Media Releases



Media Release

20 February 2018


UnitingCare Australia supports today’s announcement to tackle elder abuse.

UnitingCare Australia congratulates the Federal, State and Territory Governments for committing to work together to tackle this serious problem of elder abuse in our community.

Elder abuse is a serious issue facing too many vulnerable people and has ongoing negative effects on their lives that ripple through communities.

It is criminal behaviour that is wrong on every level.

For the sake of our elders, we must confront this issue and promote recognition of the value of every individual within our society. As we all age, caring for the most vulnerable in our communities is a shared responsibility and we all must play a part.

Throughout the UnitingCare network, we are appalled at the thought that elder abuse is so prevalent. We offer our complete support in realising the Australian Law Reform Commission’s intent to address this through a nationally consistent framework of safeguards.

For interviews or more information please contact Tom Finnigan at UnitingCare Australia

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Media Release

12 February 2018


New targets urgently needed to Close the Gap on Child Removal.

National Director of UnitingCare Australia, Claerwen Little, said today that action to reverse the growing gap in child removal rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other Australian children was needed immediately.

‘We acknowledge that resetting the Closing the Gap Strategy must be undertaken by Federal, State and Territory governments in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and communities. What we need right now are clear targets to address child protection added to the Closing the Gap strategy.

The Federal Government has a critical role to play in leading, implementing and resourcing a refreshed strategy, and measuring outcomes against clearly-defined targets, both short and long-term.    

We need to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities because they are the people living with these issues every day and the long-term solutions must be driven at a community level with government support.

However, the alarm bells on growth in Indigenous child removal and juvenile detention rates have been ringing for years. We also know that the Out of Home Care system is in too many cases a conduit to juvenile detention.

UnitingCare Australia calls on the Prime Minister to take the lead in reducing the child removal gap by adding child protection targets to the Closing the Gap goals. Also addressing the adverse conditions that place children at increased risk of maltreatment.

For interviews or more information please contact Tom Finnigan at UnitingCare Australia

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UnitingCare Australia calls on Senate to halt harmful Cashless Debit Card experiment

National Director of UnitingCare Australia Claerwen Little says:

‘’When we see that the trial of a new drug is making patients sicker, we call a halt.  The Cashless Debit Card is causing harm – it must be stopped and the $18.9 million a year misspent on it should be redirected to providing programs that really will improve health and well-being in the communities.’’

The stated purpose of income management schemes including the Cashless Debit Card trial, is to reduce the harms caused by alcohol and drug abuse and gambling by limiting the amount available to welfare recipients to spend on them.

There is no credible evidence that this trial has had the effect – alarmingly there is evidence that it may actually be causing harm.

Data obtained under FOI by Melbourne University researcher Dr Elise Klein showed increases in domestic-related assaults and police-attended domestic violence reports since the card was introduced in April 2016.

A Working Paper by Life Course Centre researchers shows that income management in the Northern Territory Intervention was associated with increased incidence of low birthweight babies.

It would be consistent with what we know about the impact of stress associated with chronic financial hardship and loss of the sense of personal agency, to see a causal connection here. 

‘The Senate has decided there is insufficient evidence to extend the trial elsewhere, said Ms Little. ‘UnitingCare Australia calls on it to stop the trial, stop the likely harm and spend the money on something that helps people with problem behaviour.”

The Sexual abuse of any child is intolerable in a civilised society.

Today the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will be handed to the Governor General. It has been a harrowing journey for all the brave survivors with more than 15,000 people contacting the Royal Commission and over 2,500 allegations reported to the police by the Royal Commission. It is a national travesty that so many children have suffered. 

Drug testing removed from Welfare Reform Bill

UnitingCare Australia joins other organisations, doctors, health professionals and addiction medicine specialists in endorsing the removal of the drug testing provisions in the Welfare Omnibus Bill before the Senate in the Australian Parliament today.

14 November 2017 Church Community Service Providers Condemn Welfare Reform Bill
UnitingCare Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia and Anglicare Australia have joined together to condemn the Federal Government’s Welfare Reform Bill saying a majority of the measures contained within the Bill will further punish and demonises people who are already on low incomes and need support.
The Bill (Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017) comes before the Senate tomorrow and the leaders of the major church providers group, whose members provide social services to more than 1.5 million Australians each year, wants Senators to recognise their concerns with the Bill.
Anglicare Australia’s Executive Director Kasy Chambers called on the Parliament to reject the Government’s punitive welfare bill.
“Our Jobs Availability Snapshot shows that people are already competing for jobs that just aren’t there. Forcing them into a demerit system won’t solve that problem,” Ms Chambers said.
“No one can be confident Centrelink could be fair or accurate when doling out demerit points, which can have catastrophic impact people’s lives.
“A recent Senate Inquiry found that Centrelink was already struggling to communicate with people, and had a high error rate when recovering debt. Anyone who has had much to do with Centrelink will see the cruel irony in asking it to manage a demerit points system like this.”
UnitingCare Australia National Director Claerwen Little said she believed a majority of the measures in the Bill constitute an unacceptable expansion of the hoops that those in need have to jump through in order to access assistance, without delivering the outcomes claimed by Government.
“The cost associated with establishment and implementation of the drug testing trials, for example, would be better allocated towards the expansion of alcohol and other drug services that have been proven to deliver positive outcomes for individuals and improve their life trajectories.
Fr Frank Brennan, CEO of Catholic Social Services, said the mandatory drug testing regimes in the Bill would not help people out of drug addiction.
“The Government has not been able to put forward any evidence that this proposed drug testing regime will change behaviour. “'If the Government was really looking for a way of assisting people to ‘get off drugs and back into work', they would start by seeking the advice of the health professionals.
“CSSA believes drug testing all welfare recipients in certain regions will only serve to further marginalise, vilify and drive those battling with addiction further into poverty.
“The Government should support vulnerable people to lead a meaningful life and contribute to society rather than punishing them for having an addiction,” he said.
Catholic Social Services: Lil Bryant-Johnson Ph 0450 302020
Anglicare Australia: Maiy Azize Ph 0434 200 794
UnitingCare Australia: Tom Finnigan Ph 0437 276834


                   Monday 6 November 2017

Christmas Appeal 2017


Target and UnitingCare Australia are aiming to raise $1.5 million this Christmas to improve the lives of thousands of Australians through their annual Christmas Appeal.

Through the generosity of Australians, organisers hope to raise $1.5 million to support the thousands of community services and programs delivered across the Uniting Network. A few dollars could help women and children fleeing domestic violence, people seeking emergency relief or children and families in desperate situations.

Target and UnitingCare Australia have made it easy to contribute by simply purchasing an Appeal bauble for $1 or giving an unwrapped gift at their local Target store.

UnitingCare Australia National Director, Claerwen Little says the cost of living in Australia means people are constantly struggling to make ends meet and that 2017 has been a particularly tough year.

One in six children under the age of 15 are living in poverty in this country,” Ms Little says. “We really do rely on generous people in our community to dig deep, show compassion and support our Appeal this Christmas.”

Managing Director Target Australia Guy Russo says the Appeal supports those in our community who need it most at a very difficult time of year.

“The Target team are proud to be partnering with UnitingCare Australia again this year. This Appeal helps such a vast range of families doing it tough in our community, and we feel privileged to be able to help by providing a place where Australians can give to others,” says Mr Russo.

In 2016 the Appeal raised over $1.2 million and helped support over 45,000 Australian families. This year organisers hope to reach more people who will struggle at Christmas without the generous support from all Australians.

Shoppers are encouraged to donate via purchasing a $1 Appeal bauble at the checkout. All proceeds will be donated to UnitingCare Australia to be distributed across the country. For more information visit

The Target UnitingCare Australia Christmas Appeal launches in all Target stores across the country on 6 November and runs through to 24 December.

For interviews, images or more information please contact:

Tom Finnigan at UnitingCare Australia

p: 02 6181 1005  m: 0437 276 834 e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Grace Kerr at Target Australia

p: 03 5246 2145 e: grace.kerr@target,

Hannah Leech at Target Australia

p: 03 5246 2147 e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Did you know – One in eight people in Australia live in poverty.

-     2.99 million people in Australia (13% of the population) live below the poverty line, after taking account of their household Costs.

-     42% of all households report suffering ‘financial stress’ concerning such indicators as inability to heat their homes, going without meals, struggling to pay utility bills and seeking financial assistance through income support.

-     Single parents experience the highest poverty rates at 33.2% and this been consistent trend across the decade.


UnitingCare Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia and Anglicare have today commended the ALP for its commitment to oppose the Government's proposed drug testing trial of social security recipients and call on other Members and Senators to do the same.

Community service agencies of the Uniting Church make up one of the largest aged care provider networks in the country, with some 200 residential aged care facilities operating around 15,000 aged care beds. It also delivers care and support for thousands of older people who live in their own homes. In total, Uniting Church agencies are responsible for about 10% of community –based and residential services nationally.

‘It’s all about the people,’ said Kerry Boswell, describing her work at the Northern Territory’s Palmerston Community Centre, a part of Somerville Community Services.