The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) and community sector member organisations have urged the ACT Government to prioritise investment in social housing and community services in the upcoming ACT 2021/22 Budget.
During meetings last week, the ACT community sector shared key funding needs with senior ACT Government officials including representatives from Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate (CMTEDD) and the Community Services Directorate (CSD).
Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO, said: “During these briefings, senior officials heard from the ACT community sector on the ongoing demand for affordable housing. For Canberrans on low income or income support, the chances of finding an affordable private rental in the ACT are slim to none. Additionally, the ACT has a shortage of 3,000 social dwellings and 1,600 Canberrans are experiencing homelessness.
“Having access to a safe, secure and affordable home is fundamental to overall wellbeing including a person’s mental and physical health, employment opportunities, personal safety and educational outcomes.
“The sector also highlighted the urgent need for investment in the community sector including service and funding gaps in mental health services, community transport, drug and alcohol supports, services for vulnerable young people and the community legal sector,” said Dr Campbell.
ACTCOSS has welcomed the ACT Government’s engagement with the community sector in the lead up to the 2021-22 ACT Budget. The access to key decision makers and opportunity to share community sector priorities has been constructive.
Dr Campbell said: “The briefings provided an opportunity for ACTCOSS to highlight the role the community sector can play in bolstering economic growth as the ACT Government works to reinvigorate the local economy following the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.
“Investment in the community sector has a double benefit – not only by supporting vulnerable Canberrans but also by creating employment and economic growth. According to the Grattan Institute, for every 1% of GDP invested in care work, employment is increased by 1.7% (compared with 0.9% for construction).
“ACTCOSS would like to thank the Chief Minister’s Office, ACT Treasury and other key directorates for their ongoing commitment to engaging with the community sector in the lead up to crucial Budget decisions. We have enjoyed a productive dialogue and appreciate the opportunity to share perspectives relevant to disadvantaged and vulnerable Canberrans,” Dr Campbell concluded.
The ACT Budget consultation process is open until Monday 28 June 2021, and feedback can be provided via survey or submission. ACTCOSS encourages community sector organisations to share their input directly via the Budget consultation process and will be sharing its submission publicly shortly.
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.