The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today welcomed confirmation by the ACT Government that key frontline community services would continue to receive funding from 1 July 2021 following the delay of the 2021-22 ACT Budget to 31 August 2021.
Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO said: “As a result of the delayed ACT Budget, many services were unsure whether funding that ended this 30 June would continue into the new financial year.
“This announcement will provide relief to those organisations who were worried that they would have to close down services and supports for some of Canberra’s most vulnerable people.”
ACTCOSS acknowledged that some of this funding was the continuance of support initiated during the COVID-19 epidemic and to cover shortfalls created by the cessation of COVID-19 funding from the Australian Government.
“Evidence shows that increased need and disadvantage follows sometime after the peak of a major crisis. We are seeing this through a rise in demand across our member organisations. We therefore welcome the news that this funding will be continued,” said Dr Campbell.
ACTCOSS also acknowledged an increase to the Safer Families Levy of $5 per year over four years to deliver an additional $8.8 million of revenue.
Dr Campbell said: “The Safer Families Levy sends the message that the whole community must play a role in protecting those at risk of harm from domestic and family violence. We have been calling for increased transparency and accountability around the Safer Families Levy and a fairer share for the community sector.
“We are encouraged that the ACT Government has committed to using the additional levy for investment in frontline domestic and family violence services,” she said.
However, while these announcements were welcome, Dr Campbell said that the community sector urgently needed a major funding boost across all services and organisations.
“As the sector tries to meet growing demand, it is facing a funding cliff.
“In the coming financial year, wages will increase by 2.5%. Rents paid by community service organisations to the ACT Government will increase by 3%. Long service leave contributions will increase from 1.2% to 1.6%, and compulsory superannuation contributions from 9.5% to 10%.
“However, indications are that the increase in ACT Government funding to the health and community services sector will be limited to 1.75%.
“We call on the ACT Government to ensure that the indexation increase for community sector funding covers the spiralling costs of delivering essential services to Canberra’s most vulnerable,” Dr Campbell concluded.
Find the ACTCOSS Budget Submission here.
ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.