Thank you to the Committee for providing the opportunity to comment on this Bill.

As noted in UnitingCare Australia’s written submission, we’ve previously indicated support for reform of Social Services legislation when it is informed by a thorough analysis of the needs of individuals and families who access the welfare system. It’s paramount that the impacts of any reform are thoroughly and transparently assessed prior to changes being implemented that may result in adverse impacts on the most vulnerable members of our community.

We thank the Committee for the opportunity to make a submission to the inquiry into the above Bill.

UnitingCare Australia supports a review of payment architecture and payment adequacy and the need for both to be placed in the context of lifetime wellbeing, delivering against the fundamental principle that payments should reflect need. Ideally, we would support this review taking place in the context of a broader tax and transfer reform framework.

As one of the largest networks of community services providers in Australia, the UnitingCare workforce is experiencing first-hand the challenge presented by Australia’s ageing population, with more older individuals requiring increasingly complex support, rehabilitation and care in their own home or a residential setting, in particular with the increasing demand of dementia.

This submission adds further to the comments and recommendations made in our original submission1 to the taxation review. In making this second submission we have been mindful of the key findings of the 2014 Financial System Inquiry and of the 2015 Intergenerational Report with regard to the economic and social challenges of an ageing population and also the Productivity Commission’s superannuation policy post-retirement research paper.

UnitingCare Australia welcomes this opportunity to provide feedback to the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) on issues regarding access to care for supported residents. We note that one thing that is not clear in the discussion paper is a description of what the policy problem is that the review is designed to address. As we note below, the absence of an objective, and the lack of data about demand in the sector, together have made it difficult in places to comment in any detail.

We take this opportunity to provide feedback to the Committee on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Bill 2015.

This bill contains several measures that UnitingCare Australia supports, consistent with our position that budget expenditure should be targeted to those most vulnerable.

We take this opportunity to provide feedback to the Committee on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (No. 2) Bill 2015, specifically regarding the measure to continue the Income Management programme and provision of the BasicsCard for an additional two years.

UnitingCare Australia believes that the Senate should oppose these measures. There is no substantive evidence to demonstrate that compulsory income management has resulted in any measurable reduction in social harm through its implementation to date. The lack of data that directly measures the impact of income management separately from other policy interventions, has prevented evaluation of compulsory income management as a stand- alone strategy.

We take this opportunity to provide feedback to the Committee on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Youth Employment and Other Measures) Bill 2015. The feedback that follows relates to specific provisions of the Bill and details UnitingCare Australia’s response in relation to these.

Welfare payment eligibility should not be tightened for people seeking work

This submission provides commentary on the taxation issues that are critical to the sustainability of community services and those that UnitingCare Australia believes are vital to the health of our nation and the people we serve.

Taxation is an important mechanism which enables governments to collect sufficient revenue to fund critical infrastructure and provide the necessary services and supports so that everyone in Australia can have access to a reasonable standard of living. It also enables individuals and organisations to contribute to the well-being and stability of our society.

Stewardship of our environment is a fundamental responsibility of societies both in the short- term and for the benefit of future generations. UnitingCare Australia’s principal interest in energy regulation arises because energy is an essential service with rising costs that are putting significant financial pressure on growing numbers of households.