Early NFP Support for Labor Agenda on Inequality
17 March 2016 at 1:55 pm
The Federal Labor party has released an agenda for tackling inequality in Australia including a push for full employment and the policy has already garnered some Not for Profit support.
Labor says the agenda, called Growing Together, examines some of the key economic and social challenges facing Australia and outlines a policy to tackle inequality by delivering full employment and investing in the capabilities of Australians.
“Australia is experiencing rapid and far-reaching social and economic changes which bring new opportunities as well as risks,” Labor’s Shadow Minister for Communities, Jenny Macklin, said when releasing the policy.
“Perhaps for the first time in our history, we cannot be confident that the next generation of Australians will be better off than we are.
“In these uncertain times, Australians rightly expect a plan from their government to help manage the risks and grasp the opportunities of change.”
Macklin said Australia needed big ideas, and the Turnbull Government did not have a plan to help Australians prepare for the future with confidence.
She said Growing Together puts tackling inequality, inclusive growth and social investment at the “heart” of the agenda for government.
The Labor policy identified seven areas for creating a stronger and fairer Australia:
- putting jobs first
- investing in the early years
- quality education across life
- balancing work, care and family
- supporting longevity
- building stronger communities
- modernising policy development and governance.
“Growing Together is the result of extensive consultation with more than 100 of Australia’s leading thinkers. Labor has worked with academics, economists, community sector leaders, business and union representatives to tackle the big issues facing Australian society today,” Macklin said.
“This report is not election manifesto. Its vision stretches beyond election cycles and across governments. Nor does Growing Together cover every policy priority, or provide all of the answers.”
Welfare peak body,the Australian Council of Social Service, (ACOSS) has welcomed Labor’s social policy agenda.
“In a political system that’s adrift in the daily media cycle, Labor’s social policy agenda brings long overdue attention, focus and rigour to efforts to reduce inequality and poverty, placing good social policy at the centre of good economic policy,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
“The platform builds strong foundations for policies to reduce inequality and poverty, including full employment, decent incomes, universal services, and shifting power to communities.
“We need more of this kind of serious, long-term policy thinking from all sides of politics. Affordable housing and a fair and efficient tax system should also be added to the mix.
“The statement signals the need for well targeted public investment in benefits, services and community infrastructure from a future government. This is an investment, not a cost. In our view there’s no conflict between investing in people and growing the economy: they are one and the same thing. It’s vital that governments make room for these investments rather than imposing arbitrary caps on public spending.”
Early Childhood Australia (ECA) said Labor’s new commitment to invest in the early years as part of its agenda for tackling inequality was heartening.
“If we want to tackle disadvantage in Australia and close the gap, we need to strengthen the connection between economic and social policy and work across the portfolio areas with a long term view—this means better support for families, strengthening workforce participation and investing in the early years for future prosperity,” ECA CEO Samantha Page said.
“It is very heartening to see such a comprehensive policy document acknowledge the key role of early childhood development in determining child well being, and going through the range of policy levels that can support parents to raise their children well.”
Church-based welfare Not for Profit Anglicare described Labor’s social policy agenda as encouraging.
“In our Budget submission this year we indicated a key role of government is to develop a society that is equitable,” Anglicare Executive Director Kasy Chambers said.
“The impact of growing inequity in the paid workforce – and the insecurity and poverty that comes with many short term jobs – is now showing up at the Anglicare services that deliver financial counselling, emergency relief and family support.
“So it is encouraging to see a dialogue around the importance of secure and meaningful jobs for people, and that greater equality is a pre-condition of growth rather than a hoped for by-product.
“Given the expenditure on social welfare and associated services, we need governments to think about social policy in a deep and thorough way, and so avoid knee-jerk reactions to a particular event or situation.
“This document makes a great start, but whether we get that sound public policy debate is in the hands of politicians, the media and interest groups.”
Casey said Anglicare Australia looked forward to making a positive contribution to the debate.