ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: ACT Election 2020: Planning and Infrastructure to Build Community

1 September 2020

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has today released its fourth 2020 ACT Election issue brief, Planning and Infrastructure to Build Community.

The brief calls for a renewed focus on improved and inclusive social planning in transport, housing and community facilities as Canberra changes and its population heads toward half a million people.

ACTCOSS Policy Manager, Mr Craig Wallace, said: “As Canberra gets denser and higher, and new suburbs are developed, we need social planning that puts people at the centre of change. 

“We need a socially connected and sustainable city – where planning for new housing, urban precinct design and community facilities is driven by a sound understanding of community needs through audit, stocktake and gap analysis

“Densification must focus on affordability. It should also help to build strong communities through good design, incorporate greenspace and be underpinned by high quality construction.

“As well as government, private developers also have a responsibility to design and curate good spaces for people to connect and engage through local shops and commerce, community facilities and greenspace. 

“We don’t want a city of heat islands and wind corridors where vulnerable people have no refuge in climate extremes. We also don’t want isolated suburbs where older people without access to a car have to walk miles on a mobility device just to access a shop or a community program.

“We need ‘social planning’ which engages those most affected by planning decisions. This includes older people who need access and proximity to facilities, young people who deserve good spaces to gather and people on low incomes who need to be close to services.

“We need to bring Canberrans who face disadvantage into the centre of planning conversations. 2020 has taught us that social connection at a neighbourhood level is critical when times are tough.  

“We need a focus on community facilities so that people can connect. We need to support community development work, such as CDNet and community workers, so strong neighbourhoods can grow. 

“Transport needs a gap analysis which looks beyond mass transit buses and light rail. We need investment in on-demand transport for those who face transport disadvantage, and proper funding for community transport. This is vital for people with transport barriers, like older people, people with disability and those on low incomes.

“The next ACT Assembly should take a serious and holistic look at the costs and benefits of making public transport free and / or strengthening subsidies and concessions. Transport is a public good which drives social connection and access to jobs,” Mr Wallace said.

Find ACTCOSS’s 2020 ACT Election issue brief Planning and Infrastructure to Build Community here.

Find our other issue briefs at our ACT Election page.

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

For more information or comment, please contact
Craig Wallace, Policy Manager, ACTCOSS, on 0477 200 755 or 02 6202 7200.