Susan Helyar, Director of the ACT Council of Social Service, commented today on the announcement of the new portfolio arrangements for Ministers released by Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
“I welcome the new Cabinet and congratulate Yvette Berry MLA on her Ministerial appointment. ACTCOSS looks forward to working with Minister Berry whose portfolio responsibilities, which include Housing, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Community Services, Multicultural Affairs, Women, and Social Inclusion and Equality, cover much of the core business of ACTCOSS – advocating for policy, programs and services that promote justice, equality, reconciliation and social inclusion.”
Elevating social inclusion and equality to portfolio responsibilities, as the Barr Government has done, signals a commitment to these issues that ACTCOSS actively encourages. Ms Helyar continued: “We are heartened by this development. Ensuring that the ACT is an inclusive and equitable community now and into the future is something that should be recognised as larger than partisan politics.
“ACTCOSS has long advocated the need to ensure that decisions made by government are responsive to those in our community who are made most vulnerable. Recent Federal Budget cuts, and anticipated future Commonwealth cuts in the areas of human and social services, we know will put additional pressure on the Territory government. The goals of inclusion and equality must be central in responding to this policy environment. Concerted efforts in building social capital as well as building economic prosperity will be vital in the next 2 years for the government.”
While ACTCOSS welcomes these new portfolio areas within the Cabinet, we also note that there is an ongoing challenge with the Human Services portfolios remaining dispersed across several Ministerial offices. This continues the need for extensive liaison, collaboration and cooperation between different Ministers' offices and Directorates. In this context the success of the Human Services Blueprint is more important than ever because alignment and coordination across reforms in the different portfolio areas is vital to ensuring positive outcomes in education; social and economic participation and family wellbeing and safety: “Effective alignment, coordination and communication across the Human Services system is fundamental to achieving social inclusion and equality,” Ms Helyar concluded.
For more information or comment please contact
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987 or 02 6202 7200.