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Without Prejudice: September 2022

Student Contribution: Laura Mayne

Job and Skills Summit

The new Labor government has undergone a ‘Job and Skills Summit’ to investigate issues and problems within this area from both a political and institutional perspective. In attendance was 142 people from a wide range of areas such as unions, business, community, academia and superannuation funds. There was a key focus on how to reduce the current labour shortages, the effectiveness of the ‘BOOT’ (Better off overall test), and how to adapt enterprise bargaining.

The summit produced 36 immediate initiatives. Some of the key initiatives include:

  • Increase skilled migrant intake from 160,000 per year to 200,000 places.

  • A one-off income credit so that age pensioners who want to work can earn an additional $4,000 over this financial year without losing any of their pension.

  • An additional $1 billion in joint federal-state funding for fee-free TAFE in 2023 and accelerated delivery of 465,000 fee-free TAFE places.

  • Extending visas and relaxing work restrictions on international students to strengthen the pipeline of skilled labour.

Overall, the government has promised to spend $5 billion before July 2023.

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The introduction of the Indigenous voice to parliament

As mentioned in the August edition of Without Prejudice, the Australian government is aiming to introduce an Indigenous Voice to parliament.

The establishment of a Voice to Parliament will ensure Indigenous Australians can advise parliament on any legislation, policies or projects that will impact their lives.

This idea has been in the works for over a decade:

  • John Howard first promised he would deliver a constitutional change in 2007;

  • Julia Gillard established an Expert Panel to review the pathway for this change in 2010;

  • the Referendum Council established in bipartisanship in 2015;

  • the First Nations National Constitutional Convention in Uluru in 2017; and finally,

  • the establishment of the Uluru Statement from the heart in 2020.

Just recently the Prime Minister revealed the draft wording. The aim is to simple and clear to avoid confusion amongst voters. The “starting point” three sentences are:

There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to Parliament and the Executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

The referendum will occur in either May 2023 or January 2024. Understandably, the parliament has shown reservations putting up referendums in the past with only 8/44 being successful. For the referendum to be successful both the majority of Australians must vote in favour of the proposition, and the majority of people in the majority of states must also be in favour.

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The ups and downs of the NDIS

What is the NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme was established in 2013 with the NDIS Act after a 2010 Productivity Commission into long-term disability support. The scheme went into full operation in 2020 and currently costs $26 billion annually and filled an underfunded and unfair hole which the previous National Disability Agreement was creating. Its introduction was social reform at the scale of introducing compulsory superannuation or Medicare and overall has done great things for funding members of our community with a disability to live a normal life instead of begging for the bare minimum and relying on unpaid family support.

The current issues

The issue the NDIS is currently facing is smoothing out its processes and making it more accessible for individuals to access support. The largest issue at hand is the ‘dehumanising’ short 3-hour individual assessment method, which has been accused of ‘cost-cutting’ and doesn’t fully examine the needs of a person with a disability and their family. Overall this process is not culturally safe and inhibits those from different backgrounds and with other challenges to access full support if they don’t understand how to sway the system. As a fresh new system, it is clear the NDIS needs further reform to improve its services.

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