Justice, Opportunity and Shared Wealth for all South Australians

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State Election 2018

SACOSS State Election Campaign

Elections provide opportunities to seek commitments and policy outcomes on a range of issues of concern to our sector and to vulnerable and disadvantaged South Australians.

The South Australian state election is on 17 March 2018 and SACOSS has developed a platform of policies across 7 broad areas. While most of the policy proposals are modest, they are based on our areas of policy expertise and the experience of our sector in working with vulnerable people in those areas. We are seeking support from all parties and candidates for these policies and (just as we did in the 2014 state election) in the last week of the campaign we will publish a Report Card on how the major parties have responded to our proposals. The platform covers:

Leaders Debate on Social Issues

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.

The full video recording of the SACOSS Leaders' Debate on Social Issues held on Tuesday 27 February at The Science Exchange is now available. Watch online here (link is external)


Digital Inclusion

Digital inclusion is about social and economic participation in a digital world, ensuring that all people can make full use of digital and online technologies to improve skills and work opportunities, enhance their quality of life, and increase wellbeing across the whole society. However, there is a "digital divide" where not all people can access, afford or use the technologies, and South Australia rates below the national average for digital inclusion.

​SACOSS is calling on all parties in this election to commit to:

  • A comprehensive approach to digital inclusion with:
    • All parties having a set of election policies aimed at addressing digital disadvantage; and
    • A commitment to develop and implement a state-wide digital inclusion plan
  • Specific initiatives to increase the provision of free public wi-fi in areas of digital disadvantage
  • Making all sa.gov.au websites free (unmetered data) to users
  • Funding for increased SA regional data in the Australian Digital Inclusion Index
  • Funding for an audit of digital technology usage and literacy and to build digital capacity in the community services sector in SA
  • Providing online tertiary education programs for prisoners to facilitate rehabilitation, digital inclusion and post-release life chances
  • Providing an “offline service guarantee” that all government policies and services will remain easily accessible with no disadvantage to those who are not digitally connected.

For further detail, download SACOSS' State Election 2018 Digital Inclusion Policy

Cost of Living

Utilities (energy, water and telecommunications) are essential services, significant costs in the household budget, and regressive expenditures in that those on lower incomes spend proportionately more of their income on them than those on higher incomes. Cost of living will be a key issue in the state the election and SACOSS expects that all parties will not only address the issue, but will focus policies on those who are struggling most with affordability.

SACOSS is calling on all parties in this election to commit to the following:


  • Modernising the energy concession so it is paid as a percentage of the bill
  • Providing a land tax concession for residential landlords investing in government approved energy efficient activities
  • Enabling a greater proportion of low income energy consumers to have access to free energy audits to help reduce energy consumption
  • Ensuring targeted energy audits are only delivered by community sector organisations with expertise in managing vulnerability
  • Introducing a residential energy efficiency disclosure scheme


  • Requiring landlords to pay water supply charge (unless otherwise agreed with tenant)
  • Revising processes in place to identify, engage and assist water customers in hardship prior to restriction of water supply


  • Committing to specific initiatives to increase the provision of free public wi-fi in areas of digital disadvantage
  • Making all sa.gov.au websites free (unmetered data) to users

For further detail, download SACOSS' State Election 2018 Cost of Living Policy

Children, Young People and Family Wellbeing

An effective child welfare system should support families and children to thrive through measures that react meaningfully, flexibly and considerately to them. It should seek to diminish the wider societal drivers of social disadvantage and dysfunction. Where necessary, it should provide timely intervention, as early as possible, to improve children’s opportunity to thrive. Our current system of child welfare is not fit for purpose and is even failing to prevent abuse and neglect of children and young people. 

SACOSS is calling on all parties in this election to commit to:

  • Legislative reform to ensure a greater focus on early intervention and children’s best interests i.e. addressing gaps in the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 and introducing measures to provide for a whole of government approach to prevention and early intervention for children and families.
  • Funding for Prevention and Early Intervention
  • Establishing a Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People
  • Support for young people in out of home care until 21y.o.

For further detail, download SACOSS' State Election 2018 Children, Young People and Family Wellbeing Policy

Support for the Social Service Sector

The non-government health and community services sector is an important part of the South Australian economy, accounting for more than 3% of Gross State Product and employing more than 30,000 South Australians.  Even more importantly, the sector has a vital role in supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our state. A large part of this work is facilitated by funding from the state government and in the last year substantial steps have been made to remove red tape and provide greater consistency and certainty in funding.

In this election SACOSS is seeking firstly to cement those changes in place, and then to address a key outstanding issue and to assist our sector in dealing with the digital world. SACOSS is calling on all parties to commit to the following:

Funding and Contracting

  • Commit to continuation of the agreed principles for funding of the NFP sector (as enshrined in DPC Circular 044)
  • Commit to continue the Standard Indexation Policy as adopted by Cabinet in 2017
  • Finalise negotiations, adopt and implement the standard Funded Services Agreement and Grants Agreement templates
  • Extend the provisions of the Late Payment of Government Debt (Interest) 2013 Act to all not-for-profit organisations

Other Sector Support

  • Funding for an audit of digital technology usage and literacy and to build digital capacity in the community services sector in SA

For further detail, download SACOSS' State Election 2018 Sector Support Policy

Gambling Harm Prevention

In 2015-16 South Australians bet somewhere in the vicinity of $10bn on gaming, racing and sports betting, with total losses (ie. net expenditure) of over $1bn. Around half of this expenditure was on poker machines, which are particularly dangerous consumer products designed for addiction. Gambling addiction and harm effects not only problem gamblers, but also their families, employers, and the wider community.

In this election SACOSS is calling for all parties to commit to:

  • The introduction of $1 per spin bet limits on poker machines
  • Reducing the number of poker machines to the previous announced target of 12,000
  • Removal of EFTPOS machines from gaming areas
  • Funding for advocacy for consumer protection and gambling harm prevention measures.

For further detail, download SACOSS' State Election 2018 Gambling Harm Prevention Policy

Health, Housing and Justice

The non-government community services sector provides a range of supports and services to vulnerable and disadvantaged people in health, housing and justice, including through primary health services, support groups for people with particular medical problems, community housing, or community legal services and offender rehabilitation.

In this election, SACOSS is supporting the advocacy of our sector organisations in health, housing and justice, particularly as expressed through the specialist peak bodies in those areas. In addition we are putting forward proposals which arise directly from our own particular research and policy development, and calling for all parties to:


  • Establish and resource a “Connected Health for All Strategy”
  • Create a discrete full-time role of Chief Public Health Officer, separate from that of the Chief Medical Officer
  • Establish (and construct a long term evaluation of) two non-government Comprehensive Primary Health Care Centres (CPHCCs) in South Australia
  • Prioritise mental health by resourcing and fully implementing the SA Mental Health Strategic Plan, with a continuing role for the SA Mental Health Commission in leading the plan and reporting on progress


  • Stop the current decline of public housing and developing a long term strategy to rebuild the public housing estate


  • Replace the current flat-rate traffic and summary fines with ones based on a proportion of the offenders’ income
  • Provide online tertiary education programs for prisoners to facilitate rehabilitation, digital inclusion and post-release life chances

For further detail, download SACOSS' State Election 2018 Health, Housing and Justice Policy

Tax and Expenditure

SACOSS has long advocated for a fair and sustainable state revenue base to fund vital public infrastructure and services. This is particularly important to vulnerable and disadvantaged people because they are more likely to require those services and they have fewer options of being able to access them in the market. However, tax debates at election times quickly become toxic: the provision of services gets lost amid promises of tax cuts, or debates get side-tracked with dubious notions that budgets can be balanced simply by relying on economic growth or cutting government waste.

While our broader agenda for tax reform remains in place, in this election SACOSS is seeking from all parties a commitment that (barring any unforeseen circumstances) they will not support or implement any cut to health and community services in the first two years of government unless that cut has been announced as part of the election campaign.

Given that both Labor had announced cuts to departmental budgets in the Mid-Year Budget review as a result of the loss of revenue from the blocking of the state bank tax, and the other parties promises of tax cuts with an even greater cost to revenue, in early March, SACOSS and 10 other peak bodies in our sector wrote to the Labor, Liberal and SA Best asking them to quarantine our sector from any departmental cuts to funding.

Download: Letter to Premier Weatherill

Download: Letter to Opposition Leader, Steven Marshall

Download: Letter to SA Best Leader, Nick Xenophon

For further detail of our tax and expenditure concerns, download SACOSS' State Election 2018 Tax and Expenditure Policy


The electoral content of this website is authorised by Ross Womersley, 47 King William Road, Unley SA 5061.


Published Date: 
Wednesday, 20 December 2017