Media release: Fifty ambitious community Budget priorities

21 November 2019

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has outlined fifty priorities for the 2020-21 ACT Budget. ACTCOSS’s submission calls on the ACT Government to set out a responsible and progressive foundation for the future and to address unfinished business since the 2016 ACT election. The overarching theme of the ACTCOSS Budget Priorities is the need for adequate resourcing for community-based, non-government delivered services to meet community need.

Craig Wallace, ACTCOSS Policy Manager said, “We commended the last ACT Government Budget for choosing to be ambitious about investing to meet the needs of a growing city, especially when it comes to health, justice and community facilities provided by government.

“But the next ACT Budget needs to start being ambitious for non-government services in the community sector which is a growing share of the ACT economy and an employer with a proven track record in making key differences in people’s lives at the prevention and sub-acute end.

“Across all community services, further investment is needed in workforce development, community facilities, fleet, and ICT infrastructure that enables high quality, effective, accountable service provision. A major challenge currently confronting the community sector is an estimated gap of around 27% between funding and wage increases.

“This submission calls for greater investment to support Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander self-determination, including through funding housing provision by an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisation in the ACT. It calls for delivery and close community oversight of the promised housing investments including increasing our supply of low-income rental housing in the community housing sector.

“This city is changing all around us as a result of rapid development, population growth amidst the planning reviews and the transport integration. We need to invest in needs assessment work, prioritising community transport provision and community-led human service responses such as work to create harmonious neighbourhoods through community development.

“On the threshold of the new decade, Canberra is going to need vibrant human services in neighbourhoods, modern age-friendly community facilities in suburbs and green living infrastructure in urban centres to ensure this remains a city fit to live in and fit for all.

“Our ambition for the 2020-21 ACT Budget is that it will reset the ACT Government’s relationship as a reliable partner with the community sector responding to these and other changes. A key mechanism for achieving this is to commit to investment in the ACT Community Services Industry Strategy 2016-2026. This would include funding an in-depth community needs assessment that is sensitive to locational and demographic differences.

“The ACTCOSS submission outlines priority investments that can be made in 2020-21 to deliver on remaining ACT Government commitments from this term of government and lay important groundwork to respond effectively to the causes and consequences of deprivation and exclusion experienced by people in Canberra now and into the future. The ACTCOSS Budget Priorities focus on investing in prevention and early intervention and growing wellbeing for all who live in the ACT.

“In the coming period we will be issuing a focused and detailed assessment of the government’s delivery of 2016 commitments, but in the meantime this submission clearly sets out what investment is needed to deliver key elements of the government’s promise – in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander services, disability, education, environment, family and children’s services, health, housing, homelessness, justice, mental health, transport, and women’s services – to pursue the shared vision of Canberra as a place where all people reach their potential, make a contribution, and share the benefits of an inclusive and vibrant community.”

For more information or comment please contact

Craig Wallace, Policy Manager, ACTCOSS, on 0477 200 755 or 02 6202 7200.

Find ACTCOSS Budget Priorities 2020-21 online here.

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