ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Can you spare 10 minutes this week to talk about poverty with your friends and family?

This year’s anti-poverty week focuses on child poverty. Did you realise child poverty is a huge concern in Canberra? 

ACTCOSS and Hands Across Canberra would like you to take 10 mins this week to discuss some of the real facts about poverty in Canberra relating to child poverty. We have made a list of some of the latest facts contributing to suffering within our community – especially our Canberran kids. 

If you would like to learn more head to the bottom of the page, where you will also see other ways that you can help or get involved.

10 minutes of your time, that could potentially help children in Canberra and Australia get out of poverty. 

  • Affordable accommodation is one of the biggest contributors to poverty in Canberra.  We have the highest rent prices in the country, causing significant stress, especially for single parents. 
    • The ACT has the highest average rental for units and houses in Australia. Apartment rent in Canberra is $150 a week higher than the national average. 
    • The ACT has the highest amount of rental stress among low-income private rental households, at 73%. Rental stress means that a low-income household is paying more than 30% of your income on housing expenses leaving insufficient money to cover food, healthcare, utilities, transport and other essentials.
    • The rental vacancy rate in Canberra is just 0.7%, compared to 1.1% last year.
    • As of March 2021, out of 1,002 private rental properties advertised in Canberra none were affordable for households on working age social security payments such as JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, and the Disability Support Pension. An extremely small proportion were affordable for households receiving the age pension or on the minimum wage.
  • Over the last 5 years medical and hospital costs have increased by 28%
  • Electricity prices have increased by 25%, and gas prices have increased by 31%
  • Housing costs are up by 15%
  • For households in the lowest income quintile essential goods and services make up 51% of their household expenditure compared to 36% of their highest income quintile counterparts.

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Please share any images that you have of your ‘Take 10 to talk about poverty’ using hashtag #APW2021 #AntiPovertyWeek2021 #CBR #handsacrosscanberra @ACTCOSS and some tiles below.

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Stories from the ACT

Every one of us needs enough money to buy food, pay bills, pay for somewhere to live.  Anyone of us can have a series of unfortunate life events occur that can catapult us into poverty.  Not all of us are lucky enough to have enough people around who can help.  

Poverty has an immense impact on health and wellbeing, quality of life and opportunity.  Income support payments that are set below the poverty line entrench disadvantage.  Strengthening the safety net helps all of us - the entire community.   Hold the faces and the stories of all of us in your minds - anyone can experience misfortune.  It's time to act.  Make the decision now to raise the rate for good.

- Lauren, ACT 

It's been a few years since I was unemployed due to injury, but I will never forget how hard it was. I lived with a crippling injury for years without diagnosis because I couldn't afford to go to specialist appointments. I couldn't even afford physio, and didn't meet the requirements for the public system. Depression and isolation, teamed with unmanaged pain. Unfortunately, the lack of support at the time means that nearly ten years on I still have a chronic pain condition.”

After rent I had $120 a fortnight to go towards food, medication, transport, and trying to keep a phone and electricity on. (Home brand) Two minute noodles with frozen veggies was about as healthy as I could eat with a bag of groceries costing about $50 these days. You can't get a job without a phone on, so I tried to prioritise that in somewhere over food just to get out of the rut. Some days I would just cry on the floor from the pain, but there was nothing else I could do for it. I saved $10 a fortnight for almost a year just to see someone to find out what was wrong. 

It was so hard, I couldn't use public transportation easily due to the injury, and couldn't afford to put fuel in the car some weeks to even get to the supermarket. Driving to see friends was out of the question most of the time so I just stayed home. 

Before I was injured I was working a casual job on ok money, after five years with the company there was no sick leave or assistance due to the position. I think there is a stigma that needs to be broken around government assistance. I didn't choose to need government payments. Having been on the other side, it's a very hard position to get out of. People on payments still deserve to be able to afford doctors and mental help, and they definitely still deserve to eat and stay warm. And honestly, I just got lucky. I'm still not physically fit, but have managed to keep a job for the moment. I hate to think what will happen if my injury gets worse again.

- Jane, ACT 

Other ways you can get involved

Research on poverty