Under the ACT 2021-22 Budget, $475,000 over four years will fund long term solutions for food sustainability across Canberra beyond lockdown.
The funding will support the transition of the Canberra Relief Network (CRN) to a community-led model for a more streamlined and needs-driven response to food security.
Minister responsible for Emergency Relief and Community Recovery Emma Davidson said that long term food sustainability is a key priority for the ACT Government to ensure that all Canberrans, no matter their individual circumstance, have access to food and can live with dignity.
“Our community sector is incredible at supporting the needs of Canberrans. This measure places trust in the work they do, providing food relief organisations with additional resources to increase their capacity to support people in need,” Minister Davidson said.
“Through the development of a sector database, our community food relief organisations will be better placed to respond to the community through a centralised food distribution model which can link people with other services to support their needs.
“Until JobSeeker is permanently raised to at least $80 a day, many Canberrans will need this additional support so they can live with dignity; with more meals, improving their health outcomes and improving their living standards.”
The funding boost follows immediate, short-term efforts by the ACT Government to provide food relief – alongside community partners – to Canberrans most in need during lockdown, such as people who are older, have a disability and are in quarantine.
The ACT Government collaborated with Volunteering ACT and the Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) to deliver the CRN. Volunteering ACT supports the Connect Centre which take calls from Canberrans seeking support, while DRA are managing daily deliveries, taking over from SES volunteers who stepped up to manage this in the initial stage of lockdown.
As of 1 October 2021, Volunteering ACT had received a total of 3,553 calls. The CRN has supported the provision of:
- 1,226 Woolworths Online orders
- 1,923 standard food hampers
- 49 gluten free food hampers
- 505 standard hygiene hampers
- 584 hygiene + sanitary hampers, and
- 312 occasions of support for baby items (nappies and baby wipes)
CEO of Disaster Relief Australia Geoffrey Evans said: “As a veteran led organisation, DRA members stand waiting on the front line ready to answer the call. The COVD pandemic is no exception. This year our volunteers have assisted bushfire affected communities in Eurobodalla and Bega Shires and then flood affected communities in the Mid North Coast of NSW. Our volunteers have integrated seamlessly within the government initiative ready to deliver hope where it’s needed most.”
About Canberra Relief Network
The ACT Government established the CRN in March 2020 to ensure Canberrans would have access to regular household and food supplies during the pandemic.
Following ACT lockdown announcement on 12 August 2021, the Canberra Food Relief Centre re-commenced operations in late August from Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC). An interim Woolworths online model was in place from 13 August, until the first orders from EPIC were sent out on 30 August. The CRN will continue to run until mid-December 2021.
For further information on emergency food relief services, visit: communityservices.act.gov.au/connect-in-canberra/Community-Services-and-Support
About Disaster Relief Australia
Disaster Relief Australia unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders and civilians to rapidly deploy disaster relief teams in Australia and around the world. Disaster Relief Australia is a not-for-profit organisation offering veterans a chance to continue their service by helping and empowering those afflicted by disasters, and themselves. Programs and services are made possible by the support of individual donors, corporate partners, and the dedication of volunteers across the country. To join or support visit disasterreliefaus.org