Better Infrastructure Connections for Armstrong Creek and the Bellarine

Families in Armstrong Creek, Barwon Heads and all across the Bellarine will have quicker and safer commutes to work, school and weekend sport under an Albanese Labor Government, thanks to a $125 million commitment to help build stage 2 of the Barwon Heads Road duplication.

By 2031, Barwon Heads Road is projected to carry up to 44,000 cars and trucks every day and Armstrong Creek is one of Victoria’s fastest growing suburbs. It consists of 2,500 hectares of developable land, which makes it one of the largest growth fronts in the country.

This growth area will provide for 22,000 lots and a population of around 60,000 people.

If we don’t build for that growth now, locals will be trapped in ever-growing gridlock.

That’s why an Albanese Labor Government will partner with the Victorian Government to duplicate Barwon Heads Road from Reserve Road, past Armstrong Creek, to Lower Duneed Road.

This project will link up with stage 1 of the duplication, between Belmont and Reserve Road, which the Victorian Government is already busy constructing.

This project will future-proof infrastructure across this growing region, creating local jobs in the construction phase and ensuring that working families can spend less time in the car and more time at home.

And, unlike so many of the Morrison-Joyce Government’s commitments, an Albanese Labor Government will actually deliver it.

Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act

The Morrison Government welcomes the release of the Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act (1997) – a vital overview of Australia’s age care system.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, and the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said the report offered important insight into the sector’s operations during the 2020-21 financial year.

Importantly, it details the challenges faced by senior Australians and the aged care sector in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the critical interventions made by Government as it responded to those challenges.

It includes an overview of systems and resources, service provision from community care through to permanent residential care, services delivered to people with diverse needs, and the provision of regulatory and prudential frameworks to ensure consumers receive high quality services.

“The past year has been extraordinarily difficult for all Australians as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to consume our day to day lives,” Minister Hunt said.

“The impact of the virus has been especially felt by people separated from loved ones living in residential aged care facilities because of visitor restrictions necessary to save lives and protect lives.

“The Morrison Government has worked to support the sector through the pandemic to protect the most vulnerable.”

Minister Hunt said more than $2.1 billion in aged care specific measures had been provided to support residential aged care providers and staff and ensure quality of care.

“This support was wide-ranging and included improved infection-control management and training, workforce support and extra funding to cover the increased costs of caring for older Australians during the pandemic.

“We invested additional funding for better communication with older Australians and their families, as well as improved support for their mental health and wellbeing,” Minister Hunt said.

Minister Colbeck said while managing the immediate threat from COVID-19, the Government has also responded swiftly and decisively to the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, with a comprehensive $17.7 billion package.

“Underpinning this reform are the principles of genuine two-way engagement with all involved parties, combined with a commitment to absolute transparency in reporting from providers, in order to strengthen the financial oversight of the aged care sector,” Minister Colbeck said.

“Strong, independent oversight of the system is essential for good governance and transparency.

“Progress has already been made across the five pillars of reform, including the release of an average of 3000 home care packages each week, resulting in a significant reduction in waiting times for high care packages.

“New legislation, which will deliver risk-based assurance reviews of 500 home care providers every 12 months, will also improve the safety and quality of services provided to older Australians.”

Minister Colbeck said an Engagement Hub has been established to make it easier for consumers, their families and carers, the workforce, and the sector more broadly, can more easily access information on progress.

The Government has also committed $262.5 million to ensure the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is well equipped to safeguard the quality, safety and integrity of aged care services, and can effectively address any failures in care.

“Our commitment to the wellbeing of senior Australians and the integrity of the aged care system is absolute,” Minister Colbeck said.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the sector to implement reforms that will ensure Australia’s aged care system leads the world now and in the future.”

The full report can be found on the GEN Aged Care Data website, here.

GEN is Australia’s only central, independent repository of national aged care data and is managed and regularly updated by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

 

More action needed to eliminate violence against women

On International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women the Greens have called for the Morrison Government to commit serious funding to frontline services, prevention programs, and short and long term housing so that women are not forced to choose between violence and homelessness.

The Greens have also endorsed the recommendations of today’s Pathways to Safety report from Aboriginal-led justice coalition Change the Record, which calls for governments to prioritise the leadership of Indigenous women and increase investment in violence prevention, support services and housing.

Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on women Senator Larissa Waters said:

“Every year on this day we recommit to ending sexual and physical violence against women around the world.

“If the Morrison Government was serious about ending this epidemic of violence they would have listened to the sector’s calls for $12 billion over the 12 year life of the National Plan, rather than the inadequate amounts they have pledged to date.

“We need expert-led prevention programs, not milkshake videos, and real work to end the gender inequality that drives violence against women.

“To eliminate violence against women the government must deliver what women’s groups have been demanding for years: proper sexual consent education in schools; addressing the causes of the gender inequality that drives violence; a massive investment in crisis, transition and long-term housing so women are not forced to choose between homelessness and violence; and a commitment of $12 billion over the 12-year life of the next national plan to ensure frontline services are fully funded and no-one seeking help is turned away.

“And we need a stand alone, self-determined First Nations National Women’s Safety Plan – as called for by today’s Pathways to Safety report from Change the Record. First Nations women know how to keep their children and communities safe, and we need a National Plan than listens to them and provides the tools they need to end violence against First Nations women and children.”

Huge RMIT wage theft bill vindicates casual staff

Australian Greens Education spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi has responded to reports that RMIT will pay back up to $10 million to casual staff for work dating back to 2014.

Senator Faruqi said:

“Casual university staff are absolutely sick and tired of being underpaid, undervalued and taken for granted.

“Wage theft at our campuses is systemic and universities are finally realising they can no longer run away from this. This wage theft disproportionately affects casual staff and women.

“As universities have casualised their workforces, wage theft has been allowed to fester, and it’s now been revealed that staff at campuses in all parts of the country are affected.

“My congratulations must go to the staff and unions who continue to fight hard for the rights of university workers.

“The Senate Inquiry into Job Security, which I sit on, has made numerous excellent recommendations with respect to wage theft which should be implemented as a matter of urgency.”

Greens reject Morrison discrimination bill

The Greens have vowed to block Scott Morrison’s religious discrimination bill, saying it was a Trojan horse for hate that went well beyond a shield to protect people with religious beliefs, calling on Labor and Senators to join them in blocking it.

Leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt MP said:

“Scott Morrison’s bill means more discrimination, not less.

“Scott Morrison has a bill for more discrimination but no bill to stop corruption.

“The bill overrides State and Territory protections and makes bigoted hate speech legal.

“The bill goes beyond being a shield. It has many swords and they will do harm.

“The Greens call on Labor to block this harmful bill.

“The Greens support protections against religious discrimination, which is why Australia needs a charter of rights, but this bill isn’t that.”

Australian Greens LGBTIQA+ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice said:

“Scott Morrison’s discrimination bill is a Trojan horse for hate.

“Any bill that enables discrimination against LGBTIQA+ people, women, people with disabilities, minority faiths, or First Nations people is unacceptable and must be voted down.

“Under the guise of faith, bigots would be free to discriminate against people at school and universities, in the workplace, hospitals, restaurants – anywhere in public life.

“Morrison’s whole schtick is to divide Australians and create problems where none existed.

“Morrison and the Liberals are using culture wars as a distraction so people won’t notice this government has done absolutely nothing to help struggling Australians.

“While the Liberals are fighting fake cancel culture, the Greens are fighting for what Australians want – action on climate change, taxing the billionaires, raising income support, getting dental into medicare and laws that protect all of us equally.”

Shameful and traumatic family law inquiry comes to a welcome end

The Greens say today’s tabling of the Final Report of Pauline Hanson’s toxic family law inquiry marks the welcome end of more than two years of political grandstanding that has traumatised survivors of family and domestic violence and provided a platform for hate and misinformation.

Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on democracy Senator Larissa Waters said:

“What a colossal waste of time and energy.

“This inquiry was a cynical and politically motivated stunt that emboldened domestic violence offenders and re-traumatised victim-survivors and their children.

“The Greens opposed this inquiry from the outset, not because there are no problems within the family law system, but because those problems have been the subject of many previous inquiries. We needed action on recommendations but, true to form, the government gave us another inquiry.

“This inquiry told us what we already know: that gendered violence is a core problem at the heart of the family law system; that more money is needed to fix delays and gaps in the system that continue to put women and children at risk; and that funding, specialisation, and wrap-around service models are the solution.

“We have now spent more than two years re-litigating those issues and delaying implementation of previous recommendations, while giving oxygen to some of the most extreme and toxic views of the men’s rights movement.

“Thankfully, having heard all the evidence, the committee’s primary recommendations are not those championed by extremists. Because of the weight of evidence presented by survivors, experts, practitioners and frontline workers, the report instead acknowledges the need for a better understanding of gendered violence to be embedded throughout the family law system.

“The Greens opposed the merger of the Family and Federal Circuit Courts and will continue to fight for:

  • Maintaining specialist family law expertise by increasing funding and training for experienced family court judges, registrars, report writers and liaison officers
  • Adequate and secure funding for Legal Aid, community legal centres, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Family Violence Prevention Legal Services, and their peak bodies
  • $12 billion to properly fund the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women, and the development of a standalone, National Plan for First Nations Women and Children.”

Greens launch plan to strengthen renters’ rights

The Greens have today launched a plan to strengthen renters’ rights and fund tenancy advocacy services. Nearly a third of all Australian households rent their home. Yet government after government has ignored renters’ rights in favour of landlord profits.

Renting is becoming more unaffordable and inaccessible by the minute. The latest Rental Affordability Index, released today, has shown that low and moderate-income households are currently under extreme rental stress in cities and regions across the country.

The Greens will protect renters’ rights by boosting and guaranteeing funding for tenants’ advocacy services by $30 million per year to improve access to independent information, advice and advocacy. This has been fully costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office.

We will also establish a National Standard of Renters’ Rights to:

  • Limit the amount and frequency of rent rises in private rental
  • Prohibit ‘no grounds’ evictions and give tenants the option of European Style long-term leases
  • Allow tenants to make minor changes without permission from their landlord
  • Prohibit blanket ‘no pets’ clauses in leases
  • Ensure appropriate tenancy protections for victims of domestic violence in all states and territories
  • Enforce disability access, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability standards for rental homes.

These measures will support renters alongside Greens commitments to build one million affordable homes, increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance and wind back negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount.

Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Greens spokesperson for Housing said:

“Renters in this country are doing it incredibly tough. More and more people are renting but with limited rights, they can’t turn their house into a home.

“We’ve all heard rental horror stories of people being evicted, huge rental rises, broken floorboards and leaky roofs. It’s beyond time to fix this.

“Not only do we see rental affordability worsen year in, year out, but people also have to contend with poor-quality rentals.

“Renters’ rights are a national issue. Landlords across the country have too much power. No-grounds evictions should be made a thing of the past, and we have to get rent rises under control.

“I rented for many years with my family in Sydney and I know all too well of the difficulties, uncertainties, insecurity and restrictions that make renting hard.

“What’s worse, there are different rules and standards across the various states and territories which makes it confusing and unclear for renters exactly what their rights are.

“Critical tenancy advocacy services should be well-funded to ensure renters have access to the legal and advisory support they need while navigating what is often a confusing and inflexible system.

“As property prices skyrocket and home ownership slips out of reach for more and more people, it’s never been more critical to protect renters’ rights.

“Whether you own a house or rent one, everyone deserves the security and stability of a place to call home.”

Government’s DV Commission is more about optics than women’s safety

The Greens say the government’s Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commission is an inadequate response to the women’s safety crisis that is more about politics than it is about serious action to protect women.

Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on democracy Senator Larissa Waters said:

“The fact that this announcement was rushed out late last night just ahead of Labor’s own almost identical plan shows that this is more about optics and politics than it is about making a meaningful effort to protect women.

“Delegates at the Women’s Safety Summit could not have been clearer – affordable, accessible crisis, transitional and long-term housing is fundamental to the safety of women and children. There is a massive shortfall in housing that is preventing women escaping abuse.

“Women are being forced to choose between violence or homelessness. A new commission might win the government a couple of headlines, but it won’t put roofs over women’s heads.

“Additional funding to frontline workers and support services is always welcome, but if we are serious about ending violence against women and their children, a much bigger investment is needed. The government needs to listen to the sector and commit $12 billion to the next 12-year National Plan.”

Greens call for increase in WGEA’s powers

The Greens say the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) must be given more powers to tackle gender inequality in the workplace, including the ability to require organisations to report on the number of sexual harassment incidents reported by employees and how they were handled.

In her submission to the review of the Workplace Gender Equality Act Senator Larissa Waters called for all public and private sector organisations with more than 50 workers to:
* provide details on the number of sexual harassment complaints made, the number of complaints resolved, disciplinary actions taken, and whether the employer uses non-disclosure agreements
* publish workplace pay data and remove employee pay gag clauses
* take meaningful action to reduce their gender pay gap or lose eligibility for government grants and contracts
* identify and address intersectional pay inequity experienced by First Nations women, culturally diverse women, LGBTIQ women, and women with disability

Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on women Senator Larissa Waters said:

“Over the past decade WGEA has done important work to increase awareness, provide rigorous analysis of gender pay disparity in Australian workplaces, and to identify ways to close the gap.

“But the needle hasn’t moved very much. In fact, during the pandemic the gender pay gap has actually grown and Australia has crashed to 50th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report rankings.

“WGEA needs more power to hold employers to account and ensure that there are real consequences for non-compliance.

“It’s not enough to simply have sexual harassment policies – employers should be able to show that those policies are actually working, which is why we’ve called for employers to be required to report on the number of complaints and the actions taken.

“The lack of transparency around the gender pay gap and secrecy about salaries, bonuses and promotions disadvantage women in the workforce. Employer-level data must be made publicly available to shame poor performing employers, and there must be greater pay transparency so women can tell when they’re being short-changed compared to their male colleagues.”

New National Aged Care Advisory Council established

Seventeen prominent Australians will provide expert advice on aged care issues and the implementation of the Morrison Government’s $17.7 billion reform agenda in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Led by inaugural chair Andrea Coote, the National Aged Care Advisory Council will ensure aged care reforms meet the needs and expectations of senior Australians, their families and carers and the Australian community.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the Advisory Council formed part of the Australian Government’s comprehensive response to the Royal Commission.

“This is the most significant reform ever undertaken by an Australian Government to improve the care of senior Australians both in residential care and care at home,” Minister Hunt said.

“This Advisory Council will play a key role in guiding that implementation, alongside a new Council of Elders and an Inspector-General of Aged Care.

“I welcome the appointment of all 17 members to the Advisory Council and I look forward to working alongside them as we ensure our aged care system delivers respect, care and dignity for our senior Australians.”

Council of Elders nominations have been received and the membership of this representative body will be announced later this year.

The Council of Elders will be led by inaugural Chair Ian Yates, AM, who will also sit on the Advisory Council.

Three working groups will be established to support the Advisory Council – the Workforce Advisory Working Group, the Quality Advisory Working Group and the Financing and Markets Advisory Working Group.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Richard Colbeck said establishing the Advisory Council marked an important step forward.

“We know if you want things to change in the sector then the structure which supports it must also change,” Minister Colbeck said.

“Aged care in Australia is undergoing its most significant reform in a generation.

“Strength through representation is key to ensuring these changes are made in the best interests of senior Australians and those who care for them.”

The Advisory Council members will advise on issues from navigating aged care services to building the capability of providers and the workforce to deliver the Government’s reforms.

“Our intention is to ensure we have strong representation across five consumer groups including Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse, carers and advocacy groups,” Minister Colbeck said.

It will also provide a voice for home care, community and private providers along with a representative of the peak group Australian Aged Care Collaboration.

Minister Colbeck thanked chair David Tune PSM and members of the previous principal aged care advisory group, the Aged Care Sector Committee which ceased in June.

He said the new Advisory Council is a departure from the previous representative model as it included practitioners with direct experience and activity within the sector, which will provide important insight during the implementation of the reforms.

It includes health and allied health experts across several fields as well as IT systems, finance and workforce professionals.

National Aged Care Advisory Council Members

  • Andrea Coote (National Advisory Council Chair)
  • Ian Yates AM (Council of Elders Chair)
  • Rachel Argaman
  • Michael Baird AO
  • Jennene Buckley
  • Elizabeth Callaghan
  • Andrew Condon
  • Jill Gallagher AO
  • Emma Hossack
  • Dr Sandra Iuliano
  • Claerwen Little
  • Libby Lyons
  • Maree Mccabe AM
  • Gail Mulcair
  • Assoc. Prof. Michael Murray
  • Mary Patetsos
  • Graeme Prior