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Open Letter to the Treasury regarding the 2006 Federal Budget

Friday 9th of December 2005

9 December 2005

 

The Treasury

Langton Crescent

Parkes ACT 2600

 

Please find below a submission for the Federal Budget 2006.

 

The Anglican Counselling Service (ACS) identifies opportunities for the Australian Government to invest in individuals, families and communities in regional, rural and remote areas through FRSP in order to increase the programmes accessibility and effectiveness.

 

ACS calls of the Australian Government in the 2006 Federal Budget to:

 

  1. Support the Family Services Australia (FSA) submission to the 2006 Federal Budget here attached.
  2. Address the gaps of service delivery in regional, rural and remote areas and in particular the increasing complexity of mental health issues that ACS is addressing.
  3. Address the funding inequity to ACS for Family Relationship Counselling under FRSP and fund to the evidenced need.
  4. Secure the viability of FRSP in regional, rural and remote areas with an appropriate costing methodology.

 

About us:

 

The Anglican Counselling Service (ACS) was established by the Anglican Diocese of Armidale in 1986 under the leadership of Miss Lois Reid. Since that date, ACS has been providing personal, family and marriage counselling, pre-marriage and post-marriage education, life skills education, professional supervision and counsellor training in the regional, rural and remote areas of the New England and North West of NSW in accordance with its Ordinance or Constitution. ACS covers an area in excess of 100 000sq kms. ACS operates from Tamworth (also administration centre), Walcha, Uralla, Armidale, Glen Innes, Inverell, North Star, Moree, Narrabri, Gunnedah and Baradine with 23 paid and 7 volunteer staff.

 

Opportunities:

 

  1. Support the FSA 2006 Federal Budget Submission

    The FSA Submission is a carefully considered submission drawing on the expertise and experience of the family relationship and related family services sector who are highly committed to providing positive outcomes for children, families and communities.
     
  2. Address the gaps of service delivery in regional, rural and remote areas.

    Recently ACS gave a couple a voucher for petrol for their car to help them attend a family relationship counselling session 100 km from their home.

    There are many rural communities in the New England and North-West who are unable to access counselling services due to the cost of travel and distance, low incomes and a lack of family relationship and mental health services.

    Counselling practitioners visiting smaller rural communities regularly will increase accessibility to family relationship counselling services, especially for those people who can least afford it.

    Family Services under FRSP that are inadequately funded or non-existent in the New England and North-West of NSW are Family Relationship Counselling, Children’s Contact Services and Men & Family Relationship Services.

    ACS calls on the Australian Government to establish a consultancy group from regional, rural and remote areas to identify gaps and advise Government on how best to meet the need.
     
  3. Address the funding inequity to ACS for Family Relationship Counselling under FRSP and fund to the need as demonstrated by evidence from FaCSLink, FaCS’ own statistical recording database.

    In 2004/5, ACS experienced a 9% increase in clients seeking help. In total, ACS helped 1 026 clients through Family Relationship Counselling with increasing complexity of mental health issues being presented including personality disorders, addictive disorders, depression, psychotic depression and suicidality.

    The recurrent funding allocation to ACS in 2004/5 for Family Relationship Counselling under FRSP was $103/client for a target 650 clients. Yet ACS received for Drought Counselling, $348/client for a target of 333 clients.

    Regional, rural and remote areas incur higher costs related to distance and transport, telecommunication and technology, recruitment and wages, safety and security, professional development, community development needs and the lower capacity to generate income where the household income of rural households is 1/3 less than metropolitan incomes.

    In 2004/5, 90.4% of ACS clients were on incomes less than the national average income of $1008/week (ABS, September 2005). Further, 54% of ACS clients were on incomes of $299/week or less.

    ACS calls on the Australian Government to allocate $300/client for a total of 1 000 clients for Family Relationship Counselling under FRSP in its recurrent funding commitment to ACS and commit to further examining costs and needs in the next funding cycle.
     
  4. Secure the viability of FRSP in regional, rural and remote areas with an appropriate costing methodology.

    FaCS undertook a Costing Methodology Review as a part of the FRSP Review in 2004/5. The sector is still waiting for the results of their review. Issues that need to be considered in the establishment of a costing methodology for regional, rural and remote areas are transport and distance, telecommunications and technology, recruitment and wages, safety and security, professional development, appropriate infrastructure, community development costs and the lower household income of people serviced.

    ACS calls on the Australian Government to establish an FRSP Costing Methodology with ongoing consultation with the sector in regional, rural and remote areas to ensure the ongoing viability and sustainability of FRSP services.

 

For further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Rev Brian Kirk

Executive Director

Anglican Counselling Service

cc: Costello, Howard, Anderson, Windsor, MacDonald, Patterson, Ruddock, Ley, Plibersek, Evans, Lundy, FSA, Anglicare, ACS Board

 


For More Information Contact:

Anglican Counselling Service (Diocese of Armidale)
PO Box 3052 Tamworth 2340
Tel: (02) 6762 4380
FAX: (02) 6762 5740
Internet: acsdarm@acsdarm.org.au

 


Authorised: Rev Brian Kirk, Executive Director

8 August, 2006

Phone contact: (02) 6762 4380



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