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VCOSS Congress Examines the ‘State of the State’


3 August 2011 at 3:48 pm
Staff Reporter
The 2011 VCOSS Congress - to be held in Melbourne on Friday, August 5th - aims to explore what a changing social and political landscape means for disadvantaged people and communities, and the Not for Profit sector itself.

Staff Reporter | 3 August 2011 at 3:48 pm


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VCOSS Congress Examines the ‘State of the State’
3 August 2011 at 3:48 pm

It’s two years since the last VCOSS Congress was held, and VCOSS CEO Cath Smith says in that time some big changes have been seen in Victoria, and more widely, Australia – not least the election of the Coalition Government in Victoria, and of a minority government in Canberra.

The 2011 VCOSS Congress – to be held in Melbourne on Friday, August 5th – aims to explore what a changing social and political landscape means for disadvantaged people and communities, and the Not for Profit sector itself.

Smith says community organisations want to know what these changes mean to the sector and to the communities they represent – what are the new opportunities that come from a new government with a different philosophy, how do they make sure they protect the gains they’ve already made, and how do they best communicate the evidence of what they know works?

Smith says the real highlights for this year’s event will be hearing from two leading international speakers and thinkers – Naomi Eisenstadt, who headed the United Kingdom’s Social Exclusion Task Force under the Labour Government and Dr Cindy Blackstock, one of the world’s leading Indigenous issues experts.

As a Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University, Eisenstadt’s key interests are in children’s services, poverty and its impact on children and family policy. Her address will focus on how to generate and maintain the momentum for reform in a changing political landscape.

Blackstock will be addressing the Community Sector Leaders Dinner, on the eve of Congress, on equitable and culturally based interventions to address the causes of disadvantage for Aboriginal children and families. Dr Helen Szoke, Victoria’s Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner will MC the event.

Cath Smith says other highlights during the Congress will be the session on ‘cause not consequence’ – looking at the latest insights, approaches and challenges to addressing major causes of disadvantage, particularly around the urban fringes of cities, emergency management and rural and regional communities, and justice. The day will also look at the way the sector itself best works to deliver the best outcomes for the people who use community services – not least in the way we invite their input in our decision making and policy directions.

Smith says the VCOSS Congress is always a great opportunity to explore the big social policy questions being faced – it’s also an important chance for people from the sector and government to catch up and explore new and different ways to work together.

Other speakers include:

  • Jane-Frances Kelly, Program Director, Grattan Institute
  • Stella Avramopoulos, CEO, Kildonan Uniting Care
  • Fiona Smith, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
  • Simon Peavey, Graduate, Peer Education Support Program, Council to Homeless Persons
  • Tony Pitman, Chief Executive Officer, Ozchild
  • Hugh de Kretser, Executive Officer, Federation of Community Legal Centres

Registrations have closed, however Pro Bono Australia News will be attending and reporting live from the 2011 VCOSS Congress.  



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