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Federal Election 2022

On Wednesday, 13 April 2022, the AASW published its National Policy Platform. It will be the basis for our campaigning during the campaign period and into the next term of Parliament.

AASW National Policy Platform - National Policy Platform

Check the left-hand menu for all our campaign actions so far.

This is the Australian Electoral Commission Federal Election page.

This is the ABC's Guide to the Federal Election for 2022.

The above two links will help you keep track of your candidates and everything you need to know if you wish to lobby yourself during this campaign.

AASW Federal Election 2022 Policy Blog

We will be updating this blog as the Federal Election campaign for 2022 progresses. Keep visiting this page for more updates! If you're a member, discuss all these issues and more in the Hub. Access it under the menu on the left-hand side.

Home to Bilo

The AASW congratulates Angela Fredericks and Bronwyn Dendle, the people in Biloela, and all their supporters who have succeeded in their campaign to return the Murugappan family to Biloela. Through their #HometoBilo campaign, they have shown the power of community action to stand up against injustice and to defend human rights.

Angela and Bronwyn’s courage and determination had already convinced many of us and helped other influential people to change their position. On Saturday, the electorate chose to be represented by the parties and candidates who share this vision. Finally, we have a government that agrees with us. You can hear how Angela and Bronwyn have succeeded in our AASW’s Social Work people podcast episode ”#Hometobilo: Speaking a language that politicians can’t speak”. Social workers will always stand up for the rights of vulnerable and marginalized people, as will all of us at the AASW. Well done Angela and Bronwyn.

Listen to that podcast episode.

Election day

21 May 2022

Election day is here! Today the AASW is urging Australians to carefully consider how the policies of political parties and independents will affect our communities.

AASW members want to see the next government investing in social housing, addressing housing affordability and significantly reducing homelessness.

Cost of living harms those on lower incomes, we need to scrap cashless debit cards and fix our punitive social security system to keep people out of poverty.

Climate change is a social justice issue, we need urgent and immediate climate action.

We want to see better, more coordinated investments in mental health, with social workers and Accredited Mental Health Social Workers playing pivotal roles in the mental health workforce and services.

The aged care system is broken, we want to see the next government fully commit to fixing our aged care systems, with social workers embedded in aged care facilities, as part of multidisciplinary teams, with other allied health practitioners.

We want positive reforms to the NDIS. The Australian Government must ensure there are rights-based, person-centred, culturally safe and trauma-informed supports for people with disability.

Violence against women

20 May 2022

Australia is facing an epidemic of violence against women and their children. At this election, this issue has not featured much during the campaign. We call on all parties to act on our vision for an equitable and safe society working to eliminate violence against women and other communities.

To achieve this, the next government must:

  1. Create a specific plan to end violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
  2. Ensure the next National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children is rigorous, comprehensive, and uses an evidence-informed approach.
  3. Invest in programs to minimise women’s financial dependence on violent partners.
  4. Increase women’s options for safe affordable housing for themselves, their children and pets escaping from family violence.
  5. Introduce a Medicare item for family violence-related mental health services.
  6. Overhaul the family court system to ensure report writing is undertaken by professionals trained in identifying and responding to family violence.

Here is a current scorecard on the major parties' stance on women's safety: https://voteforsafety.com.au/

Asylum seekers and refugees

20 May 2022

We stand for the rights of people seeking asylum and refugees. The next Australian Government must recognise the human rights of all people to seek safety from persecution. It must fulfil our international legal obligations.

Our next government should:

  1. End indefinite and arbitrary mandatory detention of people seeking asylum and refugees.
  2. Implement community-based alternatives to detention, which include the provision of health, independent legal services, education, social and other holistic services necessary to ensure the wellbeing and settlement of people to Australia.
  3. Increase the intake of refugees into Australia, reflecting the higher numbers of globally displaced persons and people seeking asylum.
  4. Streamline and speed up the assessment and processing of applications for asylum and refugee status so that people have a more speedy resolution to their situation.
  5. Increase and expand Refugee and Humanitarian support services and programs.
  6. Exercise the Minister’s power to grant a visa to the Murugappan family and return them to Biloela.

Seeking asylum is a human right.

You can see where the major parties stand on asylum seekers and refugees, as well as contact all your candidates to tell them Australia must do better here: https://action.asrc.org.au/email-candidates-fulladdress

Climate action

19 May 2022

We need real and immediate action against the climate emergency. AASW social worker members nominated action on climate as one of the top priorities this election. Although the climate affects everyone, the burden of climate change falls most heavily on people living with social vulnerabilities.

Communities that are marginalised are often more likely to experience the harm caused by climate change. The next government must understand that the environment is a key determinant of health. We join the Climate and Health Alliance in calling for the next government to implement a Healthy, Regenerative and Just Framework.

CAHA have produced a health check to measure how the major parties' policies rate on the environment, health and social wellbeing: https://www.caha.org.au/hrj-agenda

Cost of living

18 May 2022

Much of the public discussion and media attention during this election campaign has been around the high cost of living. Social workers are concerned for people on low incomes, people stuck in poverty and other vulnerable people.

The AASW calls on the next government to fix our social security system so that it keeps people out of poverty, enables people to maintain a minimum standard of dignity and health and enables people to find work. We know that 68 per cent of Australians agree with us; and ACOSS’s new polling shows that 46 per cent of people would change their vote to support an increase to JobSeeker. We can all let the major parties know that they are out of step with the community using this link:

https://raisetherateforgood.good.do/election2022/emailMPsocialsafetynet/

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

17 May 2022

The AASW stands alongside the LGBTIQA+ community in their fight for bodily autonomy, freedom from discrimination and their right to appropriate services.

This includes recognising the needs of LGBTIQA+ people for safe, affirming and culturally appropriate health care and other services whatever their situation or stage of life. That includes aged care, mental health services, assistance for people with disability, or responses to family and domestic violence.

Affirming, accessible, and affordable healthcare is a human right.

The AASW believes that the current public discussion lacks respect, compassion and departs form the values that all social workers share, and which are described in the AASW’s code of ethics.

The code of ethics captures every social worker’s respect and celebration of the inherent dignity, worth and autonomy of every person.

IDAHOBIT’s theme of OUR BODIES, OUR LIVES, OUR RIGHTS highlights the need for all LGBTIQA+ people to have autonomy over their lives. We believe this is missing in the harsh and judgemental statements from a noisy minority in the lead up to the election.

https://www.lgbtiqhealth.org.au/electionpriorities

Aged care

16 May 2022

The public is well aware of many tragic shortcomings in the aged care system. Voters have nominated the aged care system as a top election priority.

The AASW is pushing for a move towards a rights-based approach to aged care where every older Australian is able to live well, with dignity and independence, as part of their community and in a place of their choosing, with a choice of appropriate and affordable support and care services when they need them.

We want to see the next government fully commit to fixing our aged care systems. We want to see social workers embedded in aged care facilities, as part of multidisciplinary teams, with other allied health practitioners.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/may/06/cost-of-living-and-fixing-aged-care-are-top-concerns-as-election-nears-anu-poll-shows

Social housing

16 May 2022

AASW members nominated investment in social housing and ending homelessness as a top priority for the social work profession in this election.

We asked the Coalition, the Australian Labor Party and the Greens to comment on what their housing policy will mean for social workers and the people we work with. We received the following response from Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Greens’ senator for New South Wales and spokesperson for the Housing portfolio.

“As social workers who care so deeply about these issues, you know very well that the housing affordability and homelessness crisis has been intensifying for years, and in the pandemic it has evolved from a serious problem into an outright emergency. Essential workers, like social workers, nurses and teachers, can no longer afford to live in areas they work in.

The scale of the housing crisis requires bold policies, which is why the Greens have put forward fully costed plans for one million new publicly-owned homes to be built over 20 years, as a mix of public and social housing, shared equity ownership homes and universal access rentals for essential workers and others.

We are also the only party committed to ending tax breaks like the capital gains tax discount and negative gearing that overwhelmingly benefit the rich. Our plan will bring house prices and rents back under control, and ensure a home for all. The Greens will fund a fivefold increase to homelessness funding with a boost of $550m a year, strengthen renters’ rights and work to have a National Housing and Homelessness strategy in place.”

Further Greens policies on housing, homelessness and renters rights can be found online: One Million Homes | Australian Greens and Ending Homelessness | Policies | Australian Greens and Renters rights | Policies | Australian Greens.

We will provide responses from other parties as they become available.

Gender equity

12 May 2022

The AASW is disappointed that gender equity has been sidelined in this debate. We represent a predominantly female workforce, and we observe the many dimensions of gender-based inequality in the lives of the people we work with. The pandemic has exposed the importance of the caring workforce, and yet it remains one of the most poorly paid.

We are disappointed that a proposal to pay superannuation on paid parental leave has been dropped. Women are still the majority of primary caregivers in Australia. The loss of superannuation payments deepens the existing gender income gap, as it decreases the amount of money women can draw on in their retirement. Older women are already the fastest-growing group of homeless people in Australia. We demand national leadership to close the gendered income gap.

Mid-campaign update

4 May 2022

Earlier this year, you identified the key issues that you care about in this federal election. We drew on your input to develop our AASW Federal Election Platform 2022. Now that the three major parties have released their policies, we have summarised what, if anything, they have promised with regard to these topics. We have added our commentary on the parties’ promises.

This review is not comprehensive. There are many more issues that are important to AASW members and the social work profession which we have not covered here. These are included in our AASW Federal Election Platform 2022. In your electorate there will be other parties and independent candidates with their own policies too.

Our assessment

Our overall view is that, neither of the two major parties which will form government have outlined policies which address the full range of concerns identified by AASW members. Regardless of who forms government, they will need to develop more detailed policies and service responses. Much more will need to be done if our vision of Wellbeing and Social Justice for All is to be achieved.

The AASW will continue to advocate directly to the major parties for improvements to their platforms during the campaign. Regardless of who forms government, we will continue to approach all members of parliament raising our concerns and promoting our solutions to the issues facing our communities.

Call to action and resources

We invite you to increase your own advocacy activities on the issues that matter the most to you in these final weeks of the campaign. Together we can write, call and talk to our local candidates. We can sign onto campaigns. We can raise the profile of these important issues through social media. Where possible, we have provided resources to assist you.

We are providing fact sheets on the key topics, with more to come. Please email social.policy@aasw.asn.au with any queries.

Here are fact sheets on the key topics:

Mental health

Housing

Income support

Join the conversation, provide us feedback, tell us your experiences of the election in our Members Hub.

Registration scheme for the social work profession

ALP: No position on social worker registration.

GREENS: No position on social worker registration.

LNP: No position on social worker registration.

AASW ACTION: Members will be aware of our actions to achieve this so far. Since the election has been called, the AASW has written to leaders of both major political parties, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese advocating for a regulatory scheme for the social work profession. We are waiting for their replies. We have also met with The Greens’ Senator, Janet Rice, MP to advocate for social worker registration. Senator Rice was the chair of the recent inquiry into the regulation of health workers, to which we submitted, and CEO, Cindy Smith presented. Their report recommended regulation of social work.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Raise this issue with all candidates in your electorate.

Here is our member action campaign, including a form letter.

Income support

ALP: Have ruled out an increase in the rate of Jobseeker; have promised a Royal Commission into the Centrelink Automated Debt scheme.

GREENS: Have promised a liveable income guarantee, an increase in the rate of JobSeeker and an end to punitive compliance measures.

LNP: The recent federal budget maintained the current levels of payments and maintained all aspects of the compliance regime.

AASW COMMENT: We have been active members of the campaign to raise the rate of jobseeker since its inception, and lobbied parliamentarians directly as part of that campaign. Our election platform describes our vision of an income support scheme which enables everyone to live a healthy, dignified life, and describes several policy reforms to bring this about. The policy of the Greens most closely reflects our vision.

AASW ACTION: As part of our membership of ACOSS we have sent a letter sent to all parties and candidates to demand a lift income support payments.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Join the Raise The Rate for Good and call your Federal Member of Parliament. You can utilise our National Policy Platform Income Support Excerpt to support your advocacy.

Income support

Housing

ALP: $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund which will build 30,000 new social and affordable housing properties in its first five years.

GREENS: Policies to build 100,000 new homes for various vulnerable groups.

LNP: The federal budget contained a scheme to assist first home buyers with a smaller home loan deposit, but there is no mention of ‘social housing’ or ‘homelessness’ in 2022 campaign documents released so far.

AASW COMMENT: There were 116,000 people experiencing homelessness in the 2016 Census. As a multi-faceted problem, the crisis in housing needs a comprehensive and nuanced approach. The AASW has long supported the 5-prong strategy of the Everybody’s Home campaign, which includes formulating a national strategy. None of the parties have a sufficiently comprehensive proposal to address this situation.

AASW ACTION: As part of our membership of ACOSS we sent a letter to all parties and candidates to invest in 25,000 social housing units each year.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Join the Everybody’s Home campaign, and talk to your local candidates and join the conversation online. You can utilise our National Policy Platform Housing Excerpt to support your advocacy.

Housing

Mental health: Investment in services

ALP: Has announced they will invest $31.3 million to restore a 50 per cent regional loading to telehealth psychiatric consultations

GREENS: Invest $4.8 billion to ensure mental healthcare is fully covered under Medicare by providing unlimited sessions with a psychologist or psychiatrist with no out of pocket fees so everyone can get the support they need, when they need it, at every stage of their mental health journey; will address the social determinants of health like economic and social security.

LNP: No new announcement since the 2022-23 budget. You can find their relevant budget announcement here.

AASW COMMENT: None of the major parties have policies that approach our vision of a person centred, community based, accessible and culturally safe mental health system, which acknowledges health as a human right and addresses inequity in access to the conditions necessary for health.

AASW ACTION: The AASW has met with decision makers in Canberra regarding this and sent copies of our Election Policy Platform to multiple decision makers and key mental health stakeholders such as Mental Health Australia. We are also following up with the Greens to ensure that their policy proposal includes social work services.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: You can utilise our National Policy Platform Mental Health Excerpt to support your advocacy in directly lobbying your local member or other politicians. The Mental Health Australia Website has a series of policy briefings outlining the mental health implications of key election issues, to assist with your conversations with candidates.

Mental health

Mental health: Investment in the workforce

ALP: no announcements.

GREENS: Increase the number of peer workers by 1,000 workers, so those with lived experience can provide invaluable support to those going through recovery; have promised to advocate for the development of specialised, ongoing mental health training for medical students and GPs.

LNP: No new announcement since the 2022-23 budget. You can find their relevant budget announcement here.

AASW COMMENT: The bulk of investment proposed by LNP is used to increase the number of eligible psychologists and psychiatrists in Australia, and we are disappointed that no major parties have a policy that includes the social work workforce in mental health. None of the parties have made a commitment to ensure that Social Workers are paid the same amount as other professions for delivering identical services under Medicare.

AASW ACTION: The AASW is an active member of Mental Health Australia, and has participated in multiple working groups concerning the mental health workforce. Building on that work, we have held private discussions with government decision makers, about the need to incorporate social workers and our person-in environment approach into all proposed initiatives, such as Social Prescribing

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Bring this to the attention of all candidates in your electorate. You can utilise our National Policy Platform Mental Health Excerpt to support your advocacy in directly lobbying your local member or other politicians.

Mental health

Reconciliation and Voice to Parliament

ALP: Implement the Uluru Statement in full – Voice, Treaty and Truth by holding a referendum to constitutionally enshrine a Voice to Parliament in the Constitution; establish a Makarrata Commission to work with the Voice to Parliament on a national process for Treaty and Truth-telling.

GREENS: A national, independent Truth and Justice Commission, with the powers of a Royal Commission, which will lay the foundations to engage and involve the community in discussing, raising awareness and developing the Treaty or Treaties.

LNP: Legislate ‘Voice’ bodies, starting with 35 local and regional ones across the country, and it put aside $31.8m in the budget next financial year for their creation.

AASW COMMENT: the AASW has supported the recommendations in the Uluru Statement From The Heart since it was published in 2017 and which the ALP has adopted as its policy.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Learn more about the Uluru Statement and take action this election. We recommend putting your support behind Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and campaigns and utilising their resources for this advocacy.

Climate action

ALP: No new action on reduction of carbon emissions has been announced, but have committed to a National Strategy on Climate Change and Health. The electrical grid will be 82% renewable energy and will reduce emissions by 43% by 2030, and to net-zero by 2050. Has a national strategy on climate health and wellbeing.

GREEN: Will reduce Australia’s emissions by 75% by 2030, and net-zero by 2035. Have endorsed the “Healthy, Regenerative, and Just” framework published by the Climate and Health Alliance.

LNP: No new action announced since November last year when they committed to reduce emissions by 26-28% by 2030 and to reach net-zero by 2050. Have no creditable plan to achieve this.

AASW COMMENT: Only the greens have endorsed the Climate and Health Alliance’s ‘Healthy, Regenerative and Just Framework’, to which the AASW is a signatory.

AASW ACTION The AASW is a signatory of the “Healthy, Regenerative, and Just” framework published by the Climate and Health Alliance. We have repeatedly pointed out that this the climate emergency is a social justice issue because the burden of climate change is not distributed equally. None of the 3 major parties have included a plan to reduce the burden of climate change on marginalised groups.

We have also signed on to the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) Healthy Climate Prescription Letter, with over 600 other organisations representing more than 46 million people.

WHAT YOU CAN DO Visit the Climate and Health Alliance website and the ACOSS website to keep up to date and take action. You can also use the resources developed by GCHA as an individual or on behalf of your organisation to take action and send letters to decision makers. Resources can be found here.

Increase JobSeeker, address homelessness

27 April 2022

The AASW is disappointed that neither major party is committing to increasing the JobSeeker payment. Currently, the rate is below the poverty line, sitting at $642.70 per fortnight, which is approximately $46 a day. This comes amidst the rising cost of living, which sees rental prices and groceries increasing. The current JobSeeker payment makes it unobtainable for people to afford their day-to-day expenses, such as for rent, bills, medicine, food and school supplies. This constant financial stress leads to negative impacts to mental and physical health and in turn reduces the prospects of gaining suitable employment. AASW supports the Raise the Rate for Good campaign to increase the base rate of Job Seeker to $70 per day. https://raisetherate.org.au/

During this election campaign, AASW calls on both major parties to support lifting Jobseeker and promote affordable housing. The single Jobseeker rate is $46 a day and that is impossible to live on. #RaisetheRate for Good to $70 per day. We join with the sector and are a signatory to ACOSS's letter.

https://www.acoss.org.au/joint-letter-to-candidates-at-this-federal-election/

Disability and the NDIS

26 April 2022

The AASW welcomes any reforms to the NDIS that lead to earlier intervention. A lack of access to services allows NDIS participants’ health to deteriorate and results in unnecessary suffering and the need for more intensive (and expensive) service and/or treatment interventions.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-04-19/labor-ndis-review-election/100999022

We believe it is time for the Australian Government to reform public care settings where those reliant on disability care receive rights-based, person-centred, culturally safe and trauma informed support – instead of being vulnerable to abuse and exploitation in market-based care systems.

To do this, we need to create empowering care settings to ensure the human rights of vulnerable people are always upheld. This includes:

  • Stronger reporting, investigation and accountability mechanisms for sub-standard care, exploitative and fraudulent practices
  • Evaluation frameworks that incorporate lived experience and consult with service users through culturally appropriate and trauma-informed methods
  • Longer-term funding contracts into programs and supports.

Climate, health and social justice

26 April 2022

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) has called for “real and immediate action” on climate change, with several policy suggestions relating to social justice including the adaptation of existing housing stock for low-income people and renters to better control temperature and reduce energy costs. AASW also wants to see a climate change and equality policy statement created that will see the climate crisis burden distributed equally.

https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2022/04/election-2022-what-the-sector-wants/

22 April 2022

Today is Earth Day. The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), of which AASW is a member, has just released a political advocacy scorecard to show where the major parties stand on climate issues and health issues. The scorecard analyses 17 interrelated dimensions of climate and health. See where the parties stand:

https://www.caha.org.au/scorecard

As a key social justice issue, we need real and immediate action against the climate emergency. Although the climate affects everyone, the burden of climate change is not distributed equally, and people who are living with social vulnerabilities and marginalisation are often more likely to experience the harm caused by climate change.

“Climate change is the greatest existential challenge that we have and as the latest IPCC report clearly states we need immediate action from governments in Australia, and across the world. The changes confronting our environment because of global warming are already profound and extensive, making climate policy an urgent responsibility for governments. Australia is failing to meet almost every Sustainable Development Goal and failing in its global responsibilities.

“Social workers see firsthand the devastating impacts of increased extreme weather events and I see a social work profession that moves from responding to preventing climate change through policy and political action.”
- Dr Sebastian Cordoba, AASW National Advisory Panel member.

In our National Policy Platform, we advocate for the protection of the natural environment as inherent to health and social wellbeing. We believe this can be advanced by:

  1. Implementing the recommendations of the Climate and Health Alliance’s Healthy, Regenerative and Just Framework.
  2. Redirecting current fossil fuel subsidies and investment into initiatives which reduce health impacts and risks caused by the climate emergency.
  3. Developing a climate change and equality policy statement which ensures that the burden caused by the climate emergency is distributed equally.
  4. Adapting existing housing stock for renters and low-income people to control temperature, reduce energy costs and create employment.

LGBTIQA+ rights

21 April 2022

Platform Two of our recently launched National Policy Platform is Respect for Persons. We hold that every human being has a unique and inherent equal worth and that each person has a right to wellbeing, self-fulfilment and self-determination to an extent that is consistent with the rights of others, and opportunities to contribute to their community and society.

Recent debates show that we still have a way to go to full LGBTIQA+ acceptance. The AASW will stand up to anything that we can see harms this community. We call on all political parties and candidates to reject anything that undermines the ability of people to be their true selves free from discrimination.

✍️ Sign the petition: https://equalityaustralia.org.au/open-letter/

Cashless Debit Card

21 April 2022

Last night saw the first leaders' debate in Brisbane. One of the topics mentioned was the Cashless Debit Card.

The AASW welcomes the proposal to abolish cashless debit cards, which will see the end of a punitive policy that has no evidence in helping individuals to manage their finances. Our policy platform has called for this policy to be completely ceased to prevent further damage inflicted on vulnerable Australians, in particular, First Nations peoples. Instead of quarantining individual incomes, the next government should consider increasing the rate of income support payment to lift people out of poverty.

Read more:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/apr/19/cashless-welfare-labor-vows-to-end-compulsory-use-of-basics-card

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers