New ACOSS Chief Looks to Fairer Australia
15 September 2010 at 2:33 pm
New ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie believes the formation of the new Australian Government is a unique opportunity to deliver fairer and more equitable outcomes for people around the country.
And the former human rights lawyer agrees that the timing of her appointment, just before the federal election,means that she has taken up the position when new and exciting opportunities for profound reform are opening up.
Dr Goldie says that from the beginning of the Federal Election campaign, ACOSS urged a stronger focus on how policy commitments would deliver greater equality for everyone, particularly those who are living on the edges and in poverty.
She says ACOSS is concerned that there was not enough attention given to support for people struggling to make ends meet, including in regional Australia.
|Photo: Cassandra Goldie, ACOSS CEO|
During the Federal Election, ACOSS urged that the major parties give better attention to key concerns of constituents. These include affordable housing; homelessness; rising costs of living; long-term unemployment; adequate financial support for people not able to be in paid work, including parents and young people; timely access to dental care and other health services.
Dr Goldie says the make up of the new Australian Parliament provides real hope of a better focus on genuine debate, and responsible policy which delivers fairness and greater equality for all.
Dr. Goldie says the core mission of the Australian Council of Social Service is to be a clear and considered voice for the needs of people who are missing out on fairness and equality. To fulfil that, she says the organisation also needs the country to recognise ACOSS as the voice which speaks for these people.
Beyond that she says ACOSS also has a role to be a respected and reliable resource for community services around the country.
Dr. Goldie says there are a wide range of priorities for ACOSS in the next twelve months but three which immediately come to mind are jobs, fair pay and pension levels.
In relation to jobs, ACOSS wants to see a strengthening of the Job Service Network and, in particular, greater flexibility.
Dr.Goldie says the Coalition had some good policy in relation to older workers such as a six month subsidy to employers who employed people aged 50 and over. But she sees no reason why this same policy approach should not be extended to all people who are vulnerable in relation to work.
Similarly, she says there should be greater flexibility with relocation policies.
The Fair Pay test case has been a very important and long standing issue for ACOSS having been involved in the equal remuneration case for social service workers and the campaign for funding of any pay rises that follow.
Dr. Goldie says once the Fair Pay Commission has made a determination, it will be vital that governments respond with funding that enables organisations to meet that determination.
She says pension levels, especially for single parents and young people, are simply woefully inadequate with a level of support that condemns recipients to living in poverty.
She says while successive Governments have been building an array of interventions to move people off benefits and into paid employment, the fact remains that the basic levels are unjustifiably and unsustainably low.
Dr Goldie has an extensive career in the community sector in Australia and internationally working in human rights and law and justice. She joined ACOSS in July 2010 from the Australian Human Rights Commission where, as Director of the Sex and Age Discrimination Unit, she played a pivotal role in the inquiry into pay equity and paid parental leave.
She has previously been the Director of the Homelessness Legal Rights Project at UNSW, a consultant to UN Habitat, Solicitor in Charge of Client Services with Legal Aid in Western Australia and Executive Officer of the Darwin Community Legal Service.
Dr Goldie has also been President of NTCOSS and Board Member of ACOSS (2001-2002) and was an ACOSS Law and Justice Policy Advisor (2000-2006).