Social Justice Forum 2016 – Taking action

The 2016 Social Justice Forum was buzzing with a real understanding and commitment for key advocacy messages. 130 delegates attended in total, including representatives from all Central Councils, special works, state support office teams and support services. Social justice is a common thread binding our members, volunteers and employees for the common good of those we assist.

Janine Young, Energy Ombudsman also joined us to help gain clarity on key messages relating to energy.

Over the past year people have come to really engage with the concept of social justice as the animation of our service. But still members were unsure about what to specifically speak up about and how to speak up. With this in mind the theme of Action and Clarity was chosen for 2016.

Participants attended workshops and considered:
• What key messages (from our three key areas, housing, energy and asylum seekers) would have the greatest impact and likelihood of success?
• What delegates could do about an issue in his or her role.
Each person then listed the actions they would take in the next 18 months.

“I went into the forum feeling like I knew what social justice was. I came out understanding that I was social justice.”Forum delegate

A set of key advocacy messages were set, approved by the Board, and will be our primary focus for the next 18 months. Each key message will be supported with campaign material.

Affordable housing and homelessness
1. Adoption by the Commonwealth Government of a Commonwealth Social and Affordable housing fund.
2. Adoption by the State Government of modified planning laws to require that affordable housing comprise at least 15 per cent of all major developments.

Refugees and asylum seekers
1. Adoption of an internal and external campaign to inform Society members and the general public about current challenging circumstances for asylum seekers and the structural changes needed to correct these challenges.
2. A campaign to remove all children and their families from offshore detention and to re-assess conditions in Alternative Places of Detention.

Energy affordability and cost of living pressures
1. Agreement by State Government to extend the use of EAPA vouchers to caravan parks, retirement villages, other gas users etc.
2. Approval by State Council to work with the Energy and Water Ombudsman to develop and run an internal member campaign to promote flexible use of EAPA vouchers.
3. Investigation into Energy Efficiency Standards for social and affordable housing, by the Social Justice committee and the SSO team (we will look at benefits and costs of a State Government solar fund and of stronger energy efficiency standards for social and affordable housing).

The energy generated during the day was invigorating and it’s clear it made a difference for many participants. 80 per cent of participants said they had a clearer understanding of the messages and 64 per cent felt much more confident taking action.

So let’s remember to take action and keep the momentum growing.

Over the coming months Social Justice Representatives will be helping everyone interested to engage with the campaign either by contributing case studies and examples, speaking to Members of Parliament, or hosting events.

If you are interested please contact your Central Council Social Justice Representative or Felix Delhomme, Social Justice Officer Felix.Delhomme@vinnies.org.au or 9568 0268

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