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Report cover

State of the sector 2022

Floods, COVID-19, cost of living pressures and the housing crisis: supporting Queensland's communities through a year of immense challenges
Cost and standard of living Public health Social issues Homelessness Youth Not for profit sector Community-based social services Social services Queensland
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State of the sector 2022 2.35 MB

The purpose of QCOSS’ annual State of the sector report is to highlight emerging ideas, issues, and challenges identified by the social services sector in Queensland, based on recent feedback and engagement. Qualitative and quantitative data for this report was obtained from a series of community sector engagement workshops led by QCOSS, and the 2022 Australian Community Sector Survey. The ACSS was conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW Sydney, as part of a partnership between the Australian Council of Social Service, the COSS network, and Bendigo Bank. ACOSS have commissioned reports in connection with the ACSS data from the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW Sydney. Those reports provide in-depth analysis on the ACSS in the national context, and will be available online as they are released progressively. QCOSS staff also conducted interviews with Queensland social service organisations, featured as case studies throughout this report.

The State of the sector 2022 report paints a complex picture. The deepening cost of living and housing crises have had an undeniable impact. From the end of 2021 through to December 2022, there were roughly 1.7 million reported COVID-19 cases in Queensland. Major flood events caused vast amounts of damage and destruction, which further compounded the worsening cost of living and housing pressures for many. Queensland’s communities struggled under the cumulative weight of these challenges, and community sector workers have reported a shift and expansion in the demographics of those in need. People with reliable incomes found it difficult to make ends meet and, in some circumstances, maintain housing. People already struggling with housing and cost of living pressures navigated increasingly complex personal and financial situations. In light of these challenges, demand for services and complexity of need increased, while funding challenges remained.

Community service providers had difficulty attracting and retaining employees and reported high levels of staff burnout. Many had to maintain service delivery while experiencing and recovering from natural disasters, and staff absenteeism due to COVID-19. Workers assisted clients affected by floods, even while their own homes were at risk. They supported clients vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19, while managing their own exposure to the virus. They helped members of the community navigate the housing and cost of living crises while, at times, feeling the pressure of inflation, mortgage stress, low rental vacancy, and energy prices, themselves. Difficult times, however, also brought communities closer together. We consistently heard that where services and members of the community joined together to provide support, the outcomes were powerful and effective.

This report explores recent significant government investment into communities and the sector, along with data gathered on issues impacting service users, sector demand, service delivery, the workforce, and disaster resilience and the role of the community sector. This report also asks - where to from here? In response to immense challenges, many in the sector emphasised the importance of collaboration, harnessing best practice and innovation, strategic advocacy and research, and sector capacity building. Throughout this report are real-life examples demonstrating how organisations in the sector are working together to help communities thrive.

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