Leaders from across the ACT community sector came together today to launch 2022 Anti-Poverty Week (APW) and to call for action to be taken to end poverty. During the launch, CEOs representing organisations working with local families highlighted the ongoing challenges faced by Canberrans living below the poverty line.
To coincide with Anti-Poverty Week, ACTCOSS has released its updated ACT Poverty Factsheet for 2022.
Co-chair Act APW and ACTCOSS Acting CEO, Dr Gemma Killen said: “As costs of living rise, we are seeing more and more Canberrans facing poverty and disadvantage and unable to afford rent, food, and essential healthcare. This APW we are calling on the Federal Government to raise the rate of income support to at least $70 per day and the ACT Government to invest in social housing and to support the community sector as it supports those doing it the most tough.”
Co-chair ACT APW and Care FCS CEO, Carmel Franklin said: "Poverty is not a lifestyle choice. Nearly 1 in 10 Canberrans experience poverty either because of chronic low income or a change of circumstances beyond their control. In our largely affluent community this is not right. We urgently need a review of Centrelink payments and further investment in social housing."
For a full list of events and more information and resources on APW you can go to the ACT’s Anti-Poverty Week page which lists all the events. For information on events in other jurisdictions and the national campaign visit the national Anti-Poverty Week website.
ACT Anti-Poverty Week 2022 is being convened by Co-Chairs Dr Gemma Killen, Acting CEO ACT Council of Social Service and Ms Carmel Franklin, CEO Care FCS. It is supported by an Executive Committee with representatives from ACTCOSS, Care Financial, ACT Mental Health Consumer Network, The Benevolent Society, Community Services #1, Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT, St Vincent de Paul Canberra/Goulburn, and Women’s Health Matters.
The APW committee thanks Ngunnawal Elder Serena Williams for her welcome to country at this morning’s launch.
This year the 2022 ACT Anti-Poverty Week Committee gratefully received a grant from the ACT Government to support APW activities.
Quotes from leaders from the ACT community sector:
Lucy Hohnen, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Canberra/Goulburn:
“Canberrans have seen some of the largest increases in the cost of essential goods and services in over two decades. Our front-line teams see the impact of these increases every day. Demand for assistance and our support services has increased by 15% and is on an upward trajectory. Thanks to the generosity of the Canberra community and the support of government, we’ve been able to support those in need in our community, but now is the time for some bold initiatives from Government to address this growing crisis and we look forward to collaborating with all levels to make a positive difference.”
Amanda Tobler, CEO, Community Services #1:
“In the past few years we’ve seen more and more working families seeking food relief from our food pantry. They are a new and growing group in our community who seek assistance because they cannot pay for life essentials. Never before has our organisation seen the levels of requests for assistance as we are right now. This anti-poverty week highlights a significant increase in the challenges faced by many families and individuals in the community. It also highlights the growing pressure this puts on community organisations like CS#1.”
Sue Webeck, CEO, Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT:
“The Domestic Violence Crisis Service sees on a daily basis the intersecting impacts of poverty in our community. People are faced with the unimaginable circumstance of staying because the choice to leave domestic, family or intimate partner violence will also create a housing and financial crisis for them. The rapid and ongoing increase in the cost of living is creating an environment which impedes safety in our community and sustainable access to supports for those who need them.”
Lauren Anthes, CEO, Women’s Health Matters:
“Women are more likely to have unique health concerns and issues that relate to their gender and their life roles, such as pregnancy and childbirth. WHM is calling for employers to implement reproductive health leave policies to normalise reproductive health in the workplace and the support people to take leave, work flexibly and attend appointments to ensure their reproductive health needs are met, without being financially penalised. We welcome the motion introduced by Suzanne Orr last week to call ACT Government to investigate paid menstrual and menopause leave for ACT Public Service Employees.”
Jeremy Halcrow, Executive Director, The Benevolent Society:
"Rising costs of living are leaving more and more Canberrans at risk of homelessness. This includes older Australians who are facing poverty for the first time in their lives. Without adequate support, too many people in our community are making hard choices between eating healthily, heating their home and paying for medicines and other health care costs. This cost-of-living crisis is only getting worse, and we must do whatever we can to care for fellow Canberrans."
ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations. Follow us @ACTCOSS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Gemma Killen, Acting CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0404 024 913 or 02 6202 7200.