The community services sector works within a regulatory environment which is often complex, fragmented and resource intense. It requires not-for-profit entities to navigate and comply with a plethora of regulations from all levels government with differing reporting requirements. UnitingCare Australia believes that a national regulator could make a positive improvement to the current regulatory environment if it were to be set up under the following principles:
• The regulator should be an independent agency;
• The regulator should have an educative/ sector support priority, especially during the early years of its operations;
• The financial and operational information required by the regulator should be accepted by other Government agencies (report once use often principle);
• The financial and operational information required by the regulator should be tiered and proportional; and
• The registration of a charity by a national regulator should be recognised across all other jurisdictions for the purpose of any applicable concessions.

This submission represents the views of services in the UnitingCare network that provide services to children, young people and families in communities in every state and territory in Australia.

Agencies in the UnitingCare network provide services and supports in all states and territories to older Australians, their carers and families through a wide range of programs and initiatives in community based and facility-based care. We welcome the opportunity to make a submission to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Caring for Older Australians. As a member of the Campaign for the Care of Older Australians, UnitingCare Australia has said this Inquiry must lead to action and a plan for renewal that can commence in the next term of government. It must prioritise the well being and independence of older people within the health and community care systems and adopt a universal entitlement approach to aged care services.

UnitingCare applauds the Australian Government‟s commitment to developing a National Disability Strategy to enhance the quality of life and increase economic and social participation for people with disability and their carers. We support the Government‟s view that the current system is not meeting the needs of people living with a disability and their families and carers, and we believe that a paradigm shift is required to create the best solutions to improve support services for people with disability.

The purpose of a hardship policy is to assist customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills due to financial distress or hardship to better manage their current and future energy bills. The proposed Retail Law sets out minimum requirements for retailers’ customer hardship policies including ways to identify customers experiencing hardship, early response, flexible payment options, identifying suitable concessions and other programs. The AER now monitors and reports on how the retail companies perform in managing hardship. However, the AER needs indicators to measure these outcomes against.

UnitingCare provides services and supports in all states and territories to people living with a disability and their carers and families through a wide range of programs and initiatives. Many of these are specifically targeted at people living with a disability, many others have a broader target and support clients who are living with a disability – such as accommodation and housing support, financial services, employment programs, family support programs and respite care. This provides UnitingCare with a very broad understanding of the needs of, and constraints faced by people living with a disability and their carers and families throughout their lifetimes. This understanding informs this submission which draws on the experience and expertise of staff in the UnitingCare network throughout Australia. It highlights key issues faced by people who are ageing with a disability, and provides examples of promising practices in this area from UnitingCare service providers, and the broader service community in Australia and overseas.

UnitingCare Australia (UA) is interested in the breadth of ‘small’ energy consumers who face potential difficulties in maintaining access to the essential service of electricity through geographic, income or cultural barriers. This concern extends to residential, community sector and small business customers.

This submission is written in response to the National Standards for Out of Home Care Consultation Paper. It answers the five consultation questions provided in the paper and additionally recommends the establishment of a National Children’s Commissioner to oversee the national OOHC standards.

The submission provides a review of the issues that have been identified by the Uniting Care network throughout Australia. It provides an analysis and recommendations that address the terms of reference which broadly fall into the following categories:
• Matching funding to care needs;
• Funding outcomes for providers;
• Documentation and administrative arrangements;
• Design issues, including the role of health professionals; and
• Interface with other elements of aged care.

In this submission UnitingCare Australia represents the UnitingCare services that provide specialised problem gambling services across Australia, and work closely with people affected by problem gambling in urban, regional, rural and remote communities in programs that deliver emergency relief, financial counselling, prisoner support, mental health, relationship, youth, family support and homelessness services.