New Parliament’s set priorities and agendas

Last week marked the formal opening and first sitting week of the 47th Parliament following the May 2022 General Election.  There are many new faces that makeup this new Parliament with 35 newly elected Members of Parliament (out of a total of 151) and 11 new Senators (out of the 40 Senate seats that were up for election this year). Peak and advocacy groups are vying for meetings with the MPs and Senators (ourselves included) keen to brief both new and seasoned parliamentarians.  And of course, the change of Government leadership with the ALP now in charge means that there are Ministerial and staffing changes aplenty.

It is, as I have noted previously, abundantly clear that the ALP has come into power with clearly set priorities and agendas.  These continue to be the focus of the ALP’s work.  The Parliamentary Budget Office produces a report on all election commitments after each election and is well worth a read with the policies underpinning ALP’s commitments available on the Party’s website.

It has been heartening to see the new Federal Government take decisive action on its election commitments – not least the commitment to “implement the Uluru Statement in full – Voice, Treaty and Truth”. Prime Minister Albanese’s powerful speech at the Garma festival last week spoke clearly to the Government’s intention to hold a referendum to constitutionally enshrine a Voice to Parliament.

Along with the commitment to bring a Voice to Parliament, Labor has also committed to ensuring sustained progress on the current National Agreement on Closing the Gap. What helping to truly close the gap looks like for the family and relationship services sector is a work in progress and we too are engaging in some significant conversations to understand what our role in this process can and will be.

Thursday 4 August is National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day – ‘My Dreaming, My Future’. This Children’s Day, children are being asked what Dreaming means to them, and what their aspirations are for the future. In the words of the Children’s Day organisers:

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are born into stories of their family, culture, and Country. They carry with them the songlines of their ancestors and culture, passed down by generations. Their Dreaming is part of our history, while their futures are their own to shape.”  

This week is National Homelessness week, which aims to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness on Australia via national and local community events. Homelessness and housing insecurity has been exacerbated by flooding and bushfires over the past few years, as well as the rapid rise in house prices. There simply isn’t a sufficient affordable housing supply and housing insecurity is a major stressor on families – including seeing more and more separated couples having to live under the same roof.  Whilst it is good to see the issues of housing/homelessness addressed in the National Plan for Reducing Violence against Women and Children, there is only fleeting reference to the risk that insecure housing presents for children and young people in the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s children – ‘Safe and Supported’.

In an opinion piece published today, Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Julie Collins, reminded readers that at the centre of the new Albanese Government’s housing reform agenda is a commitment to introduce a National Housing and Homelessness Plan. I certainly hope that the connections between safe, secure housing and ‘safe and supported children’ is explicitly captured in this new plan.

Read the full eBulletin