Harnessing community for effective action
10 September 2019 at 7:45 am
The upcoming ACOSS Conference will act as a key platform for the sector to hear directly from relevant political leaders and to pose pressing questions, writes Jacqueline Phillips, director of policy at the Australian Council of Social Service.
How can we talk about poverty to win hearts and minds to solve it?
How do we harness the power of local community action to influence national policy debates?
How do we bridge the divide between urban and rural communities to deliver better policy outcomes for all?
These are some of the topical, cross-cutting questions facing the community sector that the Australian Council of Social Service conference will delve into this November.
The annual conference is the meeting place for leaders and decision makers of community sector organisations from around the country.
It brings together the community sector, people with lived expertise, academics, thought leaders from the public and private sectors, young and emerging thinkers and individuals with a commitment to social justice.
This year’s theme – harnessing community for effective action – is about exploring the ways in which communities can drive real change.
It will be interwoven through the conference keynotes, master classes, policy forums and workshops, allowing attendees to explore: how to communicate more effectively about poverty and inequality; the power of local community action in shaping national policy debates; the good, the bad and the ugly uses of data in our sector; alternative funding streams, including philanthropy and partnerships; and the fundamentals of successful strategic campaigning.
As always, the ACOSS Conference will act as a key platform for the sector to hear directly from relevant political leaders and to pose pressing questions.
The minister for families and social services, Senator Anne Ruston, and the Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese will address the conference, along with the Leader of the Australian Greens Richard Di Natale and the ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
As the conference is on in Canberra during the final federal Parliamentary sitting week of the year, it provides a key opportunity for the sector and people with lived experience of poverty to be at the geographical centre of federal decision making and to build advocacy plans around the event.
While the political backdrop will be highlighted, with a high-profile line up of political leaders, there will also be a focus on the economic and international contexts.
The deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Guy Debelle, will address the conference, following the governor’s acknowledgement that increasing Newstart would be helpful economic stimulus, as well as calls from the sector for investment in social housing to boost the economy.
The conference will also hear from the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, who this year has spoken out against the punitive cashless debit card imposed on some people receiving income support in Australia and stood alongside the Australian National Council of Single Mothers and their Children at a UN event in criticizing the Australian government’s treatment of single mothers.
The other international speaker appearing at the conference is Abigail Scott Paul from the UK’s Joseph Rowntree Foundation, where she leads the award-winning Talking about Poverty program. She is designing and leading JRF’s strategy to build public will to solve poverty in the UK and is working alongside mainstream storytellers such as filmmakers, writers, the media, cultural institutions, social influencers and activists, to commission and produce authentic and diverse stories with the purpose of reaching new audiences, opening up minds and shifting attitudes.
As well as providing high-level communications, international, economic and political insights, the conference program will also feature experts in philanthropy, community mobilisation, digital campaigning and even creative writing, with a focus on the theme of harnessing community for effective action.
The wide-ranging program reflects the growing professional diversity of our sector and will be of value to leaders and practitioners working in policy, advocacy, service delivery, management and communications.
By coming together, we aim to strengthen our collective ability to work towards key achievements, including a voice for First Peoples enshrined in the Constitution; a real increase to Newstart and other payments; boosted investment in social housing; meaningful action on climate change; and fair tax reform to improve funding for essential services, including community services.
To register for tickets, go to acossevents.org.au.