Media release: Prioritising the community sector essential for economic recovery, gender equality

7 April 2021

Following yesterday’s meeting of the Morrison Government’s women’s cabinet taskforce and today’s meeting of federal, state and territory ministers for women’s safety, the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has written to the Chief Minister, Andrew Barr MLA, to urge him to promote gender equity through the ACT’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell, said: “Economic security is a necessity for gender equity and women’s safety. Research recently published by the Grattan Institute underscored the disproportionate economic impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on women. Not only are women more likely to have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced during the pandemic, but they are also more likely to remain underemployed.

“It is therefore essential that a gender lens is applied to the ACT’s COVID-19 economic recovery plans.

“The community sector is a major employer of women, and yet has been largely overlooked in the ACT’s economic recovery. This is despite investment in the sector paying dividends, with 1% of GDP invested in care work predicted to increase direct, indirect and induced employment by 1.7%, compared to about 0.9% for the same investment in construction.

“Investing in care and community industries has a dual benefit – it not only creates jobs for women, but also lightens their unpaid workload through the provision of childcare and other caring supports, allowing women to take up employment in other sectors.

“Plans should also include a critical examination of funding for domestic and family violence services in the ACT including legal centres, refuges, sexual violence crisis and advocacy services, and other supports for women and children. ACTCOSS has received reports of increased demand for these services in the wake of COVID-19.

“This is a key opportunity for the ACT Government to redress the balance within the ACT by applying a gender-specific lens to its economic recovery planning. There is a strong evidence-based argument that hearty investment in the community sector will not only strengthen the ACT economy and increase women’s economic participation, but also protect some of the most vulnerable Canberrans. It is therefore crucial that a strong community sector voice is included on the Chief Minister’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Advisory Group (CERAG).

“ACTCOSS urges the Chief Minister to prioritise gender equity in the ACT’s economic recovery planning, and to capitalise on the investment potential of the community sector,” 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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