VCOSS Congress Celebrates 60 Years
14 August 2006 at 1:08 pm
The VCOSS (Victorian Council of Social Service) annual Congress celebrated 60 years of collaboration for social justice this month with the theme ‘Strong Foundations – Working for a Fairer Future’.
VCOSS Chief Executive, Cath Smith says the aim of the anniversary Congress was to bring together the learnings from the development of the community sector in Victoria over more than half a century, and to address contemporary policy and practice challenges posed from outside, inside and across the sector.
Smith says many of the themes that were discussed at the first Congress in 1946 have endured until today including the concept that individual problems should be addressed in a ‘holistic’ or community way.
(The national umbrella organisation ACOSS was established ten years later in 1956.)
She says sixty years ago governments weren’t involved in welfare but today these governments are heavily involved in the charity sector and they rely on the sector to look at issues and identify what governments should be doing.
Smith says the language has changed over the years to include a more ‘human right’s attitude to issues, although the problems of housing, public programs around drug and alcohol abuse and income security have remained constant.
New issues have emerged. Smith says VCOSS is now more involved in policy around transport as low income families gravitate to outer regions were public transport infrastructure is weaker.
The Minister for Victorian Communities, John Thwaites praised the work of VCOSS saying the 60th anniversary was an important milestone.
Thwaites said that the VCOSS budget submission captures the challenges that we face in the community.
The submission says “a sustainable Victoria will need to recognise and strengthen community, family and individual capacities to accommodate change through their own resources – as well as through the provision of community and government support.
The Minister said the implications of this challenge is that if we want sustainable solutions to disadvantage then we need to see the connection between reducing disadvantage and economic growth.
He says the government has provided $250,000 to help VCOSS plan for growth and sustainability in the community sector.
Celebrating 60 Years- snapshot!
The Congress also offered an historical perspective on social policy and practice highlighting the many successes over the decades. The audience heard how back in 1983 VCOSS President (from 1980-1985) Hayden Raysmith convinced Bob Hawke that the community sector had a role to play in economic policy. The point was highlighted with a great photo of the day – a calm looking Hayden deep in discussion with an over-gesticulating Bob Hawke! Maybe VCOSS can post it on its website for those who missed it!
Congress information will soon be posted on the VCOSS website at www.vcoss.org.au.