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Byron Shire
April 16, 2021

New govt must support fairer and more caring society

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The re-elected coalition government must adopt a more caring and strategic approach with a priority focus on housing and community services for areas of high vulnerability and disadvantage such as the north coast.

The high levels of people who are unemployed, aged, have a disability and receiving
income and parenting support payments is an indication of the disadvantage and
vulnerability in our region.

The risk is that if priorities don’t change with the next government we will see a continuation of vulnerability that can result in intergenerational disadvantage.

Without changes there could be more people living in poverty and excluded from full
participation in society.

There must be a focus on investing in communities to deliver fairness and improved
opportunity to participate in all aspects of life.

It’s time to look at the needs of this community and prepare for the future, with a more caring and compassionate approach.

In this election campaign the Greens prioritised a boost in social housing with funding of
$4.5 billion to build 20,000 homes over 4 years.

With some of the longest waiting lists in NSW, there should be a significant increase on the north coast.

The lack of affordable housing is threatening the health and wellbeing of the community and putting many at risk of homelessness, especially the young, the elderly and Aboriginal community members.

Many older people living in caravan parks are facing unaffordable rent increases or eviction, with no other options available. NSW needs new legislation to provide the security and affordability required for our valued older citizens living in parks and villages.

The Greens are also calling for secondary dwellings grants to assist property owners to
build for the aged and disabled.

We need to deliver appropriately designed and dedicated housing to allow people to stay
living in community rather than being forced to move away from their neighbours and

Funding support at a local level would grow the stock of housing needed and
retain community cohesion.

With an ageing population, the NDIS, domestic violence, child protection concerns and a significant Aboriginal population, the region needs additional workers in the community services area to address and prevent risk for the most vulnerable in our community.

Some of the disadvantage experienced in the region could be overcome with a greater
investment in early intervention services and additional workers.

The community service sector is in need of additional staff and the Greens are calling for a training financial assistance scheme to encourage and support more people entering the caring workforce.

The need for increased Aboriginal specialist services is crucial and would create much
needed employment opportunities as well as culturally appropriate services.

Taxis are the main form of transport for some residents who have significant disabilities to
allow them to access medical, health and work opportunities.

The Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme has not been increased for 16 years and this is
grossly unfair.

An increase in this vital service would benefit inclusion for those who are
otherwise disadvantaged, especially in the regions.

Recent funding cuts by the federal government to parent and youth services have shown a lack of foresight and investment in the future, which the NSW Government must work to rectify.

The Greens call on the state government to lobby against the federal government
funding cuts to important programs that support young people at risk and that provide
skills for the transition to adulthood and independent living, and to make up for any shortfall
in federal funding as they have done for pensioner concessions.

The funding cuts to important programs that support new parents are a dangerous move that puts child welfare at risk, and which will end up creating additional social harms and put pressure on state services in child protection, juvenile justice and other sectors.

It’s time to overcome the history of the major parties ignoring the needs of the regions.

While north coast seats were a major focus in this election and coal seam gas was an
especially crucial issue, the well being of north coast communities has been off the radar
for too long.

Without a commitment to social infrastructure investment for the region, there will be
continuing disadvantage.

The true test of a progressive society is how well we care for those in need and plan for the future well being of all of our residents.

The Greens are committed to caring for the most vulnerable in our society. I will be focusing on these issues when parliament resumes, hopefully with two new north coast Greens members in the Legislative Assembly to echo the focus for the region’s communities.

Planning for a more caring community

1. Investment in social housing – announced $4.5 billion to deliver 20,000 new homes
in NSW over 4 years

2. Financial grants for the delivery of appropriately designed secondary dwellings for
older and disabled people – $20,000 per property

3. Care Workforce Strategy – grants to assist people in training in the community
sector – aged, disability and child protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait

4. Residential Parks protection – legislation to secure the rights of people living in
residential parks against high fees and eviction

5. Taxi Transport Subsidy Scheme – increase funding that has been stagnant for 16

6. Youth programs – return funding to crucial youth programs that have been cut by
federal government eg. Links to Learning, Youth Connections and REALskills –
approx. $700,000 for region

Jan Barham, MLC

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