Group calls for social services shake-up

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NSW needs relief from skyrocketing energy bills, cheaper dental care and an end to no-grounds evictions, a leading social services group says.

People in financial distress should be able to access up to $1600 in electricity vouchers and the government should implement a cashless gaming card to limit poker machine harm, according to the NSW Council of Social Service.

The council has identified eight recommendations as part of its policy platform and urged politicians to sign up to the key reforms ahead of the March 2023 state election.

“The events of the last three years events haven’t been felt evenly,” CEO of NCOSS Joanna Quilty said on Friday.

“We know it’s low-income households and disadvantaged communities who have borne the brunt.

“We have reached a tipping point where families are being hit by rising costs, stagnant wages, and on top of all that, seemingly never-ending natural disasters.”

She said NSW needed investment to would ward off widening gaps in between the rich and poor.

The recommendations include providing energy vouchers of up to $1600, doubling funding for public dental outreach services, ending no-grounds evictions for renters and mandating cashless gaming cards for poker machines.

It also calls for improved funding of neighbourhood centres and the construction of more social housing.

The policy was put together after four years of consultation with frontline services and wider networks.

“We are also calling for extended contract terms and adequate annual indexation for social services organisations,” Ms Quilty said.

“This will allow social services providers to better support those who desperately need consistent and steady help and will provide job security and certainty for the largely female workforce.”


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