ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Report highlights need for more community sector funding

21 December 2021

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has called for more funding for the community sector following the release of a report highlighting increased demand across the ACT for services including housing and homeless supports, domestic and family violence crisis services and mental health supports.

ACOSS’s Australian Community Sector Survey 2021, released today, showed that across Australia increased demand is not being matched with the resources required for organisations to meet community need. ACTCOSS’s ACT Community Sector Demand Snapshot, which highlights the key findings in the survey for the ACT, showed that Canberra was not faring any better than the rest of the country.

Key survey findings from ACT community sector respondents included:

  • More than two thirds (67%) reported increased levels of disadvantage amongst the groups they support
  • One fifth (21%) reported decreased availability of funding to support their work
  • Over three quarters (77%) reported growing complexity of need among service users
  • Around four in five (78%) reported increased demand for their services
  • Over half (51%) reported increases in numbers of clients their service was unable to support
  • Just 4% said their service was ‘always’ able to meet demand, down from 20% in 2020
  • Almost half (48%) of ACT housing and homelessness services staff said they were rarely or never able to meet demand.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “The findings from the survey tell us that the community sector in the ACT is struggling to meet demand as many individuals and families face increased levels of poverty and distress.

“The high levels of need are likely due to the prolonged effect of the pandemic and inadequate financial supports for households. As COVID-19 financial supports have ended and Centrelink payments remain woefully insufficient, many people have been plunged into poverty and mental stress.

“This has been compounded by the ACT’s affordable housing crisis and increases in cost of living for people on the lowest incomes.

“Across the community sector, survey participants reported that the pandemic had reduced service capacity. Options for referral were limited, and there were insufficient resources to hire the staff required to deliver services. More than a fifth of respondents reported decreased availability of funding to support their work.

“Despite the challenges, we know that the community sector has been a key part of the Territory’s COVID response. The survey showed the important contribution of the community sector to increasing vaccination rates, promoting digital literacy and access to technology, and providing emergency relief and financial support for those doing it tough," said Dr Campbell. 

ACTCOSS has joined with ACOSS in calling for a national recovery plan that includes a strategic partnership between the Federal Government and the community sector.

“It is also clear that the ACT Government must work closely with the community sector to ensure it is properly resourced and Canberrans have access to the services they need,” Dr Campbell concluded.

ACTCOSS's 2021 Community Sector Demand Snapshot is available on the ACTCOSS website. ACOSS's 2021 Australian Community Sector Survey is available on the ACOSS website.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations. Follow us @ACTCOSS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.