The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has called on all parties in the upcoming federal election to commit to a fairer Canberra by backing policies that support those who have the least.
Using national analysis and ACT-focused research, ACTCOSS has identified six policy priorities that will give a fair go to people on low incomes and those disadvantaged by current systems.
ACTCOSS’s 2022 federal election priorities are:
- Income Support: Increase the rate of JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, and other income support payments to at least $70 a day, further supplement the incomes of people with disability and single parents and index to CPI and wages.
- Housing Security: Increase national social housing stock by 25,000 homes per year and build at least 425 new social housing dwellings per year in Canberra in line with the best research and the Everybody’s Home campaign.
- Quality Community Services: Provide adequate federal funding for services provided by the community sector, including aged care, disability, homelessness, and domestic violence services, ensuring appropriate remuneration of the community sector workforce at rates which are regularly and adequately indexed.
- Fair, fast, inclusive Climate Action: Commit to reducing carbon pollution 75% by 2030 (on 2005 level) and net zero by 2035 by implementing a fair and inclusive plan to achieve the targets.
- Self-Determination for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people: Begin to address deep and ongoing wrongs inflicted against First Nations people, through commitment to the implementation of all recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody; a constitutionally guaranteed Voice to Parliament; and a commitment to Closing the Gap. Also, raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 nationally as the ACT Government has already committed to doing.
- Revenue: Rescind unaffordable tax cuts for people on higher incomes to invest in public services and provide support for the people who have the least.
ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “ACTCOSS fully supports the Raise the Rate for Good Campaign. Every year more Canberrans are finding it impossible to afford rent, food, cover transport costs, and pay for other essentials like health and utilities.
“The current rate of JobSeeker of just $46 per day forces individuals and families – including children – into poverty. Currently an estimated 38,000 people, nearly one in every ten Canberrans, lives in poverty. About one quarter of these are children.
“Poverty in the ACT is exacerbated by the current housing crisis. We have a shortfall of over 3,100 social housing dwellings and need at least 3,400 more dwellings for affordable renting. Homelessness rates in the ACT will continue to grow without appropriate investment.
“This is the responsibility of a federal government alongside state and territory governments.”
Dr Campbell continued: “The need for vital supports provided through community services has skyrocketed, particularly for those escaping domestic violence, facing homelessness, or struggling with their mental health.
“The shadow of COVID is likely to be long, and community services must be recognised and resourced as part of our national COVID-19 recovery plan. Stronger services mean more resilient communities.”
The impacts of worsening climate change are also hurting our ACT community through extreme weather and bushfires. An inclusive plan to address climate change is needed to improve the lives of people facing disadvantage.
ACTCOSS also recognises that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT and across Australia experience some of the worst disadvantage in the world. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT are incarcerated at 19 times the rate of non-Indigenous people. Addressing the serious harm that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people face in this country should be a priority across all government work.
Dr Campbell said: “If we want to achieve just, fair and equitable outcomes for Canberrans, we need to roll back the commitment to cut tax for people on the highest incomes. Without serious investment in income supports and essential services such as health and housing, we will see an acceleration of poverty alongside poorer wellbeing outcomes for everyone in our community.”
ACTCOSS will hold a 2022 Federal Election Forum with candidates from registered parties and Independents at 4pm on Thursday 28 April 2022 where candidates will be challenged on social justice priorities and reflect on community concerns through a local lens. Members of the media are invited to attend as observers.
ACTCOSS’s 2022 federal election priorities are available on our website.
For more information about the event, please contact ACTCOSS Deputy CEO Adam Poulter on ph: 0422 036 979 or via email: [email protected].
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 Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.