ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

ACTCOSS calls on ACT Government to fully fund community services

28 June 2021

In the lead up to the 2021-22 ACT Budget, the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has made a submission to the ACT Government’s Budget Consultation. The 2021-22 ACT Budget will be released on 31 August 2021.

In its submission, ACTCOSS has listed its priority policies for the achievement of a just and fair Canberra. Included are calls for the ACT Government to urgently address the ACT’s ongoing housing crisis; to provide adequate funding for community sector organisations; and to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell said: “Approximately 8.6% of Canberrans are living below the poverty line and around 40,000 of people live in households that are among Australia’s most disadvantaged. The number of Canberrans receiving Job Seeker or Youth Allowance is currently one third above pre-COVID levels.

“The ACT’s community service organisations are on the front line, offering support to Canberrans who are struggling during these difficult times. In the wake of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, demand for assistance is increasing and vulnerable individuals and families are presenting with more complex and challenging issues.

“As the sector tries to meet growing demand, it is facing a funding cliff. In the coming financial year, wages will increase by 2.5%. Rents paid by community service organisations to the ACT Government will increase by 3%. Long service leave contributions will increase from 1.2% to 1.6%, and compulsory superannuation contributions from 9.5% to 10%.

“Yet, the expected increase in ACT Government funding to the health and community services sector is expected to be a mere 1.75%.

“This will result in the services having to make difficult choices – including scaling back supports for Canberra’s most vulnerable,” said Dr Campbell.

In addition to addressing community sector funding, ACTCOSS has also called on the ACT Government to urgently address the Territory’s housing crisis.

Dr Campbell said: “The ACT continues to have a shortfall of over 3000 social housing dwellings and the ACT has the highest rate of rental stress among lower income private rental households of any jurisdiction.

“The ACT Government must urgently deliver more public housing and also empower our community housing providers to build the 600 affordable houses that the government has committed to delivering in the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement,” Dr Campbell said.

The ACTCOSS Budget Submission can be found here.

The submission has been developed in consultation with ACTCOSS’s membership. It includes ACTCOSS’s budget priorities in the following sectors: housing and homelessness; community services; health; alcohol and other drugs; mental health; Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander self-determination; poverty, inequality and cost of living; disability; climate and energy; justice; children, young people and families; women, gender and sexuality; human rights; older Canberrans; and planning and transport.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.