Listening leads to solutions
Anglicare’s research and advocacy makes an important contribution to social justice in our State.
Set up in the 1990s, our Social Action and Research Centre (SARC) explores the impacts of poverty and disadvantage and points to solutions.
Jo Flanagan managed SARC between 2000 and 2015. Interviewed in the video above to mark Anglicare’s 40 years of service, she said the research and advocacy has always been centred on the lived experience of Tasmanians.
“Our role was not to help them find their voice or amplify their voice – they had a voice – but they just had no mechanism for getting their voice out,” she said. “SARC became a megaphone for people in the Tasmanian community.”
SARC has always freely shared what it learns with others, especially government. In the early days the response to its work was mixed, but SARC quickly established its credibility.
“They couldn’t walk away from what we were saying because the research that we were producing was really strongly grounded in the experiences of the workers who were working in the field in Tasmania,” said Jo. “So we were – and I think SARC still is – the only research institution in Tasmania that sits outside the university and is deeply embedded in a coal-face, not for profit organisation.”
Freedom Ride a turning point
A key event was the Freedom Ride in 1999, which saw researchers go out into communities to hear from local people about what most mattered to them.
“We had people coming to the consultations to talk about what the issues were in their communities and what they’d like to see done about it,” said Jo.
Based on those meetings, SARC produced the Hearing the Voices report which set the direction of its work for years to come. It also led to the establishment of the No Interest Loans Scheme, giving low income Tasmanians the opportunity to access safe, affordable loans.
Today, SARC continues to advocate for positive change. In recent years, it has released research and made recommendations to improve the lives of:
- older people who live with challenges related to hoarding and/or maintaining a healthy home
- unaccompanied children who are homeless
- young people experiencing abuse in their relationships
- people with disability who need reliable access to public transport
- people on low incomes at risk from using Buy Now Pay Later products
- individuals, families and communities affected by gambling harm in Tasmania
- people unable to find an affordable, appropriate private rental property
- people criminalised and marginalised due to their personal use of illicit drugs.
Opportunities for impact
SARC Coordinator Mary Bennett says the team focuses on social issues where there are clear opportunities to make a significant impact for Tasmanians.
SARC will release three new reports by the end of the year. They focus on gambling harm, the experiences of people struggling to make ends meet on a low income, and older Tasmanians whose housing is insecure.
Older Tasmanians are invited to participate in the Right to Belong project that explores the importance of stable and appropriate housing for older people. Find out more detail here.
Image: Taken from the Right to Belong research project.