Media release: ACT Community Sector CEOs come together to launch 2021 Anti-Poverty Week

18 October 2021

Leaders from across the ACT community and business sectors came together today to launch 2021 Anti-Poverty Week (APW) and to call for action to be taken to end poverty. During the launch, CEOs representing organisations working with local children and families highlighted the ongoing challenges faced by Canberrans living below the poverty line. Representatives from the private sector also joined the launch to remind us that poverty’s impact ripples across our economy and society and that measures to tackle poverty can bring positive economic benefits.

Co-chair ACT APW and ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “As a result of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, rates of poverty have increased and inequality persists in our community. This APW we are reminding all governments that there are two key things they can do to reduce poverty for individuals, families and children: raise income support above the poverty line and invest in social housing. We are also encouraging Canberrans to support the local community organisations supporting those in the ACT impacted by poverty and disadvantage by donating through Hands Across Canberra.”

Co-chair ACT APW and Woden Community Service CEO, Jenny Kitchin said: “In the ACT, poverty is often hidden behind high averages and the relative wealth of the ACT compared to other jurisdictions. Yet here in the ACT, 38,000 people are living in poverty including 9,000 children. During anti-poverty week we will be asking Canberrans to reflect about poverty and disadvantage on our own doorstep and what we can do to make a change through a range of events.”

To coincide with APW, ACTCOSS has released its updated ACT Poverty Factsheet. Factsheet: Poverty and COVID-19 in the ACT | ACT Council of Social Service Inc. (

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

The 2021 ACT Anti-Poverty Week is convened by Co-Chairs Jenny Kitchin, CEO Woden Community Service and Dr Emma Campbell, CEO ACT Council of Social Service. It is 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.

This year the 2021 ACT Anti-Poverty Week Committee gratefully received a grant from the ACT Government to support APW activities.

This year we are partnering with Hands Across Canberra to encourage donations to ACT community organisations. Can you add in Donate here:

Quotes from leaders from the ACT community, business and property sectors:

Peter Gordon, CEO of Hands Across Canberra: “This year we are proud to partner with the 2021 ACT Anti-Poverty Week campaign. Canberrans are known for their generosity and willingness to support others in their local community. There are many ways you can contribute to Hands Across Canberra and its network of community organisations. You can give your time and talent through volunteering, attending events, spreading the word about the work of organisations, or running fund-raising events and activities. There are also a range of ways to donate funds, such as directly through one-off donations, regular contributions such as workplace giving programs or by participating in fund-raising activities and events.”

Adina Cirson, ACT Executive Director, Property Council of Australia: “We are proud to support Anti-Poverty Week, noting that house prices and rents are some of the highest in the nation here in Canberra. Appropriate and affordable housing provides a pathway out of Poverty, it improves people’s health & wellbeing and critically provides the stability they need to thrive. We join in the call for greater investment in social housing in Canberra.”

Jeremy Halcrow, CEO, Anglicare NSW South, NSW West & ACT: “Anglicare’s mission is to alleviate poverty in the ACT region and beyond, through a broad range of services. We particularly focus on critical life transition points such as in the pre-school years and when young people are entering the workforce. We see Anti-Poverty Week as a tremendous opportunity for organisations like ours across Canberra to come together and highlight issues that are most affecting people in need, and to advocate for system changes that will ensure a fairer society and that all people are given an opportunity to thrive and live their lives to the fullest”.

Sue Webeck, CEO, Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT: “In the ACT, women are disproportionately impacted by poverty. Low incomes and a lack of access to safe and affordable housing is a significant barrier to escaping domestic and family violence. In Australia, sole parent families have the highest poverty rates, at 35%. Children in sole parent families, with a poverty rate of 44%, are more than three time as likely to live in poverty as children in couple families, who have a poverty rate of 13%.”

Graham Catt, CEO, Canberra Business Chamber: “Most Canberra businesses are small and family operations, run by real people who care about their community. Breaking the cycle of poverty means people can spend on the goods and services they need. That creates local jobs, improving social outcomes and delivers economic growth for all of us.”

Michelle Colefax, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn: “Over the past year, Vinnies has supported more than 40,000 vulnerable people experiencing poverty. This need is only growing. For people on low incomes, the cost of living in Canberra means many cannot afford the basics such as food, housing, clothing, and energy. This Anti-Poverty Week, Vinnies Canberra/Goulburn will be encouraging the Federal Government to increase Jobseeker and other income support payments and invest in social housing to ensure families have food on the table and a roof over their head.”

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

For more information or comment, please contact

Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.

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