ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: ACT Anti-Poverty Week 2021 Committee welcomes Chief Minister’s Support

17 April 2021

The ACT Anti-Poverty Week 2021 Committee, co-chaired by Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, and Jenny Kitchin, Woden Community Service CEO, thanked the ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr MLA, for the ACT Government’s sponsorship of ACT Anti-Poverty Week 2021.

Anti-Poverty Week is held in October each year to coincide with the United Nations Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In 2021, it will be held from the 17th to the 23rd of October.

Jenny Kitchin, CEO of Woden Community Service and Co-Chair of the ACT Anti-Poverty Week 2021 Committee said: “Anti-Poverty Week is an opportunity to raise awareness of how poverty hurts not just the individual, but also the entire community – and to call for specific, concrete actions that will reduce poverty in the ACT.

“The ACT Anti-Poverty Week 2021 Committee thanks the ACT Government for their $15,000 sponsorship, which will provide us with the capacity to engage more broadly with the Canberra community. We particularly look forward to working with Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA, Minister for Families and Community Services, to open a discussion with the entire Canberra community around the challenges of poverty and disadvantage in the ACT.

“Many of us enjoy a high standard of living, and it can be easy to overlook the impacts of poverty. However, approximately 38,000 Canberrans are living below the poverty line – 8.6% of the population. In low-income households, at least 25,000 people are experiencing food stress,” said Ms Kitchin.

Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO and Co-Chair of the ACT Anti-Poverty Week 2021 Committee said: “Adequacy of income and the cost of housing are the two main drivers of poverty.

“The economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are ongoing. There has been a 60% increase in the number of Canberrans looking for work and in need of income support compared to this time last year.

“The Federal Government’s removal of the Coronavirus supplement leaves these Canberrans struggling to survive on financial supports that are substantially below the poverty line.

“Canberra’s housing crisis has also received a great deal of media attention recently, but that is cold comfort for those who are struggling to find a rental, waiting on the public housing list, or finding themselves homeless.

“The statistics are grim: Canberra has the highest rents in the nation; there is a shortfall of around 3000 social housing dwellings; and the recent Everybody’s Home report predicts a 7.8% increase in homelessness in the ACT.

“This year we will be calling on the Canberra community to join us in advocating for real, permanent change to reduce both the levels and the impacts of poverty in the ACT.

That change should include an adequate level of income support for those out of work; sufficient funding for community services that play a vital role in preventing, reducing, and alleviating the impacts of poverty; and affordable housing commensurate to demand,” Dr Campbell concluded.

To learn more about Anti-Poverty Week 2021, visit the national website. More details of how you can get involved and local events will be released in the lead up to Anti-Poverty Week 2021.

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