ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: 80% of community services can’t meet demand

8 December 2014

A national report released by the Australian Council of Social Service today provides alarming evidence that community services are not able to meet demand for support because of a lack of resources, and that quality of life is decreasing for some of the most disadvantaged people in our community.

Commenting on this report today, Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service said: “This means people in Canberra who are eligible for support are being turned away – most often from legal and housing services.

“Workers from ACT organisations working directly with people accessing services said young people out of work, single parent families and older people out of work were the people they were most concerned about. 

“These groups, like the rest of us, want the chance to get education, training and a job, live in affordable housing and have adequate income to meet their needs. This research tells us that over the past year it has become harder to reach these modest goals, and to access services that can provide assistance.

“These research findings should ring alarm bells for the Federal Government whose policies on income support, employment services, education fees, Medicare and tax reform would inflict deeper pain on the people doing it toughest in our community. On top of this, the Federal Government approach to service procurement has been deeply disruptive and has created extreme uncertainty.

“ACTCOSS is also calling on the ACT Government to take action to reduce economic hardship for the 28,600 people we know just can’t keep up with the high costs of living in our city by:

  • Revisiting the Targeted Assistance Strategy and improving concessions to better support people living on low incomes and struggling to cover the costs of housing, utilities, transport and other essentials
  • Increasing the number of affordable houses in the ACT
  • Ensuring that ACT and Federal Government funding to the services with highest unmet demand – legal assistance and housing support – is secured and grows to meet demand

“This research builds on the findings from the report from the Senate Inquiry on Inequality, Anglicare ACT research on young people’s experience of the labour market and research from ACTCOSS and the Women’s Centre for Health Matters on the growth in Canberra of insecure work and underemployment.

“It reminds us that the high average income and quality of life in Canberra conceals deep hardship and exclusion.”

For more information or comment please contact
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987 or 02 6202 7200.