The ACT Government will make significant investments in the 2021-22 ACT Budget to support our city through one of the toughest moments we have ever faced.
Today’s $26 million package ensures that those most in need in our community will continue to receive support as we respond to our local outbreak of the COVID-19 virus as well as in the years to follow.
As we progress through the National Plan to Transition Australia’s COVID-19 response, this package is a further element of our response to ensure that no one is left behind.
The package includes:
- $8.6 million over three years to expand the capacity of existing services including specialist homelessness programs that commenced operation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- $4.0 million over four years to increase the community sector indexation rate applied to annual grants funding. This will assist community organisations to help them meet higher wage costs following the recent Fair Work Commission decision to increase the national minimum wage and all award wages by 2.5 per cent.
- Additional funding of $3.5 million over four years to local volunteer groups to help maintain and improve our iconic landscape. More funding will also be allocated to expand the ACT Environment Grants and to fund an additional ParkCare ranger in Canberra’s north.
- $2.5 million over the next four years to maintain and strengthen Legal Aid’s capacity to represent, support and assist vulnerable members of the Canberra community. This includes front-line service support for victims of family violence and the elderly, and for vulnerable witnesses.
- $2.2 million over the next four years for a culturally appropriate program to focus on suicide prevention, intervention, postvention and aftercare tailored for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans.
- $2.0 million over four years to support crucial services delivered by the Community Legal Assistance Sector including the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT, Canberra Community Law, CARE Inc, the Environmental Defenders Office, and the Women’s Legal Centre ACT.
- $762,000 over four years to allow the Children and Young People Equipment Loan Service (CAYPELS) to continue and to develop a service planning model to inform the future operation of the service. It will also allow for the purchase and replenishment of specialised paediatric equipment.
- Additional funding of $623,000 over four years for A Gender Agenda to continue their work with vulnerable trans, gender diverse and intersex Canberrans. This includes peer support, intersex specific project work and the peer-based navigation and information service, The Friday Centre.
- $570,000 to support vulnerable people in the multicultural community, including an additional $180,000 for the Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Humanitarian program to provide financial assistance for its clients who hold an ACT Services Access Card and to support the resettlement of refugees, asylum seekers and humanitarian entrants living in the ACT; $137,000 for emergency, material and aid services; $135,000 to support COVID-19 messaging; and $118,000 to support a community partnership to provide emergency payments to vulnerable families.
- $509,000 for the pandemic response team to continue implementing the ACT Government Community Recovery Roadmap. This initiative builds on recent Government actions in this area including the 2020-21 Health COVID-19 Response initiative.
- $311,000 to end adverse experiences of young First Nations people in the ACT child protection system by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Commissioner.
- Funding of $184,000 in 2021-22 to develop a model of care for five additional supported accommodation homes to support people living with enduring mental illness to live safely and well in the community.
- An additional $100,000 to support ongoing access to emergency food relief for those in need.
This package follows the COVID-19 economic support measures that have been previously announced which included increased funding for mental health supports, crisis and emergency supports, extending the Jobs for Canberrans program, emergency food relief and increasing the utilities concession to $1,000 for 31,000 households for 2021-22.
Further announcements will be made as we approach the 2021-22 Budget on 6 October.
Quotes attributable to Chief Minister Andrew Barr:
We know the pandemic is difficult for many families and individuals in the community. This is why the government is continuing to work very closely with community organisations across a range of sectors.
This additional funding through the 2021-22 ACT Budget, combined with our close relationships with our community partners, will help deliver support to Canberrans that need it most.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Housing and Suburban Development and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Yvette Berry:
The impact of the pandemic is not gender neutral, and the ACT Government is committed to ensuring that women and girls in the Canberra community are safe and supported.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Community Services, Rachel Stephen-Smith:
The Government welcomes the Fair Work Commission’s decision, which will deliver better wages for Canberra’s dedicated community sector workers. Supporting our non-government partners to pay these wage increases without reducing the services they provide to the ACT community is particularly important at this difficult time.
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General, Shane Rattenbury:
It is important for everyone in the community to be able to access appropriate legal assistance and advice. The 2021-22 funding through the ACT Budget will provide front-line service support for victims of family violence and the elderly and support for vulnerable witnesses.
The additional funding for Community Legal Assistance Sector services and Legal Aid will allow these important community services to continue to deliver legal assistance services and maintain and strengthen the capacity to represent, support and assist vulnerable members of the community.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Tara Cheyne:
The Government will continue to support the Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Humanitarian (RASH) program through a $120,000 investment, providing financial assistance of up to $2,000 for RASH clients who hold an ACT Services Access Card, supporting the resettlement of refugees, asylum seekers and humanitarian entrants living in the ACT.
Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister for Seniors, Veterans, Families and Community Services and Mental Health, Emma Davidson:
Everyone in our community deserve access to mental health support. The pandemic and lockdowns will exacerbate the need for mental health services in our community. This is just one announcement in the ACT Government’s mental health Budget which aims to provide specialised, culturally safe support for First Nations people experiencing mental and emotional distress.
Recognising the need for long-term food security, we have committed funding to increase capacity and resources across Canberra’s food relief organisations. This complements the immediate COVID-19 food relief response, providing a response in both the short term and long term as we progress through and beyond the pandemic.
Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment and Homelessness and Housing Services, Rebecca Vassarotti:
Canberra’s specialist homelessness sector are key to improve outcomes for people in need. This investment boosts resources for sector organisations, raising their base funding rate by 12.7 percent. This base funding rate has not increased over approximately the past nine years, so this is a significant commitment to help the sector deliver early intervention, crisis support and improve outcomes for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
This funding builds on recent investments including $1.9 million in the 2020-21 Budget for five specialist homelessness programs in response to COVID-19 as part of the Government’s commitment to increase the capacity of the sector.
The Canberra community plays a critical role in caring for the ACT’s environment. Organisations such as Landcare ACT, Parkcare, the three ACT catchment groups, and ACT Wildlife are local experts providing care for our environment. Providing reliable, long-term funding for Canberra’s community local environmental volunteer-based groups will allow groups will help them continue their valuable work caring for ACT’s environment.