is not meeting the needs of people living with a disability and their families and carers, and we believe that a paradigm shift is required to create the best solutions to improve support services for people with disability.