ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Living costs loom large

18 October 2012

The ACT Council of Social Service, peak representative body for not-for-profit community organisations, and disadvantaged and low-income citizens, is launching a Cost of Living Report, as part of Anti-Poverty Week 2012. The report provides an overview of some of the basic costs of living faced by ACT residents as at June, 2012 and how they have increased over the past 5 years.

“The plight of Canberrans on low incomes is overshadowed by the higher-than-average incomes in the area, yet cost of living remains a pertinent issue for far too many ACT residents. The increasing cost of living is not being matched by increases in allowances and wages for all Canberrans.”

Roslyn Dundas ACTCOSS Director continued, “Approximately 10% of Canberrans face difficult choices everyday, low-incomes not stretching as far in high-cost Canberra as they might elsewhere, and this is putting increased strain on local community services.”

Households on low and fixed incomes, such as the Newstart allowance, are particularly vulnerable to increasing costs. Research shows households on the lowest incomes spend 152% of their gross income on goods and services, while the highest income households only spend 55%. These figures highlight the pressure low-income families are under, especially when essential services continue to increase in cost. This report shows utilities costs have risen nearly 48% since 2007 (three times that compared to overall CPI at 14%) and low-income households expend double the total proportion spent by other households on utilities such as energy and water. Low-income households then spend significantly less on health expenses than high-income households.

“When families feel cost of living pressures bearing down, they will look for ways in which to save money, and people’s health can then suffer,” Ms Dundas continued.

The average weekly wage in Canberra is around $1310 per week, however the median equivalised disposable household income is $1009. Research by the Australian Council of Social Service released earlier this week notes that taking a 50% equalivised disposable income standard as a poverty line means Canberrans earning less than $505 per week ($26,350 per year) are experiencing poverty. 2006 census data puts this at approximately 10% of all Canberra households.

The full ACTCOSS Cost of Living Report is available at

Report Launch

When: Thursday 18 October from 2pm

Where: Kippax Uniting Community Centre, cnr Luke St and Hardwick Cres, Holt

Kippax Uniting Care provide emergency relief services, and staff will be available to discuss issues facing families in the area and the issues facing the service in response.

For more information or comment please contact
Roslyn Dundas, Director, 02 6202 7200.
Meg Richens, Kippax Uniting Care, 02 6254 1733