National Community Services Under Strain
13 March 2007 at 2:42 pm
Community services are struggling to meet the public’s demand for help, according to a national survey by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS).
Called Australian Community Sector Survey 2007 the survey found that a lack of funding or resources meant 1 in every 16 people who accessed a service were turned away from community services last year.
ACOSS Director Andrew Johnson says community services are under strain trying to meet the needs of disadvantaged Australians.
He says people who need housing assistance, disability supported accommodation, community legal services, emergency relief and childcare find it particularly difficult to get these services.
ACOSS has urged the Federal Government to use its Budget surplus to address the need for affordable and safe housing, support for people with disabilities, legal and other supports for people in crisis and other essential services such as health and childcare.
Andrew Johnson says that in these good economic times, no Australian should be missing out from the help they need to have a decent quality of life.
ACOSS President Lin Hatfield Dodds says the community and welfare sector currently assists millions of disadvantaged Australians who have complex problems that need a number of solutions.
She says a jobless mother escaping domestic violence, for example, is likely to need emergency housing, counselling, financial and legal help.
Common issues for the community and welfare sector, identified in this ACOSS survey, include funding, staff shortages, a need for greater training, and the complexity of client needs.
It found community services would benefit from a broader, strategic response by Government to support Not for Profit organisations including workforce planning and development, reform of contracting arrangements and investment in research and program development.
The Australian Community Sector Survey 2007 found:
– People who needed and were eligible for services could not get them
– One person was turned away from a service they needed for every 16 people who received a service from agencies last year.
– Some services were particularly under strain with demand outstripping supply.
– Services with the highest percentage of eligible people turned away as a proportion of those assisted were:
– Housing Assistance. 7485 people were turned away (1 person turned away for every 4 who received a service)
– Disability Supported Accommodation. 264 people were turned away (just under 1 in every 4 people)
– Community Legal Centres. 7,025 people were turned away (just under 1 in every 5 people)
– Child Care. 2,390 eligible people were turned away (1 in every 12 people)
– Financial and material support. 11,467 people were turned away (1 in every 14 people).
ACOSS’s annual Australian Community Sector Survey received responses from 857 community services across Australia in the 12 months to July 2006.
Download the full report from www.acoss.org.au