The combined effects of the cost-of-living and climate crisis have continued to exert severe pressures on communities directly affected and the services that provide support. With surging prices for the essentials of food, energy and housing, government action to alleviate poverty is an immediate and urgent priority. Extreme weather events and rising temperatures have also led to devastating effects.
ACOSS has worked tirelessly with our members and people directly affected for action to reduce inequality and support those on lower incomes. We have achieved significant results. We played a key role in the Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme and endorsed the Commissioner’s recommendations to improve the income support system and ensure that people receiving income support are treated with dignity and respect.
Our collective advocacy has led to increases in Jobseeker, Rent Assistance and restoring the Parenting Payment to single parents whose youngest child is aged up to 14. Clearly, Jobseeker and Youth Allowance remain woefully inadequate and need to be urgently fixed and we will maintain our advocacy to that end. We secured $560 million in additional financial support for the community sector, and the establishment of the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee.
Our work with the UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership has expanded to include qualitative as well as quantitative research, under a refreshed governance and partnerships structure. We warmly thank all the Partners in this crucial work.
It was a privilege this year to welcome Hang Vo as new President. Hang is an outstanding sector leader. As the first queer person of colour to serve as ACOSS President, Hang has brought vision and governance experience to the role, as well as a deep commitment to inclusion, representation and social justice.
ACOSS’ work is made possible by the determination, expertise and commitment of the thousands of people on lower incomes who have led advocacy and called for change. I also warmly thank our National Members, the State and Territory Councils of Social Service, and the many other friends and partners who provide invaluable support as well as to the ACOSS Board of Directors and staff.
Finally, my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues with whom I have the privilege to work. The ACOSS staff are deeply committed to our work, and I am grateful every day for all they do.