A MOTION will be brought to the ACT Legislative Assembly tomorrow (September 16) calling on the ACT government to increase support for Canberra’s community sector.
Leading the motion will be Greens MLA Johnathan Davis who was inspired to make the calls following an open letter to the Chief Minister from peak bodies in the community sector highlighting a dramatic increase to community sector need, which has brought it under strain.
The motion will call on the ACT government to continue to work closely with the ACT community sector in the government’s response to COVID-19, examine options to provide financial support and security to community sector organisations during this period, and explore options to provide additional financial supports to Canberrans on low incomes.
The motion will ask the government to report back to the assembly on November 10.
When bringing the motion to the assembly tomorrow, Mr Davis will say that all Canberrans have a right to feel safe, to have a roof over their heads, and have the physical and mental care that they need.
“It is the ACT community sector that provides these vital services to Canberrans. Without them, the ACT government would not be able to respond as effectively as it has to the significant and complex public health challenges during this current outbreak of COVID-19,” he will say.
“However, since the lockdown began, many of these organisations have faced both a drop in income and an increased need for their services.
“Community workers have rolled up their sleeves and worked incredibly hard to provide support to local people facing the most challenging circumstances. The ACT government must ensure they are resourced appropriately.
“The current outbreak in the ACT is having a disproportionate effect on people who are already vulnerable.
“The continued failure of the Federal Government to provide adequate income support payments to unemployed and under-employed Canberrans continues to place substantial additional pressures on the community sector to support people on low incomes.
“This motion is the first step to securing essential additional resources for a sector that tirelessly supports us in our times of need.”
ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) CEO Emma Campbell said COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable Canberrans and that the ACT’s community sector is on the front line, ready to support those most affected.
“Throughout these difficult months, the community sector has never stopped providing healthcare including vaccinations and testing, legal advice, emergency relief, housing and homelessness services, mental health care, early education, and aged and disability support,” she said.
“The ACT’s community service organisations provide support to people when they need it most. Whatever the challenge faced, community sector staff work tirelessly to support the ACT community and deliver essential services to those who need support.
“Yet, community sector work is too often undervalued and underfunded and our female-dominated workforce is chronically underpaid.
“Basic funding for community services has remained static despite rising demand and rising costs. Supporting the sector makes economic sense – for every 1 per cent of GDP invested in care work increases direct, indirect and induced employment by 1.7 per cent.
“But more importantly, it makes sense for our community. Our sector is the backbone of Canberra, supporting the community, families and individuals at all stages of life.
“Additional support must include more investment in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander self-determination, policy and initiatives – in community-controlled health, housing and education activities, and support for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander cultures.”
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