SACOSS will host a Citizens’ Panel on State Government Discounts and Rebates today (Sunday 24 September) to consider how to best target and reform energy and water concessions, discounts on transport and health costs, and other concessions. These concessions can add up to more than $1,000 a year for some households and provide vital support for people on low incomes.
However, there are a range of problems with the current system and the government has launched a major review due for completion later this year.
Minister for Human Services, the Hon. Nat Cook MP will address the Citizens’ Panel, as will representatives of SACOSS and the Department of Human Services, and pre-briefings have been provided by other stakeholders.
The Panel will consist of 37 citizens with a diversity of ages, incomes and life experience and has been chosen from a broader panel of “deliberative democracy” volunteers held by democracyCo (who will be running the workshop) and the state government.
The panel will consider issues like which groups should be the priority for concession support, what discounts and rebates should be provided, and how best to manage changes. Should, for instance, concessions be primarily based on factors like age, military service, or incomes – and how should they account fairly for differences between renters and homeowners, share-houses and families, or between people in metropolitan and regional areas?
The aim of the Panel is to produce a Citizens’ Statement which can be presented to government and stakeholders to guide thinking on concessions reform.
Quotes attributable to SACOSS Director Policy and Advocacy Rebecca Tooher:
“SACOSS’ 2021 report on the State of Concessions identified that the current concessions system is broken – but with care and consideration, it is fixable. There are barriers to accessing support and unfairness in some eligibility criteria which excludes many people from much-needed support.
"It is really good that the government is reviewing the system, but we recognise that reform is difficult in terms of capturing the complexity of people’s different needs and navigating priorities when the budget is limited.
"We are sure that the Citizens’ Panel will provide useful input into the government review and help inform public debate on questions about what are the priorities for concessions spending and how we fix the problems in the current system."