The ACT Council of Social Service supports the overall direction of the ACT Budget for 2016-17 announced today. New funding to respond better to the needs of people exposed to domestic and family violence, more funding for mental health, drug and alcohol treatment, emergency and trauma health services, justice programs and well targeted resources to improve education outcomes for students with disabilities and other students not well served by our schools are welcome.
Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service said today, “We advised the government in our Budget submission that addressing the drivers of inequality and the barriers to economic and community participation should guide decisions about government spending.
“The ACT Government has recognised that our economy will grow well, and our community will be strong and inclusive, if we ensure all people, regardless of age, ability, the language they speak or the background they come from, are able to access core infrastructure.
“The investment in improved quality and accessibility of public housing and increasing the reach and frequency of bus services are important. Modest refinements in the concessions program, to increase access to energy concessions and better target concessions older people are eligible for are supported, as is the increase in resources to the concessions program in line with population growth.
“ACTCOSS does have some ongoing concerns, with a lack of attention to increasing the momentum around disability rights, ongoing gaps in legal assistance service funding, and indexation of community service funding not matching cost increases. We also want to see that the jobs initiatives deliver work with enough hours and decent wages so the spending power of households and individuals on low incomes improves.”
Improving supply of affordable housing has been a top priority for ACTCOSS over the last two years. Ms Helyar noted, “The measures that improve land supply and preference stamp duty reduction in lower cost housing should help to reduce growth in the price of housing for purchase.
“However, the gaping hole in the rental market for people not eligible for public housing whose incomes don't come close to covering private rental prices remains. ACTCOSS will continue to seek a commitment to dealing with this major failure of the ACT housing market from all candidates in the ACT Election later this year.
“The overall direction of this Budget is positive. The government has secured the revenue base for the ACT, invested in many of the measures we recommended and has acknowledged the future prosperity of our city relies on improved social inclusion and reduced inequality,” Ms Helyar concluded.
For more information or comment please contact
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987 or 02 6202 7200.