Energy is an essential service and with increased costs has become a financial burden on growing numbers of households and consumers in Australia. Uniting Care is concerned for these people and advocates strongly for appropriate energy regulation. Anecdotal evidence from our work with communities nationally, indicates utilities are one of the top three issues facing households.

This brief submission responds to the Australian Energy Regulator’s (AER) draft guideline regarding “Shared Assets”.

UnitingCare Australia has been pleased to be involved in the Better Regulation program, of which this guideline is part.

Stewardship of our environment is a fundamental responsibility of societies both in the short-term and for the benefit of future generations. We strongly support the notion of the triple bottom line for government community and business organisations whereby economic stewardship, environmental stewardship and the nurture of citizens (social stewardship) are equally valued and reported on publicly.

UnitingCare Australia supports the improvement of the collection of financial data from aged care providers if it is carried out in an open, fair, transparent and accountable manner by governments.

The data collection should not impose significant additional administrative burdens on providers and should seek to streamline data collection where possible. As a first principle data already available to the Commonwealth should be utilised before imposing further red tape on providers.

A comprehensive cost of care study is supported but consideration should be given to constructing this in a way that minimises the workload for providers and provides timely and accurate information (such as through a 3 month sample).

Data collection must be consistent with the requirements of other bodies (the ACNC, ASIC, Accounting Standards and the Aged Care Legislation). Necessary changes are supported provided that they ultimately benefit consumer and the viability of services that support older people.

UnitingCare Australia appreciates the opportunity to provide comment on the Social Security Amendment (Supporting More Australians into Work) Bill 2013.

This submission is premised on the view that all Australians have the right to live a decent life, which UnitingCare Australia defines as: being able to access appropriate food, clothing and healthcare; safe and secure housing; meaningful work, education, rest and enjoyment; and the opportunity to participate in and contribute to communities.

UnitingCare Australia believes that the charitable community services sector is an important partner for government and other sectors in the delivery of services and support to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our society. Many policy and legislative decisions, although not specifically targeted at our sector, impact on the Commonwealth’s relationship with us.

UnitingCare Australia welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Dementia and Veterans’ Supplements in Aged Care Consultation Paper of April 2013. We welcome the recognition of the additional care needs of people with dementia and mental health issues receiving support from residential and home care services. The following comments and questions of clarification are provided on the Consultation Paper.

This submission provides our assessment of the Exposure draft of the Charities Bill 2013 and associated Bills, building on the comments we made in our December 2011 submission to the consultation on ‘A Definition of Charity’.

We believe that the Exposure draft of the Charities Bill 2013 and associated Bills, while sound in structure and purpose, needs to be amended so as to provide greater clarity and certainty in the following key areas: the disqualifying purpose; application of the presumption of public benefit; and the treatment of “infrastructure” entities which support charities in fulfilling their purpose and mission.

UnitingCare Australia welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Second Draft Discussion Paper regarding the Accommodation Pricing Guidelines, Significant Refurbishment of residential Aged Care Services, Fees and Payments Principles 2013, Subsidy Principles 2013, Aged Care (Maximum Accommodation Payment Amount) Determination 2013.

We have been an active participant in the consultation processes to establish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and the Commonwealth Government’s wider not-for-profit (NFP) reform agenda.