Friday, April 24, 2009

Australia 2020 Summit - Strengthening communities, supporting families and social inclusion

Here are "Strengthening communities, supporting families and social inclusion" items accepted by the Australian Government in its "Responding to the Australia 2020 Summit" on 22 April 2009:

Australians value fairness and equality of opportunity. However a significant number of Australians lack the opportunities that many take for granted. Many suffer from a range of problems such as unemployment, low incomes, poor housing, crime, poor health and family breakdown. In difficult economic times, governments need to be more vigilant than ever in supporting families and communities and promoting social inclusion.

The Government recognises that to be a socially inclusive nation, all Australians must have the opportunity to secure a job, access services, connect with family, friends and the community, deal with personal crises, be free from discrimination and have their voice heard. The Government is committed to achieving these aims through partnerships with state, territory and local governments and the not-for-profit and private sectors, and by delivering targeted and tailored interventions that address localised systemic disadvantage.

A number of key themes emerged from the Communities Stream discussions at the 2020 Summit. Participants at the Summit considered that social inclusion is a 'first order issue' that is vital to the health of Australian society and recommended that a national plan or framework be prepared to address social inclusion. There was also a focus on disadvantage, violence, targeted strategies for early intervention and prevention, reviewing and redeveloping the funding of the community sector and developing a national metrics framework to measure the nation's progress on important social and community matters.

The Communities Stream developed a broad range of ambitions, themes and ideas that have influenced and guided the Government's policy in this area, including:

  • Homelessness - The Road Home - In December 2008, the Government released its White Paper on addressing homelessness, The Road Home, which outlines a plan for reducing homelessness in Australia by 2020, with specific goals to halve overall homelessness, and provide accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it. It provides an additional $1.2 billion over four years - a 55 per cent increase in investment in homelessness and a substantial down payment on a twelve year reform agenda. The plan includes prevention and early intervention measures to stop people becoming homeless, as well as improving and expanding services - in conjunction with states and territories - to break the cycle of homelessness.

  • National Action Plan for Social Inclusion - The Government is developing a National Action Plan for Social Inclusion. The plan is expected to be available for public release in late 2009 or early 2010. The National Action Plan for Social Inclusion will include an analysis of the nature and extent of social inclusion in Australia, a discussion of emerging issues, analysis of the costs and benefits associated with improving social inclusion, a description of current policy and a map for building social inclusion over the next decade.

  • Office for Youth and Australian Youth Forum - In September 2008, the Government established the Office for Youth, within the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, to ensure better coordination of youth policy across government. The Government also launched a new youth initiative, the Australian Youth Forum, to engage young people and the youth sector in ongoing public discussion and to facilitate their input into policy and decision making about issues that affect their lives.

The following tables provide the Government's response to the ideas raised by the Communities Stream at the 2020 Summit.

Key ideas being taken forward by the Government


2020 proposed ideas

Government response

Housing - Homelessness White Paper

  • Establish a national housing fund or foundation so that a proportion of every house sale is contributed to the fund (through stamp duty). This would be an endowment fund in perpetuity to address homelessness.

  • Develop a matrix of problems when working with the homeless to better fund services, leading to integrated solutions.

In December 2008, the Government released its White Paper on addressing homelessness. The White Paper outlines a plan for reducing homelessness in Australia by 2020, with specific goals to halve overall homelessness, and provide accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it. It provides an additional $1.2 billion over four years - a 55 per cent increase in investment in homelessness and a substantial down payment on a twelve year reform agenda. The plan includes prevention and early intervention measures to stop people becoming homeless, as well as improving and expanding services - in conjunction with states and territories - to break the cycle of homelessness.

This plan is supported by the Homelessness National Partnership with states and territories.

The Government's Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan includes funding of $6.4 billion to fund the construction of around 20,000 new public and community housing dwellings and repairs and maintenance, to around 2,500 existing public housing dwellings. The construction of new dwellings will be largely completed by December 2010.

The Government also provided $252 million to Defence Housing Australia (DHA) to construct 802 new dwellings in metropolitan and regional centres. The 802 new dwellings are additional to DHA's existing three year capital expenditure program (2008-09 to 2010-11) of $1.2 billion.

Tackling Disadvantage

  • Develop early intervention strategies at key transition points including adolescence and early childhood and increase the budget for this by 2020.

  • Develop early intervention, which is cost neutral in the long term.

  • Develop an early intervention scheme, not just focused on childcare but focused on engaging the community.

  • Target 5 per cent of the most disadvantaged communities with a range of interventions that can be skilfully managed within the community and in consultation with the community to build social and economic development.

  • Empower single mothers. This will reduce pressure and child abuse. Develop mentoring programs - for example, grandparent programs.

  • Create a 'day in the life of â€Â¦ being disabled/disadvantaged/Indigenous' to allow others to understand the reality of social exclusion.

  • Replace the language of disadvantage with positive words.

The Government has a strong commitment to tackling disadvantage. Groups that have been identified as early priorities for Government action include: homeless people; Indigenous people; people with a disability or mental illness; children at risk of long term disadvantage; jobless families; and people living in areas of concentrated disadvantage.

The Government's Social Inclusion Principles have been developed to guide social inclusion approaches to addressing disadvantage. They include long term aspirations - such as reducing disadvantage and increasing social, civic and economic participation - and approaches to help reach those goals, such as building on individual and community strengths and giving a high priority to early intervention and prevention. These Principles will underpin the Government's approach and include a focus on key transition points through different life stages.

The Government will be working closely with individuals, communities, state, territory and local government, business and third sector organisations to foster community engagement and participation and enhance service delivery to tackle disadvantage.

The Australian Social Inclusion Board, established in May 2008, also provides advice to the Government on ways to achieve better outcomes for the most disadvantaged. To date the Board has undertaken work relating to children at greatest risk of long term disadvantage, jobless families, and locations of concentrated disadvantage.

Measuring Social Inclusion

  • Social inclusion in government agencies - to be included in reporting, with all organisations to be open, accountable and transparent.

  • Require the government to lodge an independently audited annual social responsibility report.

  • Hold the Government accountable against corporate social responsibility standards in the same way the private sector is - Government to do triple-bottom-line reporting.

The terms of reference for the Australian Social Inclusion Board include a requirement to prepare an Annual Report on progress in social inclusion. This will include considering how to best measure progress in social inclusion and describing Australia's progress using a range of indicators.

National Action Plan for Social Inclusion

  • National Action Plan for Social Inclusion to increase social inclusion and combat poverty. It should be developed in consultation with the community and include evidence- based goals and measurable targets. The ambition and scope of the plan should reflect economic analysis of the return on investment produced by improving social inclusion. Issues of social inclusion should be considered in a wide range of policy areas.

  • Develop a social inclusion framework to guide work by all levels of government on issues such as income, housing, environment, education and workforce strategies. Have a matrix of issues that are affected by social inclusion and develop strategies for each.

  • Develop a national poverty strategy, including an Accommodation Guarantee, with clear targets and goals, to be overseen by an independent Poverty Commission. Government should model good practice in social inclusion and diversity. Apply a social inclusion test to all policy.

  • Recognise the long term economic value of social inclusion and costs of exclusion. Long term investment in eliminating discrimination and disadvantage offers economic benefits.

  • Undertake economic analysis of community interventions to demonstrate economic benefits of social inclusion through economic modelling of returns on investment. This is the way to make it a first-order issue.

  • Understand the metrics of investment: introduce the language of investment to policies that address disadvantage. One dollar investment equals an eight dollar pay-off. Long term returns.

The Government is currently developing a National Action Plan for Social Inclusion. The plan is expected to be publicly released in late 2009 or early 2010.

The National Action Plan for Social Inclusion will include an analysis of the nature and extent of social inclusion in Australia, a discussion of emerging issues, analysis of the costs and benefits associated with improving social inclusion, a description of current policy and a map for building social inclusion over the next decade.

The Social Inclusion Unit of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, with advice from the Australian Social Inclusion Board, is building a body of evidence on successful government policy and programs for disadvantaged groups and communities, and models to engage these communities in the development of solutions. This evidence base will inform the development of the Plan.

Indigenous Australians - Closing the Gap

  • Bring all Indigenous Australians out of disadvantage from early childhood through to old age and address current service gaps for Indigenous Australians.

Agree. The Government is committed to addressing Indigenous disadvantage and is using the Closing the Gap strategy to achieve this.

COAG has agreed to six ambitious targets to closing the gap in Indigenous disadvantage recognising that this will require a long-term, generational commitment that sees major effort directed across a range of strategic platforms.

As outlined in the Government's response to ideas from the Summit's Indigenous Stream, COAG has agreed to the following National Partnership agreements: Indigenous Early Childhood Development; Remote Service Delivery, Indigenous Health and Indigenous Economic Participation. The partnerships will deliver strategies and policies to meet COAG's targets and close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Children and Young People - Office of Youth

Also raised by:


  • Create a child and young person's commission (or similar body) to allow education, social and health issues to be coordinated.

  • Create a Commissioner for Children and Youth and establish a cohesive national youth policy that includes all departments and covers all areas, including health, education, participation and the rights of children.

The Office for Youth was established in September 2008 to lead the Australian Government's youth affairs reform agenda and to create and promote opportunities for the engagement and greater participation of young people in Australian society.

In addition, the Government has launched the Australian Youth Forum, which aims to engage young people and the youth sector in ongoing public discussion and facilitate their input into policy and decision making about issues that affect their lives.

Early Childhood Reform

Also raised by:


  • Support children's development through increased investment in early intervention and childhood education.

  • Ensure universal free access to early childhood education.

  • Increase training and support for those who care for and educate children, including the ability to deal with child protection and abuse.

  • Make early childhood care and education centres integrated and more community-based to identify the most disadvantaged, but at the same time relevant for the community, all children and all parents.

  • Facilitate more extensive use of school infrastructure to provide care for pre-school children.

  • Develop stronger links between early childcare centres. Recognise that bilingual education is very important in Indigenous communities.

  • Increase the status, training and support for those who care for and educate children, including parents, foster parents, care workers, teachers, childcare providers. Recognise children as people so that they will become happy, healthy adults.

  • By 2020 every Australian should be in a position to believe that every child has the same capacity and talent to lead a fulfilling life.

In July 2008 COAG agreed to develop a broad national strategy for early childhood developments during 2009. As a first step towards a national strategy, in November 2008 COAG agreed a National Partnership on Early Childhood Education which will provide $970 million over five years. This includes $955 million to achieve access to 15 hours a week early childhood education for all children in the year before school by 2013, to be delivered by four-year trained teachers and at a cost that is not a barrier to participation. An additional $15 million will be provided for data development and evaluation.

Through the National Partnership on Indigenous Early Childhood Development, joint funding of $564.6 million over six years has been committed, including funding for 35 Children and Family Centres which will be established across Australia. The centres will deliver integrated services including early learning, child care and family support. The funding will also increase access to ante-natal care, teenage reproductive and sexual health services and child and maternal health services tailored to the needs of Indigenous Australians.

The Australian Government is also investing $114.5 million over the next four years to establish, as a first phase, early learning and care centres, including six-autism specific centres. Where states and territories are interested in partnering with the Australian Government to create integrated service models, the Government will pursue opportunities to deliver a broader range of services within these centres. The Government will also work in partnership with other private providers to establish these centres.

Low SES School Communities

Also raised by:



  • Provide one-on-one support and special education for students who fall behind.

  • Overcome the public-private divide by funding students according to need and encouraging more private investment in public and private schools through:

  • Student-centred funding

  • Funding according to need, where disadvantaged students attract more funding and support to ensure that they become a productive participant in Australian society

  • Further cross-sector collaboration

  • Integrated sources of funding attached to students and/or institutions. One option would be to rationalise the use of private investment and then use public investment to make up the shortfall.

  • Provide education assistance for young people at risk or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • Provide case conferencing with school teachers and health professionals to meet the needs of children with conditions that impair their learning (rural).

  • Develop a school 'twinning' program—for example, pairing schools from different regions.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has agreed to a number of National Partnerships in relation to low socio-economic status school communities. The Australian Government will provide $1.5 billion over seven years to address the needs of disadvantaged schools, to be matched by states and territories. The Government will work with the states and territories on a range of reforms that will support the educational and wellbeing needs of students and schools in low socio-economic status communities.

COAG has also agreed to a National Partnership on Literacy and Numeracy that will aim to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes for all students, especially those who are falling behind. The Commonwealth will invest $540 million in this National Partnership, which will be complemented by state and territory investment. Research and data collection will be supported by funding of $40 million. This includes an additional $13 million for the collection and reporting of data through the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority for which funding of $17.2 million was announced in the last Budget.

The Dare to Lead Project, funded by the Government, drives change in schools through a coalition of school leaders who influence improvements in Indigenous education. The project's Partnerships Building Success direction for 2009-2012 has been supported by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and through the inclusion of colloquial reviews in sister school arrangements expect to increase the achievements in Indigenous student outcomes.

Asylum Seekers - Detention

  • Rethink refugee and asylum seeker policy to recognise our shared humanity as well as Australia's international obligations.

Agree. While maintaining strong border protection arrangements, the Government has abolished temporary protection visas, and has shut down off-shore processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. The Government has also committed to detention as a last resort; to detention for the shortest practicable period and to the rejection of indefinite or otherwise arbitrary detention.

Promoting Non-Violence

  • Establish a coordinating body to address violence against women and children and a national plan of action to combat violence against women and children.

  • Designating male role models to address violence in families.

  • Developing an early intervention and prevention strategy against family violence.

  • Developing a whole of government approach to capture Australian values of non-violence. We must work with all to regain respect and value, including male victims, as this is a whole-of-family issue.

  • Create a national violence prevention plan that will enable consistency across the nation. The plan will also acknowledge impacts on children, rather than focusing only on women.

  • Promotion of non-violence as a value, sponsored by the Prime Minister.

  • Eliminate violence by 2020 with a national strategy on sexual assault.

Agree. The Government is committed to addressing family violence. In May 2008, the Government established the National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. On 19 March the council released their National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, Time for Action. The Government is considering the plan before releasing it publically.

The Government is also working with states and territories to develop a National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children.

National Disability Strategy

Also raised by:


  • Ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities and supports as everyone else in the community.

  • Universal access principles for people with disabilities should pervade all social policy planning.

The Government is undertaking a range of activities in this area, including developing a National Disability Strategy with the states and territories.

The Government agrees that people with disabilities must have access to the same rights as the broader community. In November 2008 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) committed to a new National Disability Agreement, under which the Commonwealth will provide $5.3 billion to state and territory governments for specialist disability services. Under the agreement, all governments are committed to helping people with a disability achieve economic and social inclusion, have the opportunity to live as independently as possible, and to support their families and carers.

On 18 July 2008, the Government ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force on 16 August 2008 and in December 2008, tabled a National Interest Analysis proposing that Australia accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties reported its views on 12 March 2009 and recommended that Australia accede to the Optional Protocol.

The Government is also developing a National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy to help people with disability and mental illness to participate in the economy by finding and retaining jobs. The Setting the Direction paper for the strategy was released jointly by the Minister for Employment Participation and the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children's Services on 22 December 2008. It outlines the directions the Government is taking, and will take, to increase employment for people with disability.

Same-Sex Couples - Removing Legal Discrimination

  • Give same-sex relationships equal legal recognition across Australia.

The Government is of the view that couples who have a mutual commitment to a shared life, but who are not married, should not be discriminated against.

The Government is already addressing discrimination issues faced by same-sex couples with legislative reform to provide for equality of treatment under a wide range of Commonwealth laws.

One further step towards eliminating discrimination against same-sex couples is for their relationships to be legally recognised. The most appropriate way to achieve this is by the development of nationally consistent, state-based relationship recognition that will include the opportunity for committed couples to have their relationships registered. As part of the Government's same-sex law reforms, registered relationships will also be recognised in many Commonwealth laws to provide a more consistent approach to the recognition of relationships.

Human Rights Reform Package

Also raised by:


  • Embed a non-discriminatory clause in the Constitution (not the preamble).

On 10 December 2008, the Commonwealth Attorney-General announced a national consultation process on human rights and responsibilities in Australia. The consultation will be conducted in the first half of 2009 by a committee comprised of Father Frank Brennan SJ AO (Chair), Ms Tammy Williams, Ms Mary Kostakidis and Mr Mick Palmer AO APM. The consultation delivers a key election commitment made by the Government and provides an opportunity for all Australians to share their views on how human rights and responsibilities can be better recognised and protected.

The consultation will encourage broad community debate on a range of human rights issues, not only on whether a Charter or Bill of Rights is necessary. The consultation does not presuppose any outcome, although the Government has made it clear that any proposals must preserve the sovereignty of Parliament.

The full list of related ideas can be found in the Governance Stream.

National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP)

Also raised by:



Incorporate Asia literacy into Australian society to increase the knowledge of Asian and regional languages and societies to enhance Australia's global engagement and intelligence. This could be done by:

  • Boosting the teaching of Asian languages in primary and secondary schools

  • Mainstreaming language education

  • Recruiting foreign language teachers from local communities and overseas

  • Reinvigorating professional teacher training, including for native speakers and our ethnic communities

  • Developing a comprehensive national Asia literacy strategy at all levels of the education system by 2020. This should be backed by funding at least equivalent to the former National Asian Languages and Studies Strategy for Australian Schools

  • Ensuring by 2020 that Australia will no longer be the worst-ranked OECD country for second-language skills and that it is positioned to benefit from the economic reality of an increasingly Asia-centric world

  • Ensuring by 2020 every child in Australia can speak a language other than English and will learn about the contribution of other cultures to Australia

  • Ensuring that Australians directly experience Asia.

Agree in-principle. The Government has committed $62.4 million to implement the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP) over 2008-09 to 2010-11, in recognition of the importance of Asian languages and studies in equipping young Australians with the skills to compete in the globalised economy of the future.

The NALSSP commenced on 1 January 2009 and provides opportunities for school student to become familiar with the languages and cultures of four of Australia's Asian neighbours, namely China, Indonesia, Japan and Korea.

Through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) processes, all governments have committed to the NALSSP and an aspirational target that, by 2020, at least 12 per cent of all students exit Year 12 with a fluency in one of the target Asian languages. NALSSP focuses on increasing both student demand and teacher supply.

In addition, the Government's recent Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan includes $1 billion to build up to 500 science laboratories or language learning centres in secondary schools.

The second phase of the National Curriculum will also include language education.

Student Services Funding

  • Repeal voluntary student unionism and fund student organisations that build up skills and development for non‑government organisations.

The Minister for Youth has proposed a new approach to voluntary student unionism which allows universities to charge students a compulsory fee of up to $250 per year with students being given the option of deferring the fee to a HELP-style loan scheme.

Mentors for Our Students

Also raised by:


  • Create mentoring programs for young people to address gaps in education. Volunteer mentoring programs are beneficial to both young people and older people.

  • Extend the 'Golden Guru' mentoring concept beyond business by engaging experienced retired members of the community in schools.

  • Build a male mentoring program into schools to educate young men.

The Government has committed $5 million over four years to establish a pilot volunteer mentoring program. This program will give recently retired professionals and tradespeople the chance to pass on their knowledge and skills to secondary students in Australian schools. Grants of up to $50,000 each year will be available to 25 communities on a competitive basis to establish the pilot program through existing Local Community Partnerships. Funding will meet training and associated costs for mentors.

The states and territories also have a range of programs in this area.

Skills Development

Also raised by:


  • Provide free access to vocational education and training programs for every unemployed person.

  • Expand scholarship schemes to cover further education and other accredited training for remote, rural and regional students, trainees and apprentices.

  • Provide a well-trained and well-resourced workforce. Address ageing workforce, lack of skills, lack of parity in wages - for example, mining versus community sector.

Agree in-principle. As part of its Skilling Australia for the Future initiative, the Government is funding an additional 711,000 training places over five years, including 85,000 apprenticeship places and 309,000 training places for jobseekers who need training to assist them in participating in the labour force. The most recent expansion, announced 24 February 2009, provides 10,000 additional places to assist newly retrenched workers to access training.

The Government's Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan included a $511 million Training and Learning Bonus. The Bonus has two components. First, it provides a one-off bonus of $950 to students and to certain other income support recipients to assist with education costs for the 2009 academic year. Second, it provides a temporary additional incentive for eligible social security recipients to return to education and training. This incentive is in the form of a $950 temporary supplement to the Education Entry Payment, which provides financial assistance to commence approved training and education courses.

In addition from 1 July 2009, an additional 3,650 pre-vocational training and support places will be provided to young people aged 19-24 years through the Australian Apprenticeships Access Program. The $30.2 million expansion of the program will support at-risk jobseekers to pursue apprenticeships or training.

Workforce Participation - Employment Services Arrangements

  • Develop compact agreements, underpinned by goals and targets, between employers, government and community enterprises to support the unemployed into jobs and housing.

Agree in-principle. The Government will introduce simpler and more effective employment services arrangements from July 2009. The new services will provide opportunities for job seekers to train in areas of skill shortage. There will also be a greater emphasis on helping employers find work-ready job seekers.

In addition, the Australian Employment Covenant (AEC) is an example of a commitment between employers and government to assist Indigenous Australians into jobs. The Prime Minister pledged the Government's support to the AEC, a private sector initiative announced by the CEO of Fortescue Metals Group, Mr Andrew Forrest.

Workforce Participation - National Employment Standards

Also raised by:


  • Regulate the labour market for all workers, without artificial concepts of master-servant. Industrial relations regulation is based on legal concepts that are no longer relevant and does not fit the shape of the labour market of today (e.g., independent contractors).

  • Rostered-day-off time should be banked for parents to take a day off when the family needs it.

The Parliament has passed legislation introduced by the Government to create a new workplace relations system. The Fair Work Act 2009 broadly deals with the proposed ideas. Legislation preventing the making of new Australian Workplace Agreements commenced in March 2008. The Fair Work Act provides:

  • A safety net of ten legislated National Employment Standards for all employees in the national system including the facilitation of flexible working arrangements by providing parents with right to request a change to working arrangements where they have a child under school age or child with a disability under the age of 18

  • A simple modern award system that provides flexibility and stability and industry specific terms and conditions. Modern awards also include a provision which enables the tailoring of working arrangements to meet the needs of employers and employees through individual flexibility agreements

  • An enterprise-level collective bargaining system focused on promoting productivity

  • Unfair dismissal laws, which balance the rights of employees to be protected from unfair dismissal with the need for employers, particularly small business, to fairly and efficiently manage their workforces

  • A new institutional framework comprising, Fair Work Australia,(the new independent umpire to oversee the new workplace relations system) and the Fair Work Ombudsman to provide practical information and advice and ensure compliance with workplace laws.

Workforce Participation - Older People

  • Encourage older people to rejoin the workforce, particularly to address skill shortages and gaps.

Agree. Australians who retire after a lifetime of work have earned the right to spend the remainder of their lives in leisure should they wish to do so. However, many retirees do not want to give up working completely.

The Government has established a Participation Taskforce to look at ways to increase workforce participation and training opportunities for people over 55 years and for parents.

Migrants and Asylum Seekers -Resettlement Programs

  • Resettlement strategies for refugees should be comprehensive, long term and integrated, should include delivery of services from local communities and should recognise our shared humanity and international obligations.

There are three Government resettlement strategies in place -the Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Strategy, a Complex Case Support program (commenced nationally in October 2008) and a Settlement Grants Program. The Government will ensure that these programs provide the best possible settlement experience for migrants, particularly refugee and humanitarian entrants.

Sustainable Cities

Also raised by:


  • Lead a nationally consistent approach to urban and regional planning which drives water efficiency and reductions in emissions; i.e. a National Sustainable Cities Program. This could be supported by the implementation of tax and other policies that encourage the use of public transport relative to other modes of transport.

  • Development of an urban design strategy for all towns and cities, including physical infrastructure, that would encourage social connectedness.

  • Rethink urban design to encourage social connectedness.

  • National Sustainable Cities Program - water efficiency.

  • Undertake a national agenda to plan for cities and population through establishment of a planning commission type organisation that sets goals and targets for cities.

Agree in-principle. The Government is providing urban planning policy leadership through the creation of the Major Cities Unit within the Infrastructure portfolio, announced on 30 April 2008. This Unit's task is to identify opportunities where federal leadership can make a difference to the prosperity and sustainability of our cities and the wellbeing of their residents.

The Water for the Future initiative and COAG's further work on urban water, water efficiency and sustainable buildings are also addressing this issue. In November 2008, COAG agreed to the adoption of the enhanced national urban water reform framework to improve the security of urban water supplies.

Australia's Future Tax System Review will also consider the issues of fuel, roads and transport, including the efficiency of existing taxes. It will explore possible opportunities to move to more targeted taxes and user charges that promote the efficient use of transport networks.

Community Safety - CyberSmart

  • Teach 'cybersafety' to families, to ensure that children are safe when online. Have a CyberSmart program in schools.

Agree. The Government is committed to combating online threats and protecting children from inappropriate material, and is providing $125.8 million over four years to establish the Cyber Safety Plan.

Community Engagement

Also raised by:




  • Define social citizenship and promote it - active, responsible social citizens, including organisations, not just individuals.

  • Establish a Charter of Community Engagement (similar to a Charter of Human Rights).

  • Establish an Office of Social Innovation and a Charter of Community Engagement. The office would have equal government, corporate and non-profit funding, and its first task would be to develop a Charter of Community Engagement to outline how the government goes about engaging with the community in the process of developing and delivering public policy. This would include an agreement to take a national approach to community facilitation.

The Government agrees with the idea of enhancing community engagement. The Government's approach is to trial different and innovative mechanisms and draw on specific suggestions across several streams in that context.

For example the Government is committed to developing practical initiatives in e-governance that increase the communities' ability to interact with the parliament and the policy development processes of government.

The Government is also considering holding a set of forums that will bring together experts, business and community representatives and others.

The full list of related ideas can be found in the Governance Stream.

Values and Civic Education

Also raised by:


  • Modify curricula from kindergarten to postgraduate education to include civic and moral education and engagement, social values and social inclusion in the education system which will ensure children are exposed to diverse value systems, other cultures and levels of disadvantage, with a specific focus on Indigenous issues.

  • Develop greater inclusion strategies at school to reduce exclusion and racism.

  • Provide active citizenship training as a universal component of primary and secondary school curricula and available to the broader community.

  • Incorporate active citizenship education as part of the school curriculum.

  • Develop and implement a national civics curriculum.

  • Establish a forum or audit to identify good practices and programs on values in Australia and internationally, using these to develop national programs.

  • Hold a national ethics and values convention every ten years or so to converse about our national key values.

The Government agrees with the importance of informed community discussion and education regarding Australian values.

Through the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (released on 5 December 2008), the Government - along with state and territory governments - has agreed to work in collaboration with all school sectors to support all young Australians to become active and informed citizens.

The development of a national history curriculum will also provide significant opportunities for Australian students to access civics and citizenship education. The national history curriculum is being progressed by the Interim National Curriculum Board. Once operational, the national history curriculum will be developed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority,

The annual National Values Education Forum allows governments and the education community to engage in discussion about and develop best practices for values education.

The Australian Human Rights Commission plays an important role in educating and raising awareness about racism, racial vilification and harassment. The Commission delivers a range of educational programs that are specifically developed for young people.

The Government indicated in its November 2008 response to an independent review of the Australian Citizenship Test that work is underway on a whole-of-government approach to the promotion of civics and citizenship in the general community.

Urban Sustainability - National Energy Efficiency Strategy

Also raised by:


  • Introduce an energy efficiency strategy for every sector (leveraging our natural advantages - at low cost).

  • Climate-proof low-income households - for example using compact fluorescent light globes, low-flow shower roses, and home energy audits.

  • Include specific measures in climate change strategies to support low‑income households to adjust (for example, funding for household modifications). Take a methodical approach to rolling this out locally (for example, house-to-house approach, tradespeople going street by street) and increase local employment and opportunities for community enterprises to implement this.

  • Include the agriculture and energy sectors (high-emission sectors), with all buildings to be green by 2020 and flow-ons to all other parts of the economy.

In October 2008, COAG agreed to develop a National Strategy for Energy Efficiency to help households and businesses prepare for the introduction of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The strategy includes options for the development of national legislation for appliance energy performance standards to reduce transaction costs for business. The Government is considering further action in this area.

The Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme White Paper sets out a new package of financial assistance for Australian households worth around $6 billion a year to be funded from the sale of carbon pollution permits

  • In addition, the $3.9 billion Energy Efficient Homes Package will provide up to $1,600 for installing ceiling insulation for Australian home owner‑occupiers and $1,000 for installing insulation in private rental properties. This package will result in ceiling insulation for around 2.7 million homes.

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