ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Tough times ahead balanced by targeted investment

4 June 2013

Susan Helyar, Director of ACTCOSS said today, "The 2013-14 ACT Budget is a modest Budget that sets Canberra up to get through what is expected to be a tough couple of years for the ACT economy and community.

"The Budget includes $127.7million in new spending.

"ACTCOSS welcomes investment in health, education and disability services. We are pleased to see the Common Ground affordable housing and support program has been funded. These investments will enhance services available to thousands of people in Canberra.

"This investment is only possible because the Government has continued to build revenue through tax reform. We support the Government's plan to increase the fairness of the ACT tax system by taxing growth in wealth. 

"ACTCOSS also supports measures to address costs of living – including stamp duty concessions, grants for first home owners, reduced levies on insurance payments and increased support for utilities bills. 

"On the other hand, new services have been funded via cuts to other services. We are particularly concerned about services to young people. We will be advocating for changes in youth programs to build on existing strengths. Our priority is continuity of support and better quality of outcomes for vulnerable young people, who are not getting what they need from education, health and other services.

"Treasury has predicted no real growth in employment, so long term unemployment will increase. This will mean increased demand for social services.”

Ms Helyar expressed concern about the ongoing strength and sustainability of community managed services: "The funds to cover the costs of meeting the Equal Remuneration Order for community sector workers will ensure staff on award wages get a well deserved pay rise.

"However, indexation for social services basically matches the expected inflation rate. This means indexation will only cover the increased cost of operating expenses like rent, petrol and insurance, and increases in employee entitlements such as superannuation. There will be very little room to increase wages for those staff already earning above the Equal Remuneration Order rates.”

Ms Helyar concluded that, "Overall, this is a fiscally tight Budget that still manages to invest in crucial service development. We look forward to working with the Government to ensure implementation delivers for the disadvantaged and vulnerable people ACTCOSS exists to serve."

For more information or comment please contact
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987 or 02 6202 7200.