Become a member of ACTCOSS
Join ACTCOSS and you'll receive the quarterly community sector journal Update, discounts on training, and more!
My Vote For Housing: Make housing the heart of the ACT Election!
Join the campaign to make your voice heard on Canberra's housing affordability crisis.
Learning and Development Calendar
ACTCOSS provides training in cultural awareness, emerging leaders, boards, quality standards, and more!

Reconciliation Week - Win a basket of resources for your workplace!

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) (27 May - 3 June) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort.

To celebrate, ACTCOSS is running a draw for your ACT community sector workplace to win a basket of reconciliation resources worth $300. To enter, just answer a question of two about your workplace's reconciliation learnings and future goals:

Submission: Draft NDIS Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Commissioning Framework

14 April 2016

The purpose of the National Disability Insurance Agency’s Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Commissioning Framework is to translate the ILC Policy Framework into action. The Framework outlines how the Agency will fund and manage ILC activities in the future.

ILC has a vital role in delivering on the commitments made in the National Disability Strategy (NDS) agreed by COAG in 2010, particularly of its vision for “An inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens”. The outcomes specified in the NDS should underpin decisions about the role, resourcing and evaluation of the ILC component of the NDIS.

Meet the Canberra people caught in our housing crisis

Joint media release: My Vote For Housing Campaign - ACTCOSS and ACT Shelter, 9 April 2016

Twelve Canberra individuals and families have spoken out about their experience of housing stress and homelessness in a new publication which combines true stories and voter voices with electorate by electorate data to present a fresh and alarming picture of Canberra’s housing crisis.

Stories of Home are part of a campaign called My Vote For Housing which is an initiative of ACTCOSS and ACT Shelter. My Vote For Housing invites voters and candidates to make affordable housing and reducing homelessness the heart of the ACT election due on 15 October 2016.

Transport costs blowing out low income budgets

Media release, 5 April 2016

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has released its 2016 Cost of Living Report, which this year focuses on the costs of transport in Canberra. The research finds that Canberra has the second highest expenditure on transport amongst capital cities in the country. Darwin, the city with the highest transport expenditure is $233.78, with Canberra only marginally behind on $232.23. These two cities are considerably higher than the others with the average weekly figure of all capital cities being $194.44.

ACTCOSS opposes states and territories levying income tax

Media release, 31 March 2016

Ahead of this week’s COAG meeting, the ACT Chief Minister has indicated he is willing to consider a state and territory role in setting and collecting income tax. The ACT Council of Social Service opposes income tax collection by states and territories.

Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service, explained ACTCOSS' opposition: “It’s clear all governments need reliable and adequate sources of revenue to fund the services the community needs. If the Commonwealth ‘makes room’ for state income taxes this is likely to have the opposite effect: there is a risk of a ‘race to the bottom’ as states compete with one another to lower income taxes, as is the case in countries like the USA which have State income taxes.”

Canberra Day Celebrations highlight tale of two cities

Media release, 14 March 2016

As we gather to celebrate Canberra Day and to mark the naming of our city just over a century ago the ACT Council of Social Service and ACT Shelter, peak bodies advocating for affordable housing and responding better to homelessness, have issued four unique new short videos to remind us all of the reality of poverty and disadvantage that lies under the surface in our community.

The videos are part of a campaign called My Vote For Housing which is an initiative of ACTCOSS and ACT Shelter. My Vote For Housing invites voters and candidates to make affordable housing and reducing homelessness the heart of the ACT election due on 15 October 2016.

Be involved! Community Services Industry Plan

A Community Services Industry Plan is being developed to support the ACT community sector through a period of significant structural adjustment.

KPMG has been engaged by the ACT Government Community Services Directorate to develop the Industry Plan with consultations to commence in early 2016. A steering group has been formed with community sector, government, union and consumer representatives to oversee the plan’s development. ACTCOSS is supporting community sector engagement in the development of the Industry Plan.

KPMG has produced a scoping paper to support Industry Plan consultations with community service providers and other stakeholders. Community sector organisations are encouraged to read the scoping paper and to participate in consultation activities that will be run by KPMG and ACTCOSS in early 2016.

For information about the Community Services Industry Plan and how to be involved in its development, contact Geoff Buchanan at ACTCOSS on 02 6202 7222 or

Reports released: Housing Affordability, the Labour Market and Housing Demand in the ACT

In partnership with our Housing and Homelessness Policy Consortium friends at ACT Shelter, the Women’s Centre for Health Matters and the Youth Coalition of the ACT – we have released reports and snapshots on housing affordability, labour market and housing demand in the ACT.

Savings shouldn’t come from Concessions Program

Media release, 12 February 2016

Today was the final day for organisations to submit their responses to the ACT Government’s Discussion Paper: Options to improve the fairness and targeting of the ACT Concessions Program, as part of the broader review of ACT Concessions.

Director of ACTCOSS, Susan Helyar, noted the organisation’s concern with what appears to be lack of consistency in the ACT Government’s goals of ‘improving the fairness and targeting of the ACT Concessions Program’ and the options outlined in the Options Paper.

Human Services Blueprint

The ACT Community Sector has worked with the ACT Government to design and implement a new approach to community, health, justice and education services so they respond better to community expectations and needs - by being person-focused, strengths-based and focused on achieving positive outcomes. This work has led to adoption of a Human Services Blueprint by the ACT Government and a number of Better Services Initiatives were funded in the 2014-15 ACT Budget.

ACTCOSS has contributed to developing the Human Services Blueprint and implementing the Better Services Initiatives because we believe it has the potential to deliver real improvements in the design, delivery and resourcing of services so they make a positive difference to people in Canberra, especially those who are living with poverty and disadvantage, or who are facing a vulnerable time in their life. Three principles underpin this work: You can find out more about this work and ways to get involved in decisions about how the Human Services Blueprint is implemented.

Presentation available: Internet connectivity among people experiencing poverty and deprivation

During Anti-Poverty Week in 2014 ACTCOSS facilitated a conversation about the interactions between poverty, disadvantage, and digital technology, often referred to as the 'digital divide': the space between those who have access to digital technologies and those who are excluded from accessing digital technology because of inability to cover costs.

Speaker Dr Sarah Wise (University of Melbourne and Berry Street Victoria) has kindly provided her presentation from the event for download.