ADVOCACY & PARTNERSHIP

OVERVIEW

As part of our commitment to building a more just and compassionate society, we work tirelessly to advocate for reform of the structural causes of poverty and disadvantage.

Through our media presence, advocacy events and campaigns, and strategic partnerships, we have been able to raise awareness of the issues affecting people experiencing disadvantage. By building mutual understanding and influencing positive change in our communities, our advocacy improves the quality of life for the people we assist.

THIS PILLAR OF THE STRATEGIC PLAN 2020-2022 IS UNDERPINNED BY THREE KEY GOALS:

  • Develop clear policy positions underpinned by evidence and consultation
  • Influence the actions of funders and decision-makers through constructive and targeted advocacy to reduce inequality and improve the wellbeing of the people we serve
  • Develop a strong public profile to shape public debate on issues related to people experiencing poverty or disadvantage

Over the past financial year, people’s basic right to have safe, secure housing has continued to be one of the major recurring themes for our advocacy work. 

To this end, the Society has continued its Build Homes, Build Hope campaign calling for 5,000 new social housing dwellings to be built every year for the next decade. 

We have lent our support and participation to campaigns backing Everybody’s Home, Healthy Homes for Renters, Raising the Rate for Good, the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and 150 Days of Action for People Seeking Asylum. 

Our submissions to Government have also been a highly effective advocacy tool. 

Our submission on the NSW property tax proposal helped prompt Treasury to establish a working group with the Society and five other organisations to help shape a hardship scheme for people who may struggle to pay the planned tax. 

The Society made submissions to government on subjects including homelessness, the high rate of incarceration of First Nations Peoples, and coercive control in domestic violence.

We also participated in a number of research projects that will be used to fuel future advocacy endeavours. 

These range from a partnership with the Centre for Social Impact at UNSW to examine the State Government’s existing commitments to develop social housing to work with the Australian Catholic University, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and Lord Somers Camp and Power House to examine the experience of people seeking financial assistance during the pandemic. 

THE REASONS WE ADVOCATE FOR A JUST AND COMPASSIONATE SOCIETY

  • More than 37,000 people experience homelessness in NSW
  • Around 40% of rough sleepers in NSW live outside major cities
  •  There are more than 100,000 adults and children waiting for social housing across the state, but not enough properties to provide them with the safety, security and stability of a place to call home
  • Almost 900,000 people in NSW live below the poverty line – accounting for 13% of the state population

POLICY DEVELOPMENT

In the 2020/21 financial year, we engaged in the following policy processes:

  • Housing Strategy for NSW: As the NSW Government developed a Housing Strategy for NSW, our feedback focused on promoting the availability and affordability of housing for people experiencing poverty and disadvantage over the next 20 years. 
  • Select Committee on the High Level of First Nations People in Custody – The Society’s submission to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the high level of First Nations people in custody, and oversight and review of deaths in custody, urged the NSW Government to give due consideration to recommendations made by previous inquiries, and highlighted opportunities to reduce the number of First Nations people in custody by investing in key services and supports, and reforms to the criminal justice system in NSW. Our CEO, Jack de Groot, and Team Leader, Jake Robertson, were subsequently called to give evidence at an inquiry hearing, presenting an opportunity to share the Society’s firsthand experience of the important of safe, secure and appropriate housing in keeping people out of custody. 
  • Responses to Homelessness Audit – We consulted with frontline workers in our homelessness services across NSW to inform a detailed submissionOur submission acknowledged the NSW Government’s work to reduce and respond to homelessness, particularly in response to COVID-19, but also highlighted what else should be done to reduce the number of people without a place to call home. 
  • As part of the NSW Government’s annual budget process, we prepared a submission highlighting the necessity and value of substantial investment in delivering new social housing across the State. 
  • Joint Select Committee on Coercive Control – In response to the NSW Parliament’s inquiry into coercive control in domestic relationships, the Society submitted that the capacity of our legal system to respond to the nature of abuse that occurs within intimate and family relationships should be strengthened. Invited to appear at an inquiry hearing, Kelsie Hedge, Manager, Homelessness and Housing, shared the Society’s experience supporting women and children leaving violent relationships.
  • Interim Voice Report to the Australian Government – In support of a First Nations Voice to Parliament, the Society’s response to the Interim Voice Report to the Australian Government supported the Uluru Statement from the Heart’s call for a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution. 
  • NSW property tax proposal – As the NSW Government consulted on proposed changes to the NSW property tax system, the Society highlighted the need to ensure a transition to land tax would not adversely impact people who rent, and the need for robust protections for people who may struggle to afford a tax. Treasury NSW subsequently established a working group with the Society and five other organisations to help shape a robust and accessible hardship scheme.  

RESEARCH

Research conducted in the 2020/21 financial year included:

  • A partnership with the Centre for Social Impact at UNSW to examine the NSW Government’s existing commitments to developing additional social housing. 
  • A partnership with the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW to better understand the impact of social housing on tenant well-being. During the year, 32 tenants were interviewed at three of our Social and Affordable Housing sites, with the results presented in an Interim Baseline Report. The research project will run for three years, with tenants reinterviewed in the final year of the project. 
  • In partnership with the Australian Catholic University, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and Lord Somers Camp and Power House, we embarked on a research project examining the service users experiences of seeking financial assistance during the pandemic. This project is due to be completed by June 2022.