Media release: Election 2020: Mixed verdict on community services

14 October 2020

As the ACT election enters its final week, the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today delivered an assessment on funding promises for Canberra’s community service sector.

ACTCOSS’s community services sector election brief, released in August, called for increased funding following an analysis of community need and the increased costs of delivering community services. The brief also called for a commitment to revitalising procurement; a renewed commitment to the ACT Social Compact; funding for capital investments; proper resourcing of all ACT Government ‘strategies’ and ‘plans’; and a commitment to properly fund peak body and advocacy organisations.

ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell said: “Every day, Canberrans rely on our community service organisations to provide aged care, disability support, community transport, support for carers, childcare, drug and alcohol services, support for children and young people, emergency relief and a whole range of other critical work.

“The ACT’s population is increasing, older Canberrans make up a growing percentage of the ACT’s residents and the number of births is increasing. All these factors lead to higher demand for community services.

“The health care and social assistance sector is the second largest employment sector in the ACT.

“Investment in community services not only provides support to those who are vulnerable, but also drives our local economy by creating jobs and economic growth.

“Neither party contending for government has fully recognised the importance of the ACT community sector in ensuring that everyone is able to enjoy the benefits of living in Canberra.

“However, we welcome the Canberra Liberals’ announcement of a Poverty Taskforce that we believe will highlight the need for additional funding and support for the community services sector.

“We also acknowledge ACT Labor’s commitment, when in government, to continue the payment of a supplement enabling community service organisations to maintain current pay levels for workers as set out in the Equal Remuneration Order (ERO).

“The ACT Greens’ comprehensive community policy is very encouraging. We are pleased that the ACT Greens have recognised that investment in community services is also an investment in the Canberra economy.

“We look forward to the inclusion of these commitments in any parliamentary agreement should the ACT Greens share power with an incoming government.

“ACTCOSS will work closely with an incoming government to ensure the work of community sector organisations is properly valued and that all Canberrans can access a fair share of resources, services and opportunities,” said Dr Campbell.

A summary of published party commitments currently represented in the ACT Legislative Assembly relating to the community services sector is provided below:

Canberra Liberals

The Canberra Liberals have committed to work cooperatively with the community services sector to identify ways the government can reduce operating costs and time spent dealing with bureaucracy. The Canberra Liberals state they will provide funding consistent with increases in CPI and population growth and will review additional funding requirements based on recommendations from the Poverty Task Force.

ACT Labor

While announced prior to caretaker, the ACT Government has committed to maintain current pay levels for community sector workers as set out in the Equal Remuneration Order (ERO). ACT Labor’s Policy Position (pdf) commits to support and fund community services so that those services can support us.

ACT Greens

The ACT Greens have committed to a suite of community sector promises including: a comprehensive analysis of increased needs and costs of salaries and operation; more funding and funding certainty; capital investments including ICT and electric vehicles; support for peak bodies and advocacy organisations; and a gender-led economic recovery through investment in the community services sector. They have also promised to establish a Community Recovery Cabinet.

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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