Showing posts with label access & equity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label access & equity. Show all posts

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

AUSTRALIA 2018: Turnbull Government continues to hammer the vulnerable


Remember when reading this that the Turnbull Government is still intending to proceed with its planned further corporate tax cuts reportedly worth an est. $65 billion. Compare this policy with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding in Budget 2018-19 which is $43 billion over four years and no dedicated NDIS funding stream established as had been previously promised.

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations & Summer Foundation, media release, 14 May 2018:

JOINT STATEMENT ON THE NDIA’S SPECIALIST DISABILITY ACCOMMODATION PROVIDER AND INVESTOR BRIEF

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) presented its latest policy position for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) in a statement to the provider and investor market on 24 April.

People with disabilities and developers of innovative housing for people with disabilities are pleased the NDIA has reiterated the government’s commitment to SDA in its SDA Provider and Investor Brief. The NDIA has confirmed that the SDA funding model is here to stay.

However, the NDIA’s SDA Brief expresses a vision for SDA housing with a clear bias toward shared models of housing for people with disability, presumably to reduce support costs. This is unacceptable. You can read our joint statement here (A Rich text format is available here).

You can read the Summer Foundation’s summary of the SDA Brief here.

The Australian, 16 May 2018:

The executives of the flagship ­National Disability Insurance Scheme, which received guaranteed funding worth tens of billions of dollars in last week’s budget, have launched a crackdown on support funding to keep a lid on ballooning costs.

The razor is being taken to hundreds, possibly thousands, of ­annual support plans as they come up for review, demonstrating a new hawkish approach from ­National Disability Insurance Agency bosses but resulting in the loss of funding and support for vulnerable families. In many cases, support packages for families have been cut by half.

The early years of the $22 billion program’s rollout saw wild variability in the value and type of support being granted to participants, forcing executives to come up with a way to claw back funding that has “an impact on sustainability”. In the process, people with disabilities and their families have been shocked by sudden reversals of fortune….

In its quarterly report, the NDIA noted there was a “mismatch” between reference packages — rough cookie-cutter guides for how much packages ought to be in normal circumstances — and the value of annual support packages which affected the financial sustainability of the scheme.

“The management’s response to this is to closely ensure that significant variations away from reference amounts (above and below) are closely monitored and justified,” a spokesman said.

“Reference packages are not used as a tool to reduce package amounts to below what is reasonable and necessary. Individual circumstances are considered in determining budgets, including goals and aspirations.

“A reference package does not restrict the amount or range of support provided to a participant, but acts as a starting point for planners to use for similar cohorts. It provides amounts that are suitable for a given level of support needs that has been adjusted for individual circumstances.”

The agency has claimed the implementation of this process has started to reduce funding blowouts and a hearing into the scheme by federal parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS last Friday heard startling evidence about how widespread the new approach is.

Donna Law, whose 21-year-old son has severe disabilities, was told by an NDIS planner: “Donna, watch out because your son’s next plan is going to be cut by about half.”

Clare Steve had funding cut in half by the NDIA and wanted to do another review.
“I spoke to multiple people, because no one would actually give me the paperwork to do the next lot of reviewing,” Ms Steve told the hearing.

“I was told by multiple people that it was a mistake: ‘Do not go for another review.
“If you go for another review, you could get your funding cut again’.”

ABC News, 19 May 2018:

Bureaucrats are reportedly working on a strategy to curb costs by tightening up the eligibility requirements after a blowout in the number families seeking NDIS support packages for people with autism.

ABC News, 19 May 2018:

Last December, Sam's case was one of about 14,000 sitting in the NDIS's review backlog, according to a damning ombudsman's report this week. Then, about 140,000 participants were in the scheme.

The review queue has since shrunk, but the agency in charge of the world-first scheme — a Commonwealth department known as the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) — still receives about 640 review requests each week.

Some of those requests do not reflect badly on the NDIA. People can request an unscheduled review if their circumstances change, for example if their condition improves.

But the agency often is culpable when it comes to another type of review, known as an internal review. People ask for these when they disagree with the plan and funding package they are given.

Some reviews come from people who feel short-changed, given the state government support they previously received, or because of the high expectations associated with the scheme.

But the Government is also to blame. The NDIS's full-scheme launch in mid-2016 was a disaster. The computer system failed. A backlog of NDIS applications quickly emerged.

Plans were then often completed over the phone and rushed. Key staff lacked training and experience. There was little consistency in the decisions being made.

The scheme's IT system remains hopeless, and elements of its bureaucracy are not much better, according to the watchdog's report.

The agency accepted all 20 of the ombudsman's recommendations, and Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said work was underway to bust the backlog "over coming months".


* In February 2018, the NDIA advised around 8,100 reviews remained in the backlog and the national backlog team was clearing around 200 reviews each week. The NDIA also advised it continues to receive around 620 new review requests each week, which are handled by regional review staff.

* We have received complaints about the NDIA’s handling of participant-initiated requests for review. In particular, these complaints concern the NDIA: (1) not acknowledging requests for review; (2) not responding to enquiries about the status of a request; or (3) actioning requests for an internal review as requests for a plan review.

*Participants also complained they had sought updates on the receipt and/or progress of their requests by calling the Contact Centre and by telephoning or emailing local staff. They reported not receiving a response, leaving messages that were not returned and being told someone would contact them—but no one did.

* In our view, the absence of clear guidance to staff about the need to acknowledge receipt of review requests is concerning. Indeed, the large number of complaints to our Office where complainants are unclear about the status of their review indicates the lack of a standardised approach to acknowledgements is driving additional, unnecessary contact with both the NDIA and our Office.

* Our Office monitors and reports on complaint themes each quarter. Review delays was the top complaint issue for all four quarters in 2017.

* Some participants have told us they have been waiting for up to eight or nine months for a decision on their review request, without any update on its progress or explanation of the time taken.

In some instances, the participant’s existing plan has expired before the NDIA has made a decision on their request for review. As review decisions can only be made prospectively, it can mean a participant must go through the whole process for the new (routinely reviewed) plan if they remain unhappy.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Australian Minister for Communications and longstanding member of the far-right pressure group the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is up in arms because Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman tells some home truths


On Tuesday 17 April the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO) sent out the media release in this post.


It looks suspiciously like the Minister is now approaching a scheduled review of telecommunications consumer protections and the complaints process with a view to quash an inconvenient truth –  that transfers to the version of the National Broadband Network (NBN) cobbled together by Tony Abbott and MalcolmTurnbull are a dismal failure for far too many Australian businesses and households.

Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO), media release, 17 April 2018:

Report highlights increase in complaints about landline, mobile and internet services

Australian residential consumers and small businesses made 84,914 complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman in the last six months of 2017 (1 July 2017 to 31 December 2017). In this period, complaints about landline, mobile and internet services, increased by 28.7 per cent compared to the same six month period in 2016.

Publishing the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s Six Monthly Update today (Tuesday 17 April, 2018), Ombudsman Judi Jones said “The telecommunications industry in Australia continues to experience significant change. An increasing range of products and services are being offered to consumers, expectations for the quality of phone and internet services are high, and the rollout of the National Broadband Network is changing the way we use telecommunications services.

“However, consumers still seem to be facing the same problems, particularly with their bills and the customer service they receive. Confidence in services being updated or transferred reliably, faulty equipment, and poor service quality were also recorded as key issues. Additionally, the wider issues relating to phone or internet problems such as debt management are concerning.”

Jones added, “Complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network continued to increase compared to the same six month period in 2016. This indicates the consumer experience is still not meeting expectations for all. Recent changes to regulation and an increase in our powers to resolve complaints are positive steps that will help improve the consumer experience.”

Highlights for the period 1 July 2017 to 31 December 2017 include:

* 84,914 total complaints were received
* 74,729 complaints (88 per cent) were from residential consumers
* 9,947 complaints (11.7 per cent) were from small businesses

Landline, mobile, internet, multiple services and property

Complaints for the period increased 28.7 per cent compared to the same six month period in 2016.

* 9,447 complaints (11.1 per cent) were recorded about landline phone services
* 24,923 complaints (29.4 per cent) were recorded about mobile phone services
* 23,785 complaints (28 per cent) were recorded about internet services
* 26,112 complaints (30.8 per cent) were recorded about multiple services*
* 647 complaints (0.8 per cent) were recorded about property*

* Charges and fees, unsatisfactory response from the provider (provider response), and poor service quality were the most common issues.

Small Businesses

Between 1 July and 31 December 2017 complaints from small businesses increased 15.6 per cent to 9,947 compared to the same period in 2016.

* Complaints from Small Businesses accounted for 11.7 per cent of total complaints for the period

* 2,178 complaints (21.9 per cent) were recorded about landline phone services
* 2,074 complaints (20.9 per cent) were recorded about mobile phone services
* 1,716 complaints (17.3 per cent) were recorded about internet services
* 3,937 complaints (39.6 per cent) were recorded about multiple services*
* 42 complaints (0.4 per cent) were recorded about property
*       The main issues affecting small businesses were charges and fees, unsatisfactory response from the provider (provider response), and no service.

Complaints by State

All states and territories in Australia saw a growth in complaints in the last six months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

Queensland recorded the highest growth in complaints, an increase of 39.3 per cent, followed by Western Australia with 36.5 per cent.

Complaints by state (in alphabetical order) are as follows:

* Australian Capital Territory made 1,184 complaints, an increase of 11 per cent
* New South Wales made 26,914 complaints, an increase of 27.9 per cent
* Northern Territory made 504 complaints, an increase of 20 per cent
* Queensland made 16,418 complaints, an increase of 39.3 per cent
* South Australia made 6,552 complaints, an increase of 22.7 per cent
* Tasmania made 1,614 complaints, an increase of 33.1 per cent
* Victoria made 23,954 complaints, an increase of 30.5 per cent
* Western Australia made 7,381 complaints, an increase of 36.5 per cent

* The main issues affecting Australian states and territories were charges and fees, unsatisfactory response from the provider (provider response), and poor service quality

Services delivered over the National Broadband Network

Complaints about services delivered over the National Broadband Network increased 203.9 per cent to 22,827 on the same period in 2016.

* 14,055 complaints were recorded about service quality
* 8,757 complaints were recorded about delays in establishing a connection
*       The main issues affecting residential consumers and small businesses were unsatisfactory response from the provider (provider response), poor service quality, and connecting a service (connection/changing provider)

NOTES TO EDITORS

*From 1 July 2017, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman changed the recording of complaints. There are now five complaint service categories: landline phone services, mobile phone services, internet services, multiple services (where the consumer is complaining about more than one phone or internet issue), or a complaint about damage or access to property. The changes mean data will more accurately reflect the description of complaints given by residential consumers and small businesses.  The changes also make it easier to see the issues facing the telecommunication industry, helping providers improve the delivery of phone and internet services. Trend analysis will build over time from the start of this reporting period.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

More reports showing that 'trickle up' economics is at work in Australia


Here is just a little of what Liberal & National party members - and their governments - refuse to understand as they support a far-right economic platform which is built on a reduction in corporate tax rates, high business profits and large management salaries in conjunction with employee wage supression, erosion of workers' rights, an increase in employment insecurity based on casual, part-time and/or employees as sham contractors and, further restrictions on eligibility for a number of basic welfare payments.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 2018:

Last year, as the government prepared another round of welfare crackdowns, Minister Michaelia Cash said she expects “that those who can work should work and our welfare system should be there as a genuine safety net, not as something that people can choose to fund their lifestyle.”

The subtext was clear – those who need help are a drain on the rest of us.
This rhetoric is familiar, but it is wrong. It is the wealthiest Australians who enjoy the most support.

Research commissioned by Anglicare Australia shows that each year, a staggering $68 billion is spent keeping the wealthiest households wealthy. That is greater than the cost of Newstart, disability support, the age pension, or any other single welfare group.

The Cost of Privilege report, prepared by Per Capita, models four household types to show how these concessions and tax breaks work. One of the couples we modelled, Tim and Michelle, own their own home. They have two children in private schools, top health insurance, and two investment properties. Michelle doesn’t work, and Tim runs a small business. Each year, Tim and Michelle get $99,708 in concessions from the taxpayer, or $1917 per week. That is well over twice as much as a couple with two children on Newstart, and nearly three times as much as a family with one parent on the Disability Support Pension. Tim and Michelle do this by getting concessions on their superannuation, negatively gearing their investment properties to minimise their taxable income, and getting tax breaks for private schools and private health insurance. They also get generous Capital Gains Tax exemptions.

Each year, thousands of Australia's wealthiest households profit from these loopholes and subsidies. Our report finds that tax exemptions on private healthcare and education for the wealthiest 20 per cent cost more than $3 billion a year. 

Superannuation concessions to them cost over $20 billion a year, and their Capital Gains Tax exemptions cost an astonishing $40 billion a year. Compare that to the annual cost of Newstart, which comes in at just under $11 billion a year.

Importantly, nothing that Tim and Michelle are doing is wrong or illegal. This is not a broken system. It is a system working exactly the way it was designed to work, supporting the wealthiest at the expense of the rest of us.

These numbers tell us that something has gone badly wrong. The eighties were the decade of trickle-down economics, where taxes were cut for the richest with the promise that everyone else would soon feel the benefits. But now it’s worse – we’re in an era of trickle-up economics where subsidies, tax breaks and concessions for the richest are paid for by everyone else.....

Anglicare Australia, 26 March 2018:

Cost of Privilege - households (.pdf)

ABC News, 15 April 2018:

One in every five Australian children has gone hungry in the past 12 months according to a new report, with some even resorting to chewing paper to try to feel full.

The survey of 1,000 parents commissioned by Foodbank shows 22 per cent of Australian children under the age of 15 live in a household that has ran out of food at some stage over the past year.

One in five kids affected go to school without eating breakfast at least once a week, while one in 10 go a whole day at least once a week without eating anything at all.
"I think that's a very sad indictment on us as a society," said Foodbank Victoria chief executive Dave McNamara…..

"Some kids were eating paper. Their parents had told them 'There's not enough food, if you get hungry you'll need to chew paper.'"

"This isn't made up. This is a story we heard setting up one of our school breakfast programs down in Lakes Entrance, which is a beautiful part of the country."

"No-one's spared. It's not people on the street; it's people in your street. It's in every community across Australia."

Foodbank Victoria graphic below based on its Rumbling Tummies Report, April 2018:


Thursday, 8 March 2018

International Women's Day, 8 March 2018


A voice I am listening to on International Women's Day 2018.....

IndigenousX, 7 March 2018:

“Racism is one that all women in the women’s movement must start to come to terms with. There is no doubt in my mind that racism is expressed by women in the movement. Its roots are many and they go deep.” – Pat O’Shane

Those words were written by former magistrate, First Nations woman Pat O’Shane more than two decades ago and yet still represent an uncomfortable truth for mainstream feminism. Similar criticisms have also been made by First Nations women like Jackie Huggins, Judy Atkinson and Aileen Morton-Robinson and are revived and re-spoken by younger feminists like Larissa Behrendt, Celeste Liddle, Nayuka Gorrie and many more who continue the fight to hold mainstream feminism to account.

The roots of racism within mainstream feminism are still there, under the soil. But that’s not to say there haven’t been changes in the mainstream feminist movement. Rather than outright denial on racism and how race impacts gender, an even more damaging phenomenon has taken hold: co-option.

Intersectionality, grounded in critical race theory, is now used by many white feminists but has been watered down to a buzzword: a superficial display of “inclusiveness” whereby it is used to deflect rather than interrogate the way race impacts the lived experience of gender, class, gender identity, sexual orientation and disability.  An example of this, is the way Aboriginal women are consigned to a footnote with no context in articles about domestic violence, aligning the staggering statistics with the continuing colonial portrayal of the Aboriginal ‘other’ as inherently violent.

Much like International Women’s Day, which has become a day for corporates and fancy breakfasts that few women outside of the upper and middle classes can attend – the term has been re-purposed to fit into a limited type of white feminist thought.
Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time being angry at the failings of white liberal feminism, largely because it is the type of feminism that finds the loudest voice in mainstream media. Because it has this voice it has become synonymous with ‘feminism’, despite the movement itself being a broad church. I even questioned whether to continue calling myself a feminist.

I have realised that as an Aboriginal feminist, I don’t have to continue reacting to these failures. There is already a foundation built by brilliant black women which allows us to continue developing an Aboriginal feminism. And the reason this is so important is because the unique experiences of Aboriginal people, the way racism impacts our lived experiences as women, brotherboys, sistergirls and non-binary peoples, is a matter of life and death.

While the national conversation around domestic violence and sexual assault is undoubtedly important, often Aboriginal voices are bypassed altogether. An example of this was the recent Our Watch media awards, where a white male journalist was given an accolade for reporting on “the violence no one talks about”. Aboriginal women have been talking about violence for decades – the ‘silence’ is not the issue. It is that no one listens unless it is spoken in a way that bypasses the role of white Australia, and places blame right back onto Aboriginal people themselves. 

That is why arguments about Aboriginal culture being inherently violent are so appealing. There may have been instances of violence in pre-colonial Aboriginal society –   but from my perspective, if Aboriginal people were participating in the level of violence we see now in many communities, we would not have survived for tens of thousands of years, and we would not have developed a sophisticated system of land management, astronomy and science that intertwined with our spirituality.

But the cultural arguments around Aboriginal violence find an audience in a white Australia that denies its continuing role in the current circumstances affecting our people. And white feminists can often be complicit in the perpetuation of the myth, particularly when it comes to ‘saving black women and children’ from the hands of Aboriginal men. The fact is, Aboriginal communities are not inhuman – we care deeply about violence and the impact on our people, particularly our children. But the conversation has become dangerous due to the centring of white outrage and the appetite for black pathology which borders on pornographic.

Meanwhile, Aboriginal women are painted as depraved for this perceived silence. Like the colonial images that rendered Aboriginal women as uncaring ‘infanticidal cannibals’ who did not love their children, we are again caricatured as powerless and unconcerned about our children. This is the real silence: the silencing of the strong Aboriginal women all across the country who have worked day in and day out on this problem in the face of continual slander. …..

Full article can be read here.

Australian workplaces still hostile territory for women



“When asked about a range of job attributes, women placed most value on having a job where they would be treated with respect (80%), where their job was secure (80%), where the job paid well (65%), was interesting (64%) and offered the flexibility they might need (62%). The majority of women viewed their job as being useful to society (69%) and felt that their job allowed them to ‘help others’ (73%). Two in five working women (43%) said they felt stressed at work, with it more likely being an issue for younger women, those still in education, and those in lower paid or casual roles. One in five women (20%) said they felt isolated at work, particularly those self-employed and working at home. Two-thirds of women said they received paid sick (67%) and annual leave (65%). Fewer received paid parental leave (42%) and paid carers leave (43%), and one in five women were unaware whether or not they received these entitlements at work.” 


University of Sydney, News and Opinion, Significant gaps between working women's career goals and reality, 6 March 2018:

First study to examine women and future of work

Australian workplaces are not ready to meet young women's career aspirations or support their future success, according to a new national report by University of Sydney researchers.

“We are talking more about robots than we are about women in the future of work debate – this must change,” said co-author of the report, Professor Rae Cooper.
Launched today, the Women and the Future of Work report reveals the gaps and traps between young working women’s aspirations and their current working realities.

“There are significant gaps in job security, respect, access to flexibility and training,” said Dr Elizabeth Hill, co-author of the report.

“Government, businesses and industry need to step up and take action so that our highly educated and highly skilled young women are central to the future of work.”

The team of researchers from the University of Sydney’s Women, Work & Leadership Research Group, surveyed more than 2000 working women aged 16 to 40, who were representative of the workforce nationally.

The report is the first of its kind and found that young women were generally not concerned about job loss as a result of automation and economic change.

“Almost two-thirds of the women we surveyed said they didn’t fear robots coming for their jobs in the future,” Professor Cooper said.

“Our national debate about the future of work is too often a hyper-masculinised, metallic version of work.

“For young women, their picture of the future workforce is quite different: they see themselves balancing family and work commitments, and having long, meaningful careers. For this to be a reality, we need mutually beneficial flexibility in all workplaces.”

Respect and access to flexibility critical for women

The survey found being treated with respect and having job security were critical to ensuring young women’s future careers.

Despite 90 percent of women identifying access to flexibility as important, only 16 percent strongly agreed that they have access to the flexibility they need.

“Young women workers are generally optimistic about work and ready to contribute,” Dr Hill said. “But they find themselves caught in gaps between what they need and what the workforce offers.”

The majority of working women report that developing the right skills and qualifications is important for success at work (92 percent). However, only 40 percent said they can access affordable training to equip them for better jobs.

“Public policy settings, while improving, remain inadequate,” Dr Hill said. “Projected growth in feminised, low-paid jobs in health care and social assistance suggests an urgent need for government action to ensure these jobs meet the criteria of decent work.

“Current trends toward fragmentation and the contracting out of employment are undermining many of the criteria of decent work, making this a pressing policy issue for gender equality in the future of work,” Dr Hill said.

More women than robots in future workplaces

The survey also indicated young women often feel ‘disrespected’ by senior colleagues and supervisors because of their gender. This was the case both for highly paid professionals and lowpaid workers.

Ten percent of respondents said they were experiencing sexual harassment in their current workplace. Some groups of women reported higher rates of harassment including:

* women currently studying (14 percent compared to 8 percent who are not studying)
* women living with a disability (18 percent compared to 9 percent not living with a disability)
* women born in Asia or culturally and linguistically diverse women (16 percent compared to 8 percent who are not culturally or linguistically diverse).

“Employers need to commit and act to create workplaces where women are respected and valued for their expertise,” Professor Cooper said.

“There will be more women than robots in the future of work. It’s time that households, government, businesses and employers listen to them.”

Dr Hill said: “We are urgently calling on the government to facilitate and implement a public policy framework that supports young women’s career aspirations.

“We need to work towards a future where women are valued in the workplace and for their work.”

The study was funded by the University of Sydney’s Sydney Research Excellence Initiative 2020. It was authored by the Co-Directors of the University’s Women, Work & Leadership Research Group, Professor Marian Baird and Professor Rae Cooper, with Dr Elizabeth Hill, Professor Ariadne Vromen and Professor Elspeth Probyn.

The data collection and analysis for this research focused on working 16-40 year old Australians, and was undertaken by Ipsos Australia. It was collected in September-November 2017, and includes: a nationally representative online survey of 2,100 women; a survey of 500 men; a booster survey of 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women; and five in-person focus groups of working women.

Full report can be found here.

“At the time of study, women with the following characteristics were found as being less likely to be working (noting that the first of these characteristics may be age-related):

- Those who have only completed secondary school (70% compared to 86% of those who have completed tertiary education, for example);
- Those living at home with parents (71% compared to 84% of those living in their own home);
 - Women with disability (74% compared with 82% of those without disability);
- Culturally and Linguistically Diverse women (75% in comparison to 82% of women who are not Culturally and Linguistically Diverse); and
- Low-income earners (70% of those earning below $40,000 as opposed to 88% of those earning above $80,000, for example).”  


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

This highlighted health statistic would come as no surprise to people living in rural and regional Australia


The Sydney Moring Herald, 18 January 2018:

NSW has been ranked the worst for healthcare affordability among older patients in the latest survey that pits Australia's most populous state against international health systems.

The results released on Thursday showed a larger proportion of NSW patients 65 and older struggled with their medical costs than their counterparts in Australia overall and 10 other OECD countries.

NSW fared worst when it came to the percentage of respondent who said they had problems paying their medical bills (15 per cent), compared to just 1 per cent in Sweden and 10 per cent in the US, found the survey of 24,000 people including 1175 in NSW.

More than one in five (22 per cent) reported spending $1000 or more in out-of-pocket healthcare costs, the third largest proportion after Switzerland (53 per cent) and the US (37 per cent), and well behind the top performer France (3 per cent), according to the 2017 Commonwealth Fund International Health survey findings released by the Bureau of Health Information (BHI)…..

Over 20 per cent of older people in NSW said they had skipped a dentist visit when they needed it due to the cost, tying with the US for the poorest result after Australia (23 per cent).

A total of 14 per cent of NSW respondents said they had skipped prescriptions, consultations or treatments due to cost in the previous year, the second lowest score after the US.

One in four NSW respondents said they found it "very difficult" to access medical care after hours without going to a hospital emergency department, trailing the US and seven other countries. [my yellow highlighting]