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Government Advisory Groups – July and August 2018

In July and August 2018 SCoA has represented members at two important federal government advisory group meetings.

Community Services Advisory Group (CSAG)

The CSAG meeting, hosted by Department of Social Services, brings together representatives of a number of peak bodies and service providers across the DSS portfolio including SCoA, FECCA, ACOSS, Relationships Australia, Carers Australia and many others.

At the meeting, DSS representatives discussed with attendees a range of ongoing and upcoming developments that may impact the sector. These included:

  • Try Test and Learn Fund – applications for the second tranche of funding close on 28 September 2018. Importantly, anyone who was unsuccessful in tranche 1 can apply again in tranche 2, taking on board any feedback provided.
  • Social Impact Investing – work is currently underway to design a trial of social impact investing measures, as announced under the Federal Budget.
  • Newly Arrived Residents’ Waiting Period – this is still before the Senate, however DSS is prepared to roll out the changes, which will impact migrants seeking social support under a range of payment options, as soon as, and if, the measures pass parliament. It is not expected that the measure would be back-dated if passed.
  • National Office of Child Safety – this relatively new initiative is established to pursue child safety imperatives across a range of services and institutions. SCoA suggested that particular focus must be on the impact on children from migrant and refugee backgrounds of particular government policies.
  • Data Exchange – work continues to promote the Partnership Approach for DEX, though it is noted that the upcoming SETS Funding makes it a requirement for all funded settlement service providers. Considerable feedback was provided on the practicalities of DEX and DSS has offered to work with SCoA and other affected parties to better align DEX reporting requirements where possible.
  • Community Grants Hub – the government is largely happy with the performance of the Community Grants Hub, though they acknowledge there have been some delays in scheduling grant rounds. Attendees raised concerns over the impact that delays have on funded businesses, and the particular need to ensure existing grants are extended appropriately to cover any time delays.

SCoA thanks DSS for this important ongoing engagement and the opportunity to provide feedback.

National Multicultural Advisory Group (NMAG)

In August the Department of Human Services convened the NMAG in Canberra for a two day meeting on service delivery, design and improvement. SCoA was represented at this meeting by our CEO Nick Tebbey and NSW Board Member Lulu Tantos.

Day one of the NMAG meeting covered a range of issues impacting CALD communities in Australia, providing attendees an opportunity to give crucial feedback on service design and delivery. Areas discussed included:

  • Refugee Services¬†– discussion about the interplay between settlement services and Centrelink requirements, as well as the effectiveness of the Job Seeker Classification Index
  • Multicultural Servicing Strategy – SCoA and others present reinforced the role of DHS Multicultural Service Officers (MSO) and stressed the importance for adequate funding. It was suggested the DHS model of engagement should be replicated across multiple government departments.
  • Digital Services – considerable discussion on the government’s ongoing move to digital servicing for clients and the need to preserve adequate service offerings for those who are unable or unwilling to access digital services
  • Form simplification¬† – SCoA and others commended DHS on its commitment to simplifying and reducing the amount of red tape on clients accessing services.

On day two, a number of other representatives of the settlement and CALD sectors joined the meeting, including a number of SCoA members. The focus on this day was how DHS is improving a range of services and the systems that underpin them. Attendees had the opportunity to feed in to design and evaluation, providing considerable feedback to DHS on the impact of certain elements of service delivery on multicultural communities.

Overall, NMAG provides a crucial opportunity for SCoA, on behalf of its members, to provide direct feedback to DHS on multiple issues and we thank DHS for providing this opportunity.

If any members have concerns about any of the matters above, or any other aspect of the DHS portfolio you are encouraged to direct them to the SCoA National Office so that we can raise them on your behalf.