The ACT community sector today expressed disappointment in the ACT Government’s ACT Jobs and Economic Recovery Plan that has allocated a mere 0.47% of the Plan to essential community services.
Dr Emma Campbell, ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) CEO said: “ACTCOSS is dismayed by the ACT Chief Minister’s announcement that has failed to recognise the importance of the ACT community sector to our city’s economic and social recovery and long-term success.
“This Plan promises to support the community through the immediate impacts of COVID-19, and yet essential social and community infrastructure has been allocated only $23 million out of $4.9 billion.
“For every $100 spent in this Plan, only 47 cents is being spent on the community sector.
“Last week we welcomed the Government’s $9 million commitment to securing the Equal Remuneration Order. This will prevent job losses and enable organisations to pay their majority female workforce a basic legal wage.
“That money is included in today’s $23 million figure along with other previously announced initiatives. Today we have been promised almost no new money.
“The community services sector has done incredible work during the pandemic and economic crisis, responding to an increase in new clients accessing services and increased need from existing clients.
“And yet the ACT Government has today responded to the tireless work of the sector with a miniscule share of the overall funding for this Plan.
“How can the Chief Minister ask our community to ‘display resilience and agility’ when he is not providing adequate funding to the sector that supports Canberrans through services in housing and homelessness, mental health, ageing and aged care, food assistance, social connection, education and childcare, disability, drug and alcohol services, and support for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people?
“There is little in this Plan to meet the needs of Canberrans experiencing poverty, disadvantage and extreme hardship or isolation due to the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.
“This announcement comes as the COVID-19 Select Committee today recommended that: ‘the ACT Government increase funding to the NGO sector to enable them to respond to those experiencing stress and anxiety and focus on emotional and psychological wellbeing of community members as the pandemic progresses and in the longer term.’”
Dr Campbell continued: “In previous budgets, the ACT Government has said that community services are core infrastructure. In 2018, the Chief Minister said governments need to invest in the community sector ‘as responsible stewards of social and economic wellbeing’.
“In 2019, Mr Barr said: ‘Investing in our people is just as important as investing in Canberra’s infrastructure and services. This is a prosperous city, but some people are still falling behind.’
“This Plan delivers on none of that rhetoric.
“Moreover, the Government has failed to recognise that the community sector is a significant employer, especially of women, and a driver of economic growth.
“Refusing to invest in and grow our community service capacity is bad for Canberra’s workers, bad for our economy and bad for our recovery.”
ACTCOSS 2020 ACT Election Leaders Forum
When: 1pm - 2pm, Wednesday 2 September 2020
Where: Virtual event, RSVP here: http://bit.ly/ACTCOSSForum2020
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.