South Australians on low incomes and living with disabilities should be prioritised for concessions support, according to a new SACOSS report.
The report is based on findings from a community panel of 33 South Australians from a diverse range of backgrounds, which was formed last year to make a contribution to the state government's review of concessions.
The community panel recognised that concessions are an important tool for addressing cost of living challenges for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
Its main finding was that people on low incomes and living with disabilities should be prioritised for concessions eligibility before criteria such as age, housing status or contribution to society.
These issues are often interlinked, but eligibility for many concessions is currently based on age, Centrelink categories or other factors, rather than being based primarily on income or need.
The panel's priority areas for concessions support are:
- Energy and water bills
- General cost of living
- Medical assistance
- Public transport
The community panel was made up of a cross-section of everyday South Australians, including a mix of genders, ages, locations and backgrounds, as well featuring people with and without direct experience of concessions. The panel process involved initial briefings from community stakeholder groups and a preliminary survey, a one-day workshop in September, and follow-up online sessions and surveys.
This produced a Citizens' Statement on the principles of concessions, and a separate statement applying those principles to ambulance, transport and energy concessions.
Human Services Minister the Hon. Nat Cook MP addressed the September workshop and has received the report as a contribution to the government's current review of concessions.
The full report (and accompanying supplementary report on survey results) is available on the SACOSS website.
The community panel process was commissioned by SACOSS and supported by Mannifera and the Wyatt Trust. It was facilitated by democracyCo.
Quotes attributable to SACOSS Acting CEO Dr Rebecca Tooher
SACOSS' major report on concessions in 2021 found that the state's concessions system was broken. Amongst other things, it was a system consisting of poor targeting, barriers to access and poverty premiums.
This panel and its findings were important because it is represents much more than simply restating what we already know are the problems - the community members put considerable time and thought into what will make the system better.
We know the government is reviewing concessions now, and our hope is that the funding necessary for improving the system is in the next state budget. We also hope that the government takes into account the views of the Community Panel in making these improvements.