Poverty task force is a step backwards


Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, with responsibility for Community Recovery and Emergency Relief, Emma Davidson said that the Opposition’s motion for a poverty task force would delay action and divert resources from initiatives that address the root causes of poverty in the ACT.

“In partnership with the community, the ACT Government has developed a wealth of knowledge and robust longitudinal research which identifies the causes of poverty in Canberra and practical solutions,” Minister Davidson said.

“For this reason, today the Government has opposed the Opposition’s call for us to divert resources to duplicate existing research and delay action.

“I take my obligation as Minister seriously; my job is to make sure help is available to those who need it. That does not mean putting aside decades of progress and understanding of poverty and the policy responses to set up yet another inquiry.

“Through the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement this government has made many commitments to address poverty in Canberra, including a plan to review and increase funding for the community sector to account for our growing population, demand, complexity of community needs and costs of service delivery.

“Our initiatives reflect extensive consultation with the community sector, who see the impacts of poverty every day and understand its root causes. The ACT Government is taking steps towards a nuanced understanding of the intersecting causes of poverty, including the relationships between poverty and health, gender, violence, and issues affecting First Nations community members.

“I’m committed to a Green Jobs Package, one that creates secure and meaningful work across all industries, benefits our community and addresses inequalities in the ACT such as equal pay for women.

“I am proud to be part of a government that established the Jobs for Canberrans program and the Canberra Relief Network to support many Canberrans through the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important that we continue to provide support and identify gaps where people haven’t been able to access the help they need.”

Minister Davidson stressed that the big levers controlling poverty in Canberra are held by the Morrison Government, calling for increasing welfare payments, funding primary healthcare through the Medicare Benefits Scheme and funding for the Specialist Homelessness Sector.

“The Federal Government has control of many programs and schemes which significantly impact the extent of poverty and social inclusion in Canberra,” Minister Davidson said.

“The ACT Government delivered for our community, doing what we could to supplement inadequate Commonwealth solutions.  I can assure Canberrans that the ACT Government will act on what we already know and continue to provide support services to assist people in need.

“That is why today Chief Minister Barr moved that all three parties co-sign a letter to the Morrison Government, calling on them to revoke their decision to throw almost 20,000 Canberrans into poverty by ending the JobSeeker supplement.”