This week ACTCOSS has been responding to the release of the 2019 Report on Government Services (ROGS) by the Productivity Commission. Chapters released so far have pointed to the ongoing need for investments and policy work in housing, homelessness and justice system responses.
Housing and Homelessness
The ROGS show services are doing well but also point to unique stresses faced by people on low incomes. The ACT is far from solving its housing and homelessness problems.
On Census night in 2016, 1,596 people were counted as experiencing homelessness in the ACT. Of these, 54 people were rough sleeping, up from the 28 people counted in 2011.
Services continue to see steady and rising numbers of people coming into their service every day to access hot food and breakfasts. There was an increase in unmet need for homelessness services clients with a need for accommodation in 2017-18 (34.0%) and this was higher than the national rate (32.7%).
The ROGS show the ACT also has a relatively high proportion of people receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance experiencing rental stress - 47.9%, vs 40.3% nationally in 2018.
We need prompt, rigorous and timely implementation of the ACT Affordable Housing Strategy released last year as well as a rise in Federal Newstart and Youth Allowance which fall far below the levels needed to sustain housing and other essentials in our city.
The ROGS spotlight a sharp rise in the number of people imprisoned in the ACT from 171 in 2008-09 to 474 in 2017-18. This shows the need for the ACT to focus on diversion from the justice system, and increasing early supports that prevent sustained or escalated contact. Poverty and discrimination strongly factor into justice system contact, particularly when it begins with contact with the out-of-home-care system, youth justice, and adult justice. The government must invest in culturally appropriate and specific early support mechanisms that can end the cycles of disadvantage that contribute to this overrepresentation.
Read more about our advocacy for justice investments in the ACTCOSS Community Budget Submission 2019-20.
You can read the Productivity Commission's Report on Government Services on their website.