In days of sun­shine, shel­ter Tas­ma­ni­ans from tem­pests to come

Kym Goodes says it’s time to spread the wealth to ad­dress shame­ful dis­ad­van­tage

Mercury (Hobart) - - TALKING POINT - Kym Goodes is chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Tas­ma­nian Coun­cil of So­cial Ser­vice.

TAS­MA­NIA’S strong econ­omy is a matter of pride. It’s the foun­da­tion we des­per­ately need and pro­vides a strong base to build on. The chal­lenge is to con­struct an econ­omy in these days of eco­nomic sun­shine that is ro­bust, flex­i­ble and in­no­va­tive so as to shel­ter all Tas­ma­ni­ans from the tem­pests that will come in decades ahead. De­scrib­ing a vi­sion for Tas­ma­nia where ev­ery­one can have a good life is easy. Mak­ing it re­al­ity is more dif­fi­cult. In­vest­ment over the past five years in in­fra­struc­ture, tourism and other in­dus­tries has pro­vided pre­con­di­tions for a strong econ­omy. But there is still an un­com­fort­able re­al­ity. As the na­tional econ­omy starts to tighten, we need to coun­ter­bal­ance in­vest­ment and con­sider dif­fer­ent, more in­no­va­tive ways of work­ing in ed­u­ca­tion, health and well­be­ing — in skills, trans­port and more than just the most ba­sic of es­sen­tial ser­vices. If we don’t, the foun­da­tions will not sup­port that vi­sion. The foun­da­tions will not sup­port all Tas­ma­ni­ans, only some. Ev­ery day we hear sto­ries of the health system fail­ing — bed block, over­crowded emer­gency de­part­ments and prob­lems with cul­ture and re­la­tion­ships be­tween the bu­reau­cracy and clin­i­cians. What we don’t see on the front page are long-term out­comes of the gath­er­ing fail­ure of our health­care system — long-term out­comes like the me­dian age of death in our most dis­ad­van­taged neigh­bour­hood be­ing 66, com­pared to 84 in the most ad­van­taged neigh­bour­hood. We don’t see the hous­ing stress squeez­ing neigh­bours, friends and fam­i­lies to the verge of home­less­ness. We need to look for and in­vest in op­por­tu­ni­ties where all Tas­ma­ni­ans can pros­per. And we can only do that if gov­ern­ments at ev­ery level are flex­i­ble, open to ideas, set bold tar­gets and strict dead­lines, breach the bu­reau­cratic walls that re­main 20th cen­tury con­structs in a 21st cen­tury racing ahead at warp speed. The Tas­ma­nian Govern­ment can­not af­ford to keep do­ing things the same way. The re­view into the Tas­ma­nian State Ser­vice is key to un­lock­ing our po­ten­tial. The other key is us. Tas­ma­ni­ans see the op­por­tu­ni­ties, they know what is needed. They have ideas but have not al­ways had the right

con­di­tions to dare to as­pire. For many, our his­tory has been a les­son in pre­car­i­ous em­ploy­ment and long pe­ri­ods of eco­nomic down­turn. Now how­ever, where we have pro­to­typed mod­els that en­able com­mu­nity-led ap­proaches and in­vest­ment in what is needed to suc­ceed, we are see­ing im­proved out­comes in em­ploy­ment and train­ing. In these ex­am­ples, we are see­ing more Tas­ma­ni­ans able to ful­fil their po­ten­tial and ex­pe­ri­ence eco­nomic in­de­pen­dence.

We need the right in­vest­ment from govern­ment to open up op­por­tu­ni­ties for all Tas­ma­ni­ans to pros­per. And we need the right pol­icy set­tings and sys­tems to make that hap­pen. For Tas­ma­nia to thrive long-term, we need gov­ern­ments to clear the path, not build ob­sta­cles.

No matter what the cur­rent econ­omy looks like, we will not pros­per long-term if we don’t get this next in­vest­ment tar­get right. There are two streams to these chal­lenges that will cre­ate op­por­tu­nity and pro­vide the fo­cus for where in­vest­ment needs to be. First, for adult Tas­ma­ni­ans, our great­est chal­lenges and po­ten­tial still ex­ist in the low levels of ed­u­ca­tion, lit­er­acy and health out­comes of our pop­u­la­tion. For our chil­dren and young peo­ple, the op­por­tu­nity to be the gen­er­a­tion who no longer car­ries that ig­no­min­ious

Tas­ma­nian legacy is our most golden. Im­prov­ing out­comes for the next gen­er­a­tion so they never have to live a life of poverty like many of our fel­low Tas­ma­ni­ans is a legacy about which to be proud. And it is doable. But not with­out in­vest­ment in our chil­dren, young peo­ple, their par­ents and grand­par­ents.

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