Justice, Opportunity and Shared Wealth for all South Australians

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Media Releases

High costs and massive energy debts: AER Report paints gloomy picture of SA’s energy costs

Thursday, 13 December 2018

SACOSS has greeted today’s performance report from the Australian Energy Regulator with enormous disappointment, noting that low income households were likely to be experiencing even greater hardship.

SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley said, “This report again confirms that SA has the country’s highest priced standard offers and thus the least affordable energy in the National Electricity Market (NEM), with 11.2% of a low income household’s disposable income being spent on electricity.

SACOSS welcomes SA Parliament Committee support for unemployed

Thursday, 6 December 2018

The South Australian Council of Social Service has welcomed the release of the interim report of the Parliament Select Committee on Poverty in South Australia. The Committee made six recommendations to alleviate poverty in South Australia, with the first being a call on the Federal Government to make a meaningful increase to the rate of the Newstart Allowance (and other base allowances) as a matter of urgency.

Survey shows South Australians in poverty are dreading Christmas

Friday, 30 November 2018

ACOSS and SACOSS will outline the results of an online survey of Newstart and Youth Allowance respondents, which has found:
• 90% of South Australian respondents were not looking forward to the holiday season due to the cost
• 81% of SA respondents felt their low income would prevent them from being able to spend time with family and friends over the holiday period.

Petrol cost and volatility hitting poor and regional consumers hardest: Instead of handwringing on prices, Gov needs to act on affordability

Thursday, 22 November 2018

SACOSS is today releasing our latest cost of living report highlighting the impact of high petrol prices and their volatility, particularly on lower income and regional consumers. 

SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley says, “Over the last two years fuel prices in Adelaide have risen 30% (as per the latest figures from the end of the September quarter), and the average South Australian household now spends around $50 a week on petrol.”

“We’ve seen fuel prices go up and down since then, and volatility is hard to budget for – with sharp hikes creating hardship for people who don’t have extra money to cover unexpected increases.”

“This adds to the financial difficulty we already see confronting low income people. These drivers don’t always have the cash to fill up on lower-price days. Moreover, this is especially challenging for regional drivers who have fewer choices when it comes to shopping around.”

20,000 more households to get help with energy: SACOSS applauds government’s decision to extend audit scheme

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

SACOSS has welcomed the State Government’s announcement today to expand the Retailer Energy Efficiency Scheme, which should see approximately 20,000 extra households eligible for free home energy audits. 

“Before the election SACOSS had called for an expansion of the REES to help 'the working poor’ so we applaud this decision,” says Jo De Silva, SACOSS Senior Policy Adviser in Energy.

Huge SA income boost of $288M if Newstart raised, says Deloitte

Monday, 17 September 2018

Report shows raising Newstart & Youth Allowance will boost jobs, state taxes

South Australia’s total disposable income would increase by $288 million if the Federal Government raised Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments by $75 per week.  This is according to a report by Deloitte Access Economics, released today by The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), with support from SACOSS and the state and and territory councils of social service.

 

Budget delivers on election promises but risks our long-term future

Tuesday, 4 September 2018
The Marshall Government's first State Budget contains swings and roundabouts, says the SA Council of Social Service.
 
"We appreciate that the Budget provides funding for election promises, including modest increases to some important programs for disadvantaged South Australians, " says SACOSS CEO Ross Womersley, "but at the same time we are concerned about cuts to a number of services."
 

Poverty figures paint a poor picture

Friday, 24 August 2018

Mahatma Gandhi famously said that a society can be measured by how it treats its most vulnerable.
While it follows from this maxim that lifting people out of poverty should be a priority, the reality is that governments rarely shine a light on this issue. 

The issues are complex, and political life cycles often result in short term policy settings and programs which don’t give real and lasting solutions. 
So we applaud the SA Parliament which is currently examining the extent of poverty in South Australia.

Cost of living pressures bite hardest on unemployed: Report asks Steven Marshall to call for increase to Newstart

Monday, 6 August 2018
SACOSS’s latest Cost of Living Report released today focuses on the struggle of South Australians living on the Newstart and other basic income support payments, and calls on SA Premier Steven Marshall to add the state government’s voice to the chorus of calls to increase these inadequate social security payments.
 
The SACOSS report, which includes examples of household budgets of five people trying to live on Newstart, finds that: 

Latest internet use data shows SA still lagging- 15% of South Australians don’t use the internet

Monday, 4 June 2018

A Fact Sheet released by the South Australian Council of Social Service shows that 15% of South Australians don’t use the internet, 17.5% of South Australian households don’t have internet access at home, and South Australia lags behind the Australian average in most categories of internet use. The Fact Sheet is based on the latest ABS data on household internet use.

Key findings:

SACOSS Leaders Debate on Social Issues

Thursday, 1 March 2018

On Tuesday 27 February, SACOSS hosted a Leaders Debate on Social Issues at the Science Exchange in Adelaide. 

The Premier Jay Weatherill, Opposition Leader Stephen Marshall, and SA Best Leader Nick Xenophon gave short opening addresses, before answering questions from SACOSS, and then questions submitted to SACOSS prior to the debate from audience and sector members.

Hospitals squeezing out other healthcare

Thursday, 1 March 2018

A SACOSS analysis today reveals a dramatic fall in funding to non-hospital health services in South Australia. 

Using the most recent figures on total health funding by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, SACOSS has looked at the breakdown of hospital vs non-hospital health spending. 

According to these AIHW figures (2017), two-thirds of all SA government health expenditure goes on hospitals. Our analysis shows that non-hospital health expenditure (which includes community and public health, dental services and research) has fallen from 40% of all SA government recurrent health expenditure in 2008-09 to 30% in 2015-16. 

Consumers could be winners in energy election

Thursday, 22 February 2018

The South Australian Council of Social Service has welcomed the latest round of energy policy announcements today, and says that consumers could end up being the real winners in a state election focused on energy. 

Nick Xenophon today launched the SA Best Energy Policy  - which includes a community-owned electricity retailer as well as a move to review the energy concession - while the Labor Party announced interest-free loans for household solar energy.

More forced removals an offensive kneejerk reaction: There are much better ways to help kids in danger

Thursday, 22 February 2018

By Ross Womersley, CEO of The South Australian Council of Social Service
 
In light of the heartbreaking alleged rape of a toddler in Tennant Creek the kneejerk reaction –including in a prominent column in The Advertiser today – has been to call for even more Aboriginal children to be removed from their parents. 
 

SACOSS: Labor’s plan on digital a winner

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The South Australian Council of Social Service applauds today’s announcement by Premier Jay Weatherill that a re-elected Labor Government would take steps to bridge the digital divide in South Australia. It is good news for those people struggling with internet access and costs, and vital for ensuring that everyone can participate in the digital economy and society.

South Australia has lagged behind Australia with the second lowest score on the Australian Digital Inclusion Index, and with some 17% of households not accessing the internet (above the national average of 15%).

The SACOSS Cost of Living Report released last week showed that South Australians spend less than the national average on telecommunications and get less value for money – meaning that South Australians are under-utilising telecommunications. Those on low incomes and those looking for work, people with disability, and those in regional areas are particularly disadvantaged in a digital world.

Electric shock: South Australians spend more on telecommunications than on their power bills

Monday, 12 February 2018

The South Australian Council of Social Service has today released its latest Cost of Living Update which shows that South Australians spend more on telecommunications than on electricity - and that like electricity costs, the cost of telecommunications hit those on the lowest incomes hardest. 
 
The SACOSS report, which is based on the official ABS Household Expenditure Survey data, shows that while telecommunications prices have been decreasing (unlike electricity!), telecommunications expenditure has increased with higher demand as government, businesses and culture all increasingly move online.

Laptops and internet are essential parts of education, yet not everyone can afford this technology

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

As children across South Australia return to school, many low income families will be struggling with the costs involved – even in our "free" public schools. 

The ASG organisation, which is the largest provider of education scholarship plans in Australia, provides a handy education costs calculator and based on its own survey data. It estimates that getting back to school in Adelaide could cost on average $2,856 per primary school child per year and $4,865 for a secondary school student in public schools. It is obviously a lot more in faith-based and private schools. This comes at a time when many families are already struggling with other cost of living pressures including electricity, water and housing. 

School fees and extracurricular costs are the largest expenditure items in the school year.  The fees are for material or service costs not tuition fees, but they can still be substantial. The ASG calculator finds that Adelaide parents will pay an average of $1,370 per child for public secondary school fees, although those on low incomes can get some financial assistance with these fees. Costs of extracurricular activities can be even more than the fees, but while highly desirable, some at least are discretionary.

The health of South Australians: it’s a sick joke!

Monday, 22 January 2018

Our 3-point plan for a health turnaround through prevention and promotion

With South Australians sicker than ever, our public health consortium has launched a 3-point plan to restore our position as a leader in community health, and to boost our longevity, health outcomes and quality of life.

In the lead-up to the South Australian election in March, the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) has joined forces with the Public Health Association Australia (PHAA), the Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA), Anti-Poverty Network SA and the People’s Health Movement to highlight the need for urgent action and a prioritising of health spending towards disease prevention.

Parties must relieve pressure on SA's struggling renters

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

With South Australian renters continuing to grapple with high utility costs, a good move would be to reverse a legislative change which hit tenants with water supply charges, writes Ross Womersley, CEO of the South Australian Council of Social Service

Cost of living issues are front and centre in the lead-up to the March state election. 

Yesterday the Government began sending out letters to 169,000 South Australian households inviting them to take up a deal they have negotiated with Origin Energy offering an 18% discount on supply and usage, plus no exit fee.

We believe this is a worthwhile deal. At the same time all parties will need to take further steps to help alleviate the pressure on low-income households and must pay particular attention to the needs of renters.

9 ways politicians can ease cost of living pressures: SACOSS releases utilities affordability policy for state election

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The South Australian Council of Social Service today released its telecommunications, energy and water policy for the SA State Election in March 2018. The peak welfare group is asking all parties to commit to 9 policies which will help those struggling most with cost of living pressures.

Gov reneging on promise to fix our broken child protection system

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

An alliance of child protection advocates has criticised the government for failing to follow-through on its promise to put through a Bill to complement legislation passed in the wake of the Nyland Royal Commission.

Disappointingly, the government has prioritised the passage of the Children’s Protection Law Reform (Transitional Arrangements and Related Amendments) Bill 2017 during next week’s Parliamentary sittings rather than the new Prevention and Early Intervention for the Development and Wellbeing of Children and Young People Bill 2017. 

City of Adelaide is 10th council to support raising Newstart

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Will the LGA follow suit and vote 'Yes' this Thursday?

Anti-Poverty Network SA and SACOSS (SA Council of Social Service) congratulate the City of Adelaide which last night voted to support an increase to Newstart Allowance, the Centrelink payment for job-seekers.

Over the past three months, 10 SA Councils representing 580,000 South Australians have added their voices to the chorus of business, union, and welfare groups calling for Newstart to be raised.

Adelaide has joined the following 9 Councils that have advocated for a raise to Newstart: Clare and Gilbert Valley, Copper Coast, Kangaroo Island, Mount Gambier, Onkaparinga, Playford, Port Adelaide Enfield, Salisbury, and Streaky Bay. 

Being Poor Costs More

Monday, 16 October 2017

SACOSS Anti-Poverty Week Statement highlights 10 “poverty premiums” for low income South Australians

SACOSS is today releasing its 2017 Anti-Poverty Week Statement which highlights the “poverty premiums” paid by South Australians on the lowest incomes. These are the extra costs on those living in poverty that others with higher income or more resources can buy their way out of, avoid or minimise. 

The SACOSS Statement gives examples of 10 poverty premiums in energy, telecommunications, banking, government charges, and in ordinary shopping. The premiums can be extensive with examples of poverty purchases being 30% to 50% more than the cost for those with more money to spend, while other items have more than 5 times the impact on the household budget of those living in poverty.

Liberal’s energy plan: some good measures but not enough for low income people

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

SACOSS welcomes some of the reliability and security measures in Steven Marshall’s energy plan, but we are concerned that the plan’s solar battery centrepiece delivers little benefit for the poorest South Australians.

SACOSS Senior Policy Officer Jo De Silva says, “The Liberal Party has today announced a $100 million Home Storage Subsidy Scheme but people on very low incomes cannot afford to install solar panels, and therefore won’t be able to take advantage of the $2500 subsidy.”

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