Thursday, January 30, 2003

Social services groups swamped

A new report has revealed higher costs and increasing demands are forcing [social services] groups to turn more people away.

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) report is being released in Melbourne today.

It shows many services are struggling to meet higher insurance, train their staff and volunteers and meet accountability requirements.

ACOSS president Andrew McCallum says there has been a 12 per cent increase in demand for [social services] over the past year.

In addition, he says there has been a 19 per cent jump in the number of people who agencies cannot help.

"The Government has got to take the problem seriously," Mr McCallum said. "They can't just pretend the problem doesn't exist.

"We do have a higher rate of people needing assistance through community service organisations.

"They have to acknowledge that we have a problem, that we are getting a polarised society and the joys of economic growth are not flowing through to everyone.

"Until both parties take it seriously, we will not address the issue. We keep putting band-aids on what is a very serious problem."

Mr McCallum says spiralling costs and pressures have caused the jump in the number of people [social services] agencies are having to turn away.

"We're being told that the economy's never been better and unemployment has never been lower but that's not translating at the bottom end," he said.

"We still know that a lot of people, be it through housing, unemployment, are finding themselves in need at some time over the year.

"That's putting increasing strain on [social services] agencies and also it diverts their resources away from some of the more preventative and more structural change programs that they'd like to run."

By Third World Country 30 Jan 2003

THE RUBBISH: In the bin like a disposable razor? Poor example? This is a country where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.


Fiona Stanley, the children's crusader
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