ACOSS welcomes vital financial assistance for community services as a positive and necessary first step

ACOSS warmly welcomes the Federal Government’s commitment of financial assistance to community services experiencing extreme cost pressures.

In Tuesday’s Budget, the Government will provide $560 million over four years to essential community services to ensure they can continue helping people and communities in need.

Funding will be allocated to relevant departments including the Department of Social Services and the National Indigenous Australians Agency to pass on to various service providers.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said the extra funding would give essential community services a lifeline as they battle soaring inflation and increased demand.

“For almost a decade, community services have been chronically under-funded,” she said.

“These services have been at the frontline of Australia’s response to fires, floods and the pandemic during the past three years.

“The surge in demand from the community in recent years, combined with escalating inflation and wage pressures, have pushed the sector to breaking point.

“Many ACOSS members were distraught about the prospect of reducing services or cutting staff hours because of cost.

“This latest commitment from the Federal Government is a great response for our sector and a welcomed first step in strengthening its financial viability, ensuring that community organisations across the country can continue helping people who are struggling.

“Our services are vital to community wellbeing. Our staff – about 80 per cent of whom are women – are on the frontline every day helping others. We must ensure that these essential services can respond to the latest emergencies with staff who are respected and adequately paid.”

Senior Advisor for Community Services, Rob Sturrock said ACOSS stands ready to help the government implement the policy.

“We are very pleased to see the government begin delivering on one of its election commitments in its first budget,” he said.

“We greatly look forward to assisting in the scheme’s implementation, making sure it is as effective and beneficial for community service providers as possible.

“While this measure will provide substantial support in the short-term, we will continue to advocate for government to improve the level of investment in community services, making the case for public funding based on population need.

“Australia is stuck in a cycle of responding to a series of disasters such as the current flooding emergencies.

“People experiencing poverty, disadvantage and hardship will continue to struggle to rebuild their lives unless community services are sustainably and transparently funded to fully support them over the long-term.”