Anti-Poverty Week 2021 Recap

2 November 2021

This year, Anti-Poverty Week (APW) was held across Australia from 17 to 23 October 2021. The week focused on reminding governments that there are two key things they can do to reduce poverty for individuals, families and children: raising the rate of income support above the poverty line and investing in social housing.

In the ACT, events and initiatives were organised to call attention to the hidden poverty in the Territory. Canberrans were asked to reflect on poverty, inequality and disadvantage on our doorstep and take action to make change.

We acknowledge the financial support provided by the ACT Government for this year’s 2021 ACT Anti-Poverty Week.


Through a partnership with the RiotACT, 4 content articles were published focusing on APW, including interviews with Dr Emma Campbell (ACTCOSS), Jenny Kitchin, Andrew Hannan, Peter Gordon and Jeremy Halcrow. Emma Campbell was also featured in a video news update with APW Ambassador Genevieve Jacobs AM. The partnership produced a reach of thousands of people per post, in addition to a huge number of readers impressions via a site wide banner, social media posts and shares. Peter Gordon and Emma Campbell both also had interviews on 2CC regarding the events and significance of Anti-Poverty Week. Emma also spoke with Canberra FM, ABC Canberra and WIN News spotlighting APW. Numerous organisations marked APW with social media posts and shares.

APW Launch

On Monday we officially launched ACT Anti-Poverty Week 2021! We began with a video message from the ACT’s Chief Minister, Andrew Barr MLA who highlighted the importance of raising federal income support. CEOs from across the Canberra community sector and private sector gathered to discuss the scale and consequences of poverty in the region at a media conference chaired by APW Ambassador Genevieve Jacobs, with an excellent Welcome to Country from Aunty Violet Sheridan. We heard testimonials from CEOs working with those living in poverty and ACT APW Co-Chairs Emma Campbell and Jenny Kitchin.

Jeremy Halcrow (CEO of Anglicare ACT) shared the story of ‘Kim’, a 14-year-old carer who sometimes has nothing to eat because her mother’s Disability Support Pension is not enough to feed her and her little brother. Peter Gordon (CEO of Hands Across Canberra) reminded us that “It’s not safe until we’re all safe, we can’t be well off until we’re all well off”. Sue Webeck (CEO DVCS) highlighted the dire situation of families and individuals facing domestic violence and poverty at the same time. Michelle Colefax (CEO Vinnies) shared that food insecurity for single parent families has been by far the greatest issue people require support with, noting a “62% increase in the number of requests for assistance compared with last year”.

The conversation also centred the significance of community housing as a tool for poverty alleviation. Adina Cirson (CEO ACT Property Council) highlighted that “the housing crisis is really here right here and now” – the ACT has the highest rents and lowest vacancy rates in the country – and reminded us that “secure housing is the first step out of poverty”. Graham Catt (CEO Canberra Business Chamber) echoed this sentiment saying that “[housing] helps infrastructure, creates jobs”, it creates “a community where people can afford to live, where there is equity”. Adina Cirson also reminded us of the dual benefit of government support for social housing: “we know that investment in social housing is one of the greatest economic stimulators.”

Art Competition

In advance of APW, the ACT Anti-Poverty Week Youth Art Competition welcomed submissions of art from ACT Youth 18 years and under. The theme of the APW Art Competition was “Hopes for My Future” and we received 26 incredible entries from young Canberrans. All entrants were rewarded for their creative and thoughtful submissions with gift cards to an arts and crafts store.

During APW, the public was able to vote for their favourite artworks in the competition online and the three artists voted most popular received larger prizes. Over 2,000 votes were submitted over the course of the week. The three winners were; ‘Moving Forward’ by JB, ‘Hopes and Dreams’ by ZH and ‘BFF’ by JT.

Congratulations to the Winners of the Art Competition as well as all the participants! All of the submissions were incredible and demonstrated so much hopefulness for the future.

'Moving forward' by JB'Hopes and Dreams' by ZH'BFF' by JT

All of the fantastic entries to the APW Art Competition are available here (pdf).

Take 10 to Talk about Poverty

Throughout APW we encouraged workplaces, family and friends across the ACT to take part by taking ten minutes to talk about poverty, chat about disadvantage on our doorstep and what we can do to make change. This event was a collaboration with Hands Across Canberra and included an opportunity to donate to local organisations.

See Hands Across Canberra’s Take 10 to Talk about Poverty page.

Genevieve Jacobs in Conversation with Hugh Mackay

At lunch time on Wednesday ACTCOSS livestreamed a pre-recorded interview between ACT Anti-Poverty Week Ambassador Genevieve Jacobs and social researcher Hugh on Facebook. We invited people to watch it together and join the live chat. People joined to watch the pair have a riveting conversation about poverty, inequality and a variety of other areas of interest.

Watch the interview in your own time.

Lighting up Canberra

The National Carillon was lit up blue for the evenings of Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd of October to acknowledge the end of Anti-Poverty Week 2021. Telstra Tower was also lit blue on Thursday 21st.

The colour blue was chosen in line with the lighting up of monuments across Australia to symbolise a brighter future of hope particularly for children living in poverty and raise awareness for APW.

Telstra Tower and Carillion lit up blue.

Education Content

In advance of APW, education content produced nationally on the Cool Australian online platform (Poverty and Inequality in Australia – Primary Lessons and Poverty and Inequality in Australia – Secondary lessons) was distributed to the Education Directorate, Education Minister, local organisations and schools across Canberra for teachers to use during and after APW.


As part of APW this year we promoted the messaging of calling on the ACT and federal governments to unlock poverty for millions of Australians by raising income support above the poverty line and investing in social housing.‚ÄØ We supported and shared the Everybody’s Home and Raise the Rate for Good campaigns and promoted a‚ÄØpetition‚ÄØcalling on Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to increase the base rate of working age income support payments to at least $65 a day, to invest in social and affordable housing and increase rent assistance payments by 50%.

More Information

For more information and resources on 2021 APW you can go to the ACT’s Anti-Poverty Week 2021 page which lists all the events that took place. For information on events that occurred in other jurisdictions and the national campaign visit the national Anti-Poverty Week website.

The 2021 ACT Anti-Poverty Week was convened by Co-Chairs Jenny Kitchin, CEO, Woden Community Service, and Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACT Council of Social Service. It was supported by an Executive Committee with representatives from Canberra Community Law, YWCA Canberra, Relationships Australia Canberra & Region, St Vincent De Paul Society Canberra and Goulburn, Woden Community Service and ACTCOSS.

We hope you will consider participating again next year!

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