Urgent need for investment in community sector to meet challenge of Covid

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has today welcomed a motion by Johnathan Davis MLA calling on the ACT Government to support the ACT’s community sector organisations.

The motion, to be tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly tomorrow, will acknowledge the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis on the most vulnerable in our community and important role of community sector organisations in supporting the ACT Government’s response.

Dr Emma Campbell, ACTCOSS CEO said: “It means a lot to receive public acknowledgement of the work done by community sector organisations and community sector workers. ACTCOSS thanks Johnathan Davis MLA for introducing this important motion in the ACT Assembly.

“COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable Canberrans. 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.

“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.

Dr Campbell said that many of the acute issues faced by Canberrans during this crisis, such as significant increased demand for homelessness services, resulted from a long-term lack of investment areas including social housing, child and family supports, frontline domestic violence supports, drug and alcohol services and the community legal sector.

Dr Campbell said: “Even before this most recent outbreak, funding for these essential services has not kept up with increasing costs and growing demand.

“And as the ACT housing crisis worsens and the Commonwealth Government fails in its obligations to provide a decent welfare system, disadvantage and vulnerability will continue to increase among Canberrans.

“Basic funding for community services has remained static despite rising demand and rising costs. Supporting the sector makes economic sense – for every 1% of GDP invested in care work increases direct, indirect and induced employment by 1.7%. 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.”

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

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