The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) met with service providers and community leaders from across the Yorke and North region for its latest Regional Roundtable, held yesterday in Kadina.
A wide range of people joined us from the fields of social services; health, mental health, and alcohol and drug services; disability and personal care support, and support for older people; local government, training and business support services; charitable organisations and more.
“There was a lot of positivity at the Roundtable,” said SACOSS Policy Director Dr Catherine Earl. “The lifestyle, education opportunities, events and tourism in the region were highlighted, in particular, as well as excellent collaboration between service providers, and good relationships with local governments. Also, opportunities for local employment through new and emerging industries such as renewable energies and agri-tech.
“There is a great sense of community, and people are positive about the population growth in the region and the new opportunities it can bring. The people who work here are very committed to providing high quality services and care.
“The Roundtable also presented the opportunity to discuss some of the challenges facing the community, and what could help address them. It was highlighted that mental health services, in particular clinical mental health services, are in short supply, and there is also a shortage of service providers for individualised care packages available through My Aged Care and the NDIS.
"A lack of housing and, in particular, a lack of affordable housing, is another key issue that was highlighted at the Roundtable. While there are significant building developments happening across the region, much of it is for retirement living, and for holiday homes for private use, so it is not housing that is available for the rental market. Discussion at the Roundtable highlighted the need for collaboration between all levels of government and the NGO sector to open up opportunities to expand public and social housing development in the region,” Dr Earl stated.
Digital inclusion was also a key issue on the agenda. SACOSS took the opportunity of the Regional Roundtable to launch three resource guides with a focus on digital inclusion for the Yorke Peninsula council area, Karoonda East Murray and Peterborough. These three areas were forecast to be particularly adversely affected by digital exclusion across the three measurements used to calculate digital inclusion in the Australian Digital Inclusion Index – access, affordability and ability.
“Digital inclusion is about ensuring that everyone is able to make full use of digital technologies, especially now that they are increasingly so critical to accessing and participating in work, education, and services – as well as to staying connected to family and friends.
“SACOSS has been advocating for government action on digital exclusion for several years as part of our work on addressing poverty and inequality, and although some progress has been made, it is clear there is still a lot to do. We know that digital exclusion is an issue across SA, but generally even more so in regional areas of the state.
“We found in working on these resources that many community members and community leaders are acutely aware of the extent that digital exclusion permeates people’s lives – costing them more and keeping them isolated from opportunities to connect that those living in metropolitan areas might take for granted. We want to empower communities to understand the problems that digital exclusion poses and connect with solutions, and to support people to become powerful advocates for their communities.
“Importantly, we also want the State Government to make digital inclusion a top priority, and reflect that with some significant funding investment to help ensure that people across SA are not locked out of opportunities, information and services. We can do better, and we must.”