Anti-Poverty Week 2020: Affordable housing and welfare safety net key to tackling poverty in ACT

12 October 2020

This week, 11-17 October 2020, is Anti-Poverty Week.

Anti-Poverty Week 2020 is partnering with the Everybody’s Home campaign to call for affordable housing for all; and with ACOSS’s Raise the Rate campaign to ensure that unemployment payments never go back to $40 a day.

Barnie van Wyk, CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn and Co-Chair of the ACT Anti-Poverty Week 2020 Committee said: “The ACT has the highest average weekly earnings in Australia. But amidst the prosperity, significant poverty exists in the ACT.

“Approximately 30,000 Canberrans live below the poverty line. For those on low incomes, the cost of living in Canberra means many cannot afford the fundamentals of a healthy life such as food, housing, health services, and energy.

“With 1,600 Canberrans experiencing homelessness, 2,500 applicants on the social housing waiting list, and 9,500 low-income households in rental stress there is an urgent need to address the shortfall of over 3,000 social housing dwellings in the ACT.

“Ensuring affordable housing for all is essential to reducing poverty in our community,” said Mr van Wyk.

Anti-Poverty Week 2020 is also highlighting the importance of a decent welfare safety net for those who face unemployment. The COVID-19 crisis has seen the number of Canberrans looking for work and in need of income support more than double.

Jenny Kitchin, CEO of Woden Community Service and Co-Chair of the ACT Anti-Poverty Week 2020 Committee said: “The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) ACT Cost of Living Report found that up until the 24 September, the Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight had seen 23,000 Canberrans’ income rise above the poverty line.

“The recent reduction of the supplement by $300 per fortnight has seen payments return below the poverty line.

“Removing the supplement completely from 1 January 2021 could see the number of people living in poverty in the ACT increase from 30,000 to 40,000.

“Returning JobSeeker to around $40 a day will trap people in extreme poverty forced to make choices between putting food on the table or cover rent, medical bills and other basic expenses,

“This Anti-Poverty Week we are calling for a permanent and adequate increase to JobSeeker and related income support payments.

“We need to fix our social security system for good so that it keeps people out of poverty, with an income of $500 per week for a single person,” said Ms Kitchin.

Mr van Wyk continued: “We encourage all Canberrans to get involved in Anti-Poverty Week 2020. To find out more and to learn how you can support action to reduce poverty nationally and in your local community, visit the Anti-Poverty Week website.

“We also invite the Canberra community to join some of Canberra’s leading voices as they discuss achievable measures to reducing poverty and homelessness at an online forum being held via Facebook on Wednesday 14 October 2020.”

The event details are provided below.

For more information or comment, please contact [email protected] or 0417 836 494

Reducing Poverty & Homelessness in the ACT: Anti-Poverty Week 2020

When: Wednesday 14 October 2020, 12.30pm to 1.30pm

Where: Online – Watch Live at

Register your interest at: or

Please submit questions in advance to: [email protected]

Authorised by Emma Campbell for the ACT Council of Social Service.

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