Media release: Federal Budget: increased funding for essential services but little action on underlying inequality

11 May 2021

ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) said tonight that despite providing much needed extra funding for community services, the Federal Budget has failed to invest in social housing and to support people on low incomes.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “After many years of austerity and the COVID-19 health and economic crisis we are at last seeing investment in care services including aged care, mental health, child care and domestic violence services.

“The long-overdue investment in community services will contribute to fixing major gaps in care and supporting growing numbers of vulnerable Canberrans. It will also generate crucial jobs, overwhelmingly for women.

“While we welcome the expansion of training and local jobs programs for people who are unemployed, there are still over 10,000 people on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance payments in the ACT – 1.5 times higher than before the pandemic. JobSeeker is just $44 a day, and Youth Allowance even less – well below the poverty line.

“So far the government has given around $20 billion dollars in personal tax cuts to people already in paid jobs for the next financial year, plus tens of billions in business tax incentives.

“But there is not a single cent more to people living in deep poverty, including women on low incomes. It also introduces new waiting times for migrants to access social security payments with serious consequences for individuals and families who find themselves out of work or facing other crisis situations.

“Most disappointing is the failure to invest in social housing to address the ACT’s current housing crisis. Canberra continues to have a shortfall of 3,000 social houses with 1,600 people experiencing homeless every day. Homelessness is predicted to increase by 7.8% this year.

“Yet, the federal government has – once again – missed an opportunity to ensure that all Australians have safe and secure housing and to provide a boost to the economy. For every $1 million invested in social housing, GDP is boosted by $1.3 million.

“ACTCOSS will closely follow response to the Budget from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander organisations. We note investments in a number of health initiatives but echo the frustration of the First Nations-led Justice Coalition, Change the Record, about the lack of investment in First Nations-focused services including family violence prevention services, investment to reduce the Aboriginal deaths in custody crisis, and investment to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families have access to the support and services they need.

“We also share disappointment of disability representative organisations that we have not seen funding to extend the Disability Royal Commission in the face of difficult circumstances especially COVID-19.

“Overall, the Budget lifts essential services but leaves too many vulnerable Canberrans stranded. It does nothing to address the severe shortage of social housing or raise social security payments above the poverty line. If we’re serious about a sustainable recovery and addressing inequality we must address these fundamental issues,” Dr Campbell concluded.

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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