ACT Budget 2023 – Solid Investments, Time for Greater Collaboration
27 June 2023
The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed funding in today’s ACT Budget for housing, homelessness, mental health, and expanded energy concessions. ACTCOSS invites the ACT Government to collaboratively explore where increasing service delivery by non-profit community organisations would enhance the Government’s return on investment.
The Budget included previously announced measures of $345m for affordable and public housing growth and maintenance, $20m for homelessness services, $98m for community facilities, $15m for funding community sector indexation, and $28m for mental health response services.
Key budget measures welcomed by ACTCOSS include:
- $55.9m for 140 new public housing dwellings
- $37.78m over four years for cost of living support for Canberrans on low incomes
- $430,000 in 2023-24 for increasing support for refugees and asylum seekers with essential living costs
- $80m over two years for expanding the Sustainable Household Scheme
ACTCOSS also welcomed increases to the taxi subsidy scheme, as well as investments in the implementation of the Next Steps for Our Kids Strategy and significant funding for programs to improve justice outcomes in the ACT.
ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Devin Bowles said: “The ACT Government has delivered significant investments in community infrastructure, workforce, and services in the 2023-24 ACT Budget. Funding for public housing, and homelessness services are also responding to urgent demand in the face of both housing and cost of living crises for our community. We congratulate the ACT Government for making positive investments in our community.
“The Budget has gone some way in funding supports for vulnerable Canberrans through the expansion and increase of utilities concessions, and investment in the Sustainable Household Scheme to reflect broader eligibility. However, with the exception of housing, the great majority of this investment appears to be an expansion of Government rather than in front line community services run by trusted non-profit organisations.
“Each time the ACT Government makes an investment to deliver better outcomes to Canberrans, we would like to see it engage with the community sector to assess whether that investment would be best directed through the community sector.
“The community sector already has strong, trusted relationships with the community, including those most in need, and is often best placed to deliver services.”
Gaps in the budget include a lack of investment in the Disability Strategy and Disability Health Strategy, and limited investment in alcohol and other drug services. ACTCOSS is also concerned by the lack of commitment for the long-awaited Review of the Targeted Assistance Strategy.
Further, while it is encouraging that fees have not been increased, ACTCOSS notes there have also been no advancements made towards much needed, better targeted public transport concessions.
Dr Bowles continued: “The programs and services lacking funding in this Budget are reflective of the need for ongoing collaboration and codesign processes between the Government and the community sector to prevent vulnerable and disadvantaged Canberrans from slipping through the cracks.
“Ensuring a fair share of public funding is allocated to community sector frontline services is essential to seeing improved community wellbeing, safety and justice,” Dr Bowles said.
“We look forward to seeing the commitments made in the ACT Budget implemented through continued collaboration between the community sector and ACT Government to ensure improved outcomes for those struggling through the cost of living crisis,” Dr Bowles concluded.
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 Devin Bowles, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0423 435 080.