Thursday, 29 August 2013

Rode Rage fundraising for Kids in Cambodia and Wildlife in Thailand

Dear Campaigners,

Please find above details of our upcoming Trivia Night on Friday October 4th to raise funds for our Khmer Rode RAGE project ( ) to bring a team from the Cambodian Children's Trust to the RACV Energy Breakthrough in November this year and to raise funds for the ongoing work of CCT ( )and the Wilderness Friends Foundation Thailand ( ).

Last year's event was a great success and we again anticipate a night of great fun and entertainment which would make an excellent end of week staff function or as a lead in to a bigger night out for the more adventurous :)   .... you have fun, a local kids program is supported and Cambodian kids and Thai elephants and tigers get fed and cared for.... win-win-win.

We would be extremely grateful if you were able to organise a table (or 2 or 3) for this event and if you could distribute/display this poster as widely as possible.  Bookings can be made by return e mail or phone.  Tables of 10 or smaller groups /individuals happily accommodated.  Perhaps we could use this as an opportunity for a post election BCN meeting and form up a table between us and partners??

Thanks and best wishes,

Tony Davidson 
Rode RAGE 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Green Left Weekly Activist Calendar - 2013-08-28 : Women, Feminism, East-West Tunnel, Refugees, Debt & Environmental Damage

Green Left Weekly Activist CalendarAugust 28, 2013

Slutwalk Melbourne 2013
Saturday, August 31, 12 noon. State Library, cnr Swanston & La Trobe Sts, City. Because it's never okay to blame the victim. In solidarity with international cities, SlutWalk Melbourne stands against victim-blaming and slut-shaming.

Say no to the East-West Tunnel
Saturday, August 31, 1pm. Smith Reserve, cnr Alexandra Pde & George St, Fitzroy.

Election night parties
Celebrate with Socialist Alliance
Saturday, September 7. After the close of polls, join with Socialist Alliance in Melbourne or Geelong, cheer and groan, and celebrate the socialist campaigns!
  • Wills: From 6pm. Join us at Tony & Helen's place in Coburg for food, drinks and merriment, as we thank our candidate, Margarita Windisch, our election volunteers and supporters. RSVP toSocialist Alliance or call 9639 8622 to receive the address and directions for how to get to the party!
  • Corio: From 6:30pm. Join with socialist candidate Sue Bull. Food & drink available. Downstairs, Trades Hall, 127 Myers St, Geelong.

glw logo
This is the regular Melbourne activist calendar compiled by Green Left Weekly. Emailed to subscribers each Wednesday fortnight, it is a one-stop listing of the main left and progressive events in Melbourne and Geelong.
Since it began in early 1991, Green Left Weekly has offered an indispensable alternative to the lies of the big-business media and has helped build the various movements for social change. To subscribe toGreen Left Weekly, visit our secure online website for rates and payment at Green Left Weekly or call our national hotline on 1800 634 206.
You can also contact us at the Resistance Centre, 5th floor, 407 Swanston St, City; ph 9639 8622. In Geelong we are at the Activist Centre, Trades Hall, 127 Myers St (opening hours: Mon 2-4:30pm, Fri 10am-4:30pm); ph 5222 6900.
New email address? Not already receiving this calendar regularly? Want to subscribe someone else? Let us know at Greenleft Melbourne.

Other coming events

Friday, August 30
Candidates meeting: Hear Wills candidates. Uniting Church, 212 Sydney Road (cnr Merri St), Brunswick. Presented by Brunswick Uniting Church. 7pm. For more info ph 0409 285 182.
Saturday, August 31
Rally: Livewire for Refugees: 24-hour non-stop community speakout for refugee rights. On the speakers list so far: Jeannie Rea (NTEU); Wendy Bacon (academic); Doctors for Refugees; Rebecca Eckard (Refugee Council of Australia); Misha Coleman (Australian Churches Refugees Taskforce); Pamela Curr (Asylum Seeker Resource Centre); Rural Australians for Refugees (Phillip Island); Jews for Refugees; Aran (Tamil Refugee Council); Friends of the Earth; Anna Funder (award-winning writer); Denis Altman (academic). 12 noon. City Square, cnr Collins & Swanston Sts, City. Hosted by Refugee Action Collective.
Rally: Slutwalk Melbourne 2013. Because it's never okay to blame the victim. In solidarity with international cities, SlutWalk Melbourne stands against victim-blaming and slut-shaming. 12 noon. State Library.
Rally: Say no to the East-West Tunnel. 1pm. Smith Reserve, cnr Alexandra Pde & George St, Fitzroy.
Public meeting: The forgotten war. On Anzac Day we remember Australian soldiers who served in wars overseas. Yet the 'frontier wars' fought between indigenous Australians and European settlers barely register on our historic radar. Eminent historian Henry Reynolds asks whether we can achieve genuine reconciliation without acknowledging almost 150 years of conflict on Australian soil. 1pm. Deakin Edge, Federation Square. To book visit Melb Writers' Festival.
Public meeting: Feminism now. Contemporary cultural messages about work, sex and the female body defy notions of equal opportunity for modern women. Writers Anna Goldsworthy and Monica Dux join women's rights campaigner Samah Hadid to discuss the trajectory of feminism and its status in the 21st century with media expert Lynne Haultain. Proudly supported by the Queen Victoria Women's Centre. 2:30pm. Deakin Edge, Federation Square. To book visit Melb Writers' Festival.
Public meeting: Intergenerational war. Satyajit Das argues that our economic growth and prosperity is based on excessive debt, irreversible environmental damage and overuse of non-renewable resources, including oil and water. It is an official policy of 'extend and pretend' where problems and costs are pushed into the future to feed current consumption and lifestyles. But the transfer of wealth from the future cannot go on forever and robs the generations to come. Can we adjust our behaviours? Will we stop eating our own children? Introduced by Michael Webster. 7pm. Deakin Edge, Federation Square. To book visit Melb Writers' Festival.
Fundraiser: Latin fiesta. With two amazing bands, The Conch & Son3. 7:30pm. MUA Hall, 54 Ireland St, West Melbourne. $15/$10. Organised by LASNET. Bookings essential, ph 0414 970 418 or 0425 539 149.
Monday, September 2
Public meeting: Beyond Zero Emissions Discussion Group. Speaker: Dr Scott Watkins (Stream Leader, Organic Photovoltaics, Materials Science and Engineering at CSIRO) is developing next generation organic solar cells. He will talk about the new manufacturing facility in Melbourne printing solar cells at the size of an A3 sheet of paper, which are one of the largest in the world. 6:30pm. Fritz Loewe Theatre (entry via Level 2), McCoy Building, Melbourne University, cnr Elgin & Swanston Sts, Carlton.
Tuesday, September 3- Friday, September 6
Comedy: Political Asylum decides: Election 2013. A hilarious final-week analysis of the election campaign in all it's absurdity, delivered by the masters of political mirth, Mathew Kenneally & Toby Halligan. Featuring nightly appearances by special correspondents: Tues, Sep 3: Rod Quantock, Aamer Rahman, Mick Neven; Wed, Sep 4: Aamer Rahman, Nicholas J Johnson; Thu, Sep 5: Stella Young, Ben Pobjie; Fri, Sep 6: Nelly Thomas, Stella Young. 6:30pm (1 hour show). The Brunswick Green, 313 Sydney Rd, Brunswick. $15/$12. To book visit Political Asylum.
Wednesday, September 4
Public meeting: How the workers are organising: Iran, Turkey & Egypt. Examining the role of the labour movement in the Middle East and North Africa's significant uprisings. 6pm. Evatt Room, Trades Hall, Cnr Lygon & Victoria Sts, Carlton South. Organised by Australia Asia Worker Links.
Concert: David Rovics 'into a prism' world tour 2013. These days David lives in Portland, Oregon and tours regularly on four continents, playing for audiences large and small at cafes, pubs, universities, churches, union halls and protest rallies. He has shared the stage with a veritable who's who of the left in two dozen countries, and has had his music featured on Democracy Now!, BBC, Al-Jazeera and other networks. His essays are published regularly on CounterPunch and elsewhere, and the 200+ songs he makes available for free on the web have been downloaded more than a million times. Most importantly, he's really good. Support act Les Thomas has played at many protests and venues across Melbourne and has been recording his debut album with the likes of Jeff Lang and The Stillsons. 7pm. $15 at the door. Trades Hall, 54 Victoria St, Carlton South. Presented by Renegade Activists. Any profits donated to refugee campaign.
Thursday, September 5
Exhibition: Unseen Habitation. A site-specific exhibition, a walk through maze of installations created by 5 Australian artists of colour from diverse migration experiences: Somalia, Eritrea, Egypt, Vietnam and Bosnia. Each artist will explore how communities reconstruct place and home post-migration making use of various art forms, including; sculpture, installation, mixed media, and photography. Goodtime Studio, 746 Swanston St, Carlton (directly opposite Melbourne University). For more info ph Dominic Golding 0403 851 240.
Thursday, September 5-Friday, September 13
Film screening: Environmental film festival. Groundbreaking films, traversing the relationship between humans and their environments, challenging the way people think about the natural world and inspiring them to discuss, explore and act on important environmental issues. For bookings or info visit EFFM.
Friday, September 6
Public lecture: The politics of ungrievable lives. An analysis of the massacre of 1988 in the global context, a public lecture by Shahla Talebi of Arizona State University, herself a political prisoner under both the Pahlavi regime and the Islamic Republic. 7pm. Kaleide Theatre RMIT, 360 Swanston St, City. Presented by Iran Solidarity Melbourne & the Coalition of Iranian Activists of Sydney. For more info ph Shannon Woodcock on 0416 801 653 or Afshin Nikouseresht on 0402 360 442.
Saturday, September 7
Election night party: Socialist Alliance Wills campaign. 6pm. After the close of polls, join us at Tony & Helen's place in Coburg for food, drinks and merriment, as we thank our candidate, Margarita Windisch, our election volunteers and supporters. RSVP to Socialist Alliance to receive the address and directions for how to get to the party!
Conference: Chile 40 years. It has been 40 years since the overthrow of the popular and democratically elected government of President Salvador Allende in Chile. Local and international speakers, a film night with music, Latin American and Chilean activists. 10am-7pm. Richmond Town Hall, 333 Bridge Rd, Richmond. For more info ph Maria Teresa 0429 947 776, Andrea 0431 125 709 or Marisol 0447 138 517.
Saturday, September 21
Rally: Let the refugees in! Seeking asylum is a human right. No matter who wins the election, refugees will lose. We need too keep up the fight for refugee rights. 1pm. State Library, cnr Swanston &amp La Trobe Sts, City. Organised by Refugee Action Collective.
Thursday, September 26
Concert: UK Subs last ever Australian tour. The UK Subs are one of the most visibly successful punk bands of all time, establishing themselves in the history books with a staggering amount of releases and a relentless touring schedule that continues to this day. 'Punk pioneers UK Subs released their 24th politically-charged album last month, to rave reviews' (see Green Left Weekly). The Bendigo, 125 Johnston St, Collingwood. To book visit OZ tix.
Monday, September 30-Tuesday, October 1
The Victorian Trade Union Choir: I'll be there: Songs and stories of solidarity. Created and produced by choir members with award-winning playwright Rebecca Lister and musical director Michael Roper, over an hour of songs and stories gathered from the rich history of the trade union and labour movements and the Victorian Trade Union Choir. 7:30pm. La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St, Carlton. $25/$15. Bookings: La Mama or at the door or ph La Mama 9347 6142.
Wednesday, December 4-Saturday, December 13
Venezuela Solidarity Brigade: Participatory democracy, solidarity & socialism. Witness a people's revolution in the making. The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network's 14th solidarity brigade to Venezuela this December is a very special opportunity to observe, learn about and be inspired by the Bolivarian revolution that is transforming Latin America and challenging the greed, exploitation and destructiveness of global capitalism by showing that a better world is possible. Bookings close October 1. For bookings or info visit AVSN.

Geelong & regional Victoria

Thursday, August 29
Public meeting: Geelong Combined Refugee Action Group student meeting. 1pm. 1st Floor Library, Deakin Waurn Ponds Campus (near the cafe). For more info email Combined Refugee Action Group.
Friday, August 30
Drouin Public meeting: Drouin CSG information meeting. Speakers: Dr Gavin Mudd (Groundwater Specialist); Felicity Millner (Environment Defenders Office); Merryn Reddenbach (Doctors for the Environment). 7pm. The Drouin South Hall, Drouin-Korumburra Road. For more info email CSG Free.
Ballarat Public meeting: Where is Father Francis Joseph? In early 2013, the Commission for Justice & Peace of the Catholic Diocese of Jaffna wrote a letter to the President and members of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka and pointed out that 146,000 Tamil people were missing and still unaccounted for. One of the missing was Catholic priest, Father Francis Joseph. He was last seen on May 18, 2009 being taken by the Sri Lankan Army. Over the past 4 years, several attempts have been made to the Sri Lankan security agencies on his whereabouts but no information has been forthcoming. We are conducting a campaign to get 10,000 signatures to the Sri Lankan Government to provide information on his whereabouts. 5pm. The Diocesan Centre, 49 Lydiard St South, Ballarat. Organised by Campaign for Tamil Justice. For more info ph Aran 0410 197 814.
Saturday, August 31
Ballarat Rally: Ballarat for Equal Marriage. If you support same-sex marriage and believe everyone deserves equal rights we invite you to join us. 2pm. Ballarat skate park, Barkley St, Ballarat.
Saturday, September 7
Election night party:Join with the Socialist Alliance Corio campaign. Food & drink available. 6:30pm. Downstairs, Trades Hall, 127 Myers St, Geelong.
Friday, September 20
Red Cinema: Requiem for Detroit. What capitalism does: the rise and fall of a great industrial city. 7pm (meal from 6:30pm). Entry by donation. Downstairs, Trades Hall, 127 Myers St, Geelong. For more info ph 5222 6900.

Campaign committees

Beyond Zero Emissions Melbourne branch meetings. BZE's monthly branch meetings are a way for current and prospective BZE volunteers to meet up, get to know each other and discuss upcoming events such as presentations, stalls, film nights and discussion groups. Meets on the third Monday of every month at Level 2, Kindness House, 288 Brunswick St, Fitzroy. Active and prospective volunteers welcome. For more info email Chitra Perez or ph 0401 087 085.
Friends of the Earth's Anti-Nuclear & Clean Energy (ACE) collective meetings. Meets every second Tuesday. FoE office, 312 Smith St, Collingwood. For meeting times & more info email Zin.
Indigenous Social Justice Association. The Indigenous Social Justice Association was established in January 2005 to organise a Melbourne rally and march as part of a National Day of Action to mark the first anniversary of the death of Kamilaroi teenager, TJ Hickey in Redfern, and to demand a fresh inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death. Those organising this held consultations with interested members of the Victorian Aboriginal community. Participants in these consultations enthusiastically supported the proposal for a Melbourne rally to demand justice for TJ but asked that this not be a one-off event but part of an ongoing effort to permanently stop Aboriginal deaths in custody. During 2013, ISJA will meet the first Thursday of every month. For more info visit ISJA.
Melbourne Feminist Action Group. We think it's time to put women's rights back on the public agenda. We've started an open organising group and everyone's invited, from already existing women's rights groups and activist organisations, to women and men who may never have been involved in feminist action in their lives but just want to do something. We want to get together to have that crucial discussion: what can we do, right now, that will give this movement a push? It's open to everyone; anyone who attends can have their say. If you can make it, bring your ideas about what you would like to see happen next. For more info ph 0438 869 790 or email MelbFemAction.
Quit Coal: No New Coal Power for Victoria. A Melbourne-based collective which campaigns against expansion of the coal industry in Victoria. We believe this is important because building new coal infrastructure locks in decades of dirty, old technology, when we should be moving towards clean, renewable energy. Quit Coal meets each Wednesday at 6pm, at FOE, 312 Smith St, Collingwood. For more info visitQuit Coal or email Quit Coal.
Refugee Action Collective (RAC). Established in 2000, RAC is a democratic, grassroots activist collective, representing a broad cross section of the community. It aims to mobilise opposition to Australia's inhuman refugee policies. For more info ph 0413 377 978 or visit RAC.
Victorian Climate Action Calendar. For a comprehensive list of climate action events in our state. The VCAC covers events in Victoria and major events elsewhere and is intended to inform, educate and inspire. To subscribe to the calendar email Monique Decortis. Weekly updates are e-mailed out and online updates are available at VCAC. To add an event to the calendar, please download the Event Template from the website. Feel free to forward the VCAC to other interested people.
Workers Solidarity Network. WSN believes that we, as workers, have the power to improve our working conditions and bring about positive social change. WSN believes that our country is not a real democracy unless we have democratic workplaces where workers have a say. WSN believes that the only way to bring about a fairer share of resources in our society in by forming active unions and community organisations to fight for it. For more info visit WSN.


Recent articles from Green Left Weekly
Check out Green Left TV: See Refugee bashing is a weapon of mass distraction.
To subscribe to Green Left Weekly visit our secure online website for rates and payment at Green Left Weekly or call our national hotline on 1800 634 206. Join us on Facebook. You can also contact us at the Resistance Centre, 5th floor, 407 Swanston St, City; ph 9639 8622. In Geelong: Activist Centre, Trades Hall, 127 Myers St (opening hours: Mon 2-4.30pm, Fri 10am-4.30pm); ph 5222 6900.

Broad, non-sectarian, activist
Socialist Alliance
Socialist Alliance is a proud supporter of the Green Left Weekly project and contributes a regular column. Socialist Alliance is a broad, non-sectarian socialist party, dedicated to bringing together all those who want to resist the capitalist assault on our planet and its people and fight for a socialist society that puts people's needs before business profits. Anyone who agrees with the general approach of our policies is welcome to join and organisations are invited to affiliate. For more information visit Socialist Alliance. Join us on Facebook. See our recent statements:
Get involved
Moreland Socialists
The group is open to anyone (even if you live outside the area) who wants to work constructively to support Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton and use her position to build up a stronger activist left presence in Moreland. In general, we meet monthly and alternate between Coburg and Fawkner. If you want to get involved in the group, email us at Socialist Alliance or phone Sue on 9639 8622 or 0413 377 978. For news and opinion visit Sue's Moreland Report.
Contact Socialist Alliance. Join with other socialists in the struggle. Melbourne: Visit us at the Resistance Centre, 5th floor, 407 Swanston St, City; ph 9639 8622. In Melbourne, Socialist Alliance meets on the first Tuesday of each month, 6:30pm, at the Resistance Centre. Geelong: Activist Centre, Trades Hall, 127 Myers St (opening hours: Mon 2-4:30pm, Fri 10am-4:30pm); ph 5222 6900.

Links: 'socialism for the 21st century'
Links is an online journal which seeks to provide a forum for open and constructive dialogue between active socialists from different political traditions. It seeks to bring together those in the international left who are opposed to neoliberal economic and social policies, and reject the bureaucratic model of 'socialism' that arose in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Inspired by the unfolding socialist revolution in Venezuela, Links is a journal for 'Socialism of the 21st Century' and the discussions and debates flowing from that powerful example of socialist renewal.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Concern about Coal: Fighting Fracking in Victoria; Lakes Oil in Western Vic; an export facility on beautiful but fragile 90 Mile Beach

From Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth

Dear Friends

Thank you to everyone who came along to the ‘farmers and friends against fracking’ rally last Sunday.

As you know, our petition was one of the ones handed in to Greens MP Greg Barber on the 18th.

However, he has still not organised the community consultation he keeps promising.

Please email or call his office, asking him to engage with the community as a matter of urgency. Tell him that there should be no on-shore exploration or production of gas until we know whether it will be safe for people, water supplies and farming. Ask him to initiate a public inquiry into this matter.

A phone call has the most impact: (03) 9651 1156

But an email is good too:
Hon Nicholas KotsirasMinister for Energy and, 
Please remember, we have a monthly email newsletter, if you’d like to stay in the loop on what we are doing, please email with the words SUBSCRIBE CLIMATE in the subject line

Cam Walker
Friends of the Earth

·  Farmers and friends against fracking rally
·  Lakes Oil in Western VIC
·  Coal export facility on 90 Mile Beach?
·  Local meetings: Yarragon, Drouin, Catani
·  Getting involved

Farmers and friends against fracking

There is a great set of photos on the Quit Coal facebook page:

Lakes Oil – western VIC

Lakes Oil have been quietly drilling for gas in western Victoria under petroleum exploration permits PEP163 andPEP169. 
These were issued under the Petroleum act for 'tight gas', not the MRSD Act which is used for Coal Seam Gas (CSG). One permit allows for 3 wells and to 'frack' one, the other permit for one well, drilling only.
These sites are near Timboon and north of Peterborough (PEP 169)and a broad area from Aireys Inlet up towards Winchelsea and across to Geelong, then down through the Bellarine Peninsula (PEP 163).

If you live in either of these areas and want to help stop Lakes Oil, please get in touch.

We are hoping to hold an info session in Torquay shortly.

Further info here.

Coal export facility on 90 Mile Beach?

It has recently come to light that “a $3 billion rail line and port concept connecting the Latrobe Valley to the Bass Straight via a port at McGauran's Beach on the Ninety Mile Beach …is … the preferred export route by developers of alternative brown coal technologies”.

In May 2013, the Victorian government said that it wanted to see development of ‘next generation’ coal mines in the Latrobe Valley. An export industry will need new mines, new roads, new infrastructure and new ports.

So far, the Port of Hastings and Port Anthony have been suggested as possible locations for export infrastructure. A proposal for 90 Mile Beach seems particularly crazy.

We will be launching a campaign shortly, but in the meantime, check here for further details on what is proposed:

Local events

Below is a list of some of the other upcoming events/meetings in Gippsland. If you have been thinking of getting more involved, WE NEED YOU, please come along to any of the gatherings below, everyone is welcome!

Meet the Candidates Coal & Gas Forum 
When: Wednesday the 28th August @ 7pm
Where: Yarragon Public Hall, Campbell St, Yarragon
All known candidates in the McMillian electorate have been invited.
For more information email:
Friday 30th August, 7pm
Drouin CSG Information Meeting
@ The Drouin South Hall, Drouin-Korumburra road
Speakers: Dr Gavin Mudd (Groundwater Specialist), Felicity Millner (Environment Defenders Office)
and Dr Merryn Reddenbach (Doctors for the Environment)
Catani CSG Information Night
When: Wednesday 11th September @ 7pm
Where: Catani Football Club, Taplins road, Catani
Speakers Include: Ariane Wilkinson (Environment Defenders Office) &
Allison Sable (Seaspray Local)
For more info call Gillian on 0418 995 756

Getting involved

Friends of the Earth facebook: 
Quit Coal: 
FoE website: 

To support our work, please check here: 

Campaigns co-ordinator
Friends of the Earth
Box 222, Fitzroy, 3065
Ph: 03 9419 8700 (ext 20)
M: 0419 338 047

Animal Activists Alert for Melbourne, 19 and 20 October 2013

19 and 20 October

We are very excited about this year's event

With less than two months to go, we are very excited about this year's event. We have over 40 workshops planned, with some great international speakers, and more are yet to be confirmed.


We still have a couple of slots in the program, drop us a line if you would like to present.

For a complete list of confirmed speakers visit here.

Day of Activism

On Friday 18 October, we have a day of activism that has been arranged by independent groups and activists. This is entirely optional, and not part of the formal activists forum. The day of activism agenda is here. The day includes vegan leafleting by Vegan 101, a PETA demonstration, a rally by Melbourne Pigs Save, and a Skype workshop on long term vegan activism by one of the UK's most respected animal advocates.

Der Prozess (The Trial)

The day of activism will begin with a screening of the film Der Prozess (The Trial) which documents the political repression of animal advocates in Austria.

Later in the day, one of the trial defendants,  Martin Balluch, will be joining us via Skype to talk about his experiences.

Social Dinner

Our formal forum social dinner, held in conjunction with 'Keep Talking' will be held on Saturday 19 October, from 6:30pm. This time we will not just feed you, we hope to entertain you as well! For details, see here.

Buy tickets now!

Ticket numbers are limited, and ticket sales will close at midnight on Saturday 12 October. We would be sad if you missed out. Book Tickets Here.

Help to get the word out

We believe that this will be the Animal Activist event of 2013. Please help to make the event a success by getting the word out to all your contacts.

Copyright © 2013 Animal Activists Forum, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Animal Activists Forum
37 O'Connell Street
North Melbourne
MelbourneVictoria 3051

Add us to your address book

ACOSS on the campaign trail re child poverty in Oz. Are our politicians listening? Fix it!


ACOSS calls for reform of family payments to tackle child poverty: New campaign is launched

The Australian Council of Social Service today unveiled new modelling detailing a path for making Australia's Family Tax Benefit system fairer - by better targeting payments to families that need support the most and simultaneously reducing poverty.We've heard very little in this election campaign about poverty and ideas for reforming Australia's complex tax and transfer systems. ACOSS has been arguing for reform of both using the Henry Tax Review as the blueprint," said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie."We know there are nearly 600,000 children currently living in poverty in Australia and the recent annual report of the longitudinal study of households (HILDA) showed that it increased by 15% in the last year. This is simply unacceptable in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
"Our family payment system performs the vital dual roles of helping prevent child poverty and treating low and middle income families with children fairly by taking account of the costs of raising children in the tax-transfer system. We do not consider assisting low and middle income families with children as ‘middle class welfare'. However, it urgently has to be reformed if it's to prevent even greater levels of poverty.
"The family payment system is in urgent need of repair, having strayed from its primary goals over the past decade and increasingly been used for purposes that are not well targeted, such as the Baby Bonus, the Schoolkids Bonus, and the ‘Part B' payment for single-income couples.
"These two bonuses should be replaced with the savings not to be used to restore the budget bottom line, but instead used to restore the budget bottom line of low and middle income families.
"We want to see the savings from the Baby Bonus rolled into increased Family Tax Benefit A payments for preschool age children  (0 - 4), and the savings from the Schoolkids Bonus put into higher Family Tax Benefit A payments for school age children (5-18).
"Under our proposals, modelled by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM), around 50% of low income families (about 600,000 thousand families) in the bottom two quintiles would be on average around $1300 a year ( $25 a week) better off.
"Among the bottom 40% of families, three out of four families would receive higher payments. Sole parents, most of whom have low incomes, would particularly benefit with 71% better off.
"This reform, together with our proposed $50 a week increase in Newstart Allowance for single people, would help to offset recent payment cuts for sole parents fully reliant on income support.

"Our modelling using ‘cameos' of low income families with children of different ages shows that half currently fall below the poverty line. We found that three of these families currently below the poverty line (2 sole parent cameos and 1 couple families) would be lifted above the poverty line by the proposed changes.

"We call on the major parties to take the issue of poverty seriously and commit to restructuring the confusing Family Tax Benefits system as part of an anti-poverty plan for our nation.
"In these times of significant economic challenges, and falling revenues, we need to go ‘Back to Basics', with government assistance targeted to those who need it. Our proposals do not complete reform, but they take us in the right direction.
"ACOSS and our members across Australia's community welfare sector look forward to working with all parties and the next government in advancing such reforms," Dr Goldie said.
Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155
Download report: 'Back to basics: Simplifying Australia's family payments system to reduce poverty and support families'
Have a Heart: Say No to Child Poverty:

Summary of NATSEM modelling:
• Half of all low income families in the bottom two quintiles (594,662 families or 50%) would receive increased payments
• Among the bottom 40% of families, three families would receive higher payments for every one that receives lower payments
• Among the top 40%, approximately roughly equal proportions of families would receive higher and lower payments
• The changes particularly benefit low income sole parents with older children and low income couples with younger children
• Among the bottom quintile (those at high risk of poverty) 106,000 sole parents would gain an average of $1,410 a year and 66,000 couples with children would gain an average of $1,179
• Sole parents would particularly benefit - 71% would gain and 14% would receive lower payments, compared to 27% and 21% respectively for couples with children.

• Modelling using ‘cameos' of low income families with children of different ages shows that of 16 cameos fully reliant on social security payments half (8) currently fall below the poverty line
• Of these families, 3 (2 of the sole parent cameos and 1 of the couples) would be lifted above the poverty line by the proposed changes
• Overall, incomes of 1,175,000 families (25% of all families) would rise by an average of $1,203 per year
• Incomes of 606,000 families (13%) would fall by an average of $2,316
• Incomes of 2,857,636 families (62%) would be unchanged

ACOSS Proposals:
• Replace the Baby Bonus and the School Kids Bonus with increases in the maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit A for preschool and school age children respectively. Current expenditure on the Baby Bonus would go to increase the maximum rate of FTB A for parents of children aged between 0 - 4; and spending on the Schoolkids Bonus would go to increase the maximum rate of FTB A for school age children.
• Replace FTB Part B for sole parents with a Sole Parent Supplement (at a higher rate for parents of older children than the current FTB B) to reflect the higher costs and demands of caring for children as a sole parent.
• Limit FTB Part B for couples with one parent at home caring for children until the youngest child turns 13, and tighten the income test on the primary earner (usually the father) to target this payment to families in greatest need.
• Index family payments to movements in average earnings as well as the CPI.

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