ACTCOSS welcomes calls for an Independent Inquiry into Poverty in Canberra

14 October 2022

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) welcomed Elizabeth Lee, MLA’s motion delivered yesterday, calling for the ACT Government to commission an independent inquiry into the prevalence of poverty in Canberra. The motion comes before Anti-Poverty Week (16th – 22nd October) and refers to ACTCOSS’ submission to the ACT Budget 2022-23.

ACTCOSS Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Gemma Killen said: “Given that approximately 38,000 Canberrans are currently living in poverty, including 9,000 children, there is an urgent need for intervention to address poverty and inequality in the region. Rates of poverty are going up as costs of living skyrocket in Canberra.

“This Anti-Poverty Week we are calling on the ACT and Federal Governments to take action to ensure every family can afford secure housing and cover the cost of essentials.

“We are disappointed the ACT Government chose not to take the opportunity to do more about poverty in Canberra. An independent inquiry could have been a positive step towards better understanding the drivers of poverty, and the disproportionate disadvantages experienced by marginalised communities.

“While ACT community organisations have consistently provided clear expert recommendations for addressing poverty, we have yet to see a significant reduction in the level of disadvantage in our community. We know that without increases to income support payments, investment in social and public housing and adequate, targeted concessions – we will continue to see people trapped in poverty.

“We urge the ACT Government to put a great deal more work and investment into reducing and preventing poverty in the ACT,” Dr Killen concluded.

During Anti-Poverty Week ACTCOSS is asking Canberrans to reflect on poverty and disadvantage on our own doorstep and what we can do to make a change.

For a full list of events and more information and resources on APW you can go to the ACT’s Anti-Poverty Week page. For information on events in other jurisdictions and the national campaign visit the national Anti-Poverty Week website.

Activities for 2022 ACT Anti-Poverty Week include:

Anti-Poverty Week Art Competition, entries close on Sunday!

The APW Art Competition is a youth art competition open to all Canberrans 18 years and under. Entries are open until Sunday 16th October with the theme: “Including Everyone”. All entrants will receive a small prize for their contributions!

Winners will be decided by a vote during APW and announced on Friday 21st October. For more information, and to enter, visit:

Anti-Poverty Week Forum, Thursday 20 October 12.15pm-1.30pm

This year as part of ACT’s Anti-Poverty Week, ACTCOSS and CARE Financial (Co-Chairs of ACT APW) are hosting a panel and forum at Canberra Museum + Gallery (CMAG) discussing issues of poverty and disadvantage in the ACT.

The panel will be moderated by ACT Council of Social Service’s Acting CEO Dr Gemma Killen and will include expert panellists;

  • Member for Canberra, Minister Alicia Payne,
  • ANUSA Student Assistance Advisor, Mr Hassan Riaz,
  • Director of ANU Children’s Policy Centre, and Poverty & Inequality Research Centre, Professor Sharon Bessell,
  • UnionsACT Campaign Organiser, Kasey Tompkins

For more information and to attend, visit the Eventbrite page.

AFI Anti-Poverty Week Online Forum, Monday 17 October 12.30pm – 2.00pm

Members of Advocacy for Inclusion, people with disability and allies are invited to Finding home: accessible and affordable housing in Canberra – an AFI Anti-Poverty Week Forum.

This forum is being hosted by Advocacy for Inclusion with support from the ACT Council of Social Service and will mark the start of Anti-Poverty week highlighting housing accessibility and affordability issues for people with disability struggling to find and maintain suitable housing in our city.

Register online via Eventbrite.

Canberra Lit in Blue, Sunday 16 – Saturday 22 October

Telstra Tower, the Treasury Building and the National Carillon will be blue during the evenings of APW 2022.

The colour blue has been chosen in line with the lighting up of monuments across Australia to symbolise a brighter future of hope particularly for children living in poverty.

ACT Anti-Poverty Week 2022 is being convened by Co-Chairs Dr Gemma Killen, Acting CEO, ACT Council of Social Service, and Ms Carmel Franklin, CEO Care Financial. It is supported by an Executive Committee with representatives from Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT, Women’s Health Matters ACT, Council on the Ageing ACT, Women’s Legal Centre, Companion House, Women With Disabilities ACT, Community Services #1 and St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn.

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 Gemma Killen, Acting CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0404 024 913 or 02 6202 7200.

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