Page 3119 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 October 2022

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This budget also contributes just over $3 million over three years to assist the ACT’s community legal assistance sector to respond to a recommendation of the Our Booris, Our Way report by establishing a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander care and protection legal advocacy service. This builds on the 2021-22 government initiative of community sector partnerships, community legal assistance sector support, which provided funding to ensure that these organisations are able to maintain service delivery levels.

This budget also includes nearly $700,000 over four years to continue to support the SafeHome Program, which improves security for households in the ACT that are victims of or vulnerable to home burglary. This initiative contributes to wellbeing and safety and I think is a very practical program. For people who have been victims and therefore have a sense of fear or have a loss of sense of security, this is a very practical program that helps them physically modify their homes to improve security.

It is one of those things that really make a difference to people who cannot afford to make those modifications themselves. Perhaps they have not been able to do them in the past. Through either having been a victim or for a range of factors they are considered vulnerable, and to get that really direct and tangible support can help them feel more safe and secure and therefore improve their quality of life.

The budget also invests in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, or ACAT as it is commonly known, to undertake the first phase of a new client interface system that will enable ACAT to provide better and more timely assistance to customers in financial hardship and under threat of disconnection of their utility service. That is just over $600,000. This is, again, a really important area of work that supports some of the most vulnerable Canberrans. ACAT does have a very important function in this space of working with people who are at threat of disconnection. It works with the utility and the client to make sure that they do not face that disconnection and have a payment plan in place or various other options that can be delivered. This is really about empowering people and working with them to make sure they continue to get those essential services delivered at their residence.

The budget provides $331,000 to continue support for the resourcing of the legislation, policy and programs division of the Justice and Community Safety Directorate, enabling them to drive the government’s law reform agenda. This initiative continues the funding provided in the 2021-22 budget to strengthen policy development and make sure that we have the staff. There are many demands, both from the government and also arising through this place, to look at a range of policy questions. JACS are a very busy agency. They answer to a number of ministers and they have a lot of different responsibilities. This line item is particularly about increasing their capability to get that work done and to make sure that the government is able to respond to the many issues that arise in the JACS policy space.

There is also money set aside for both JACS and Access Canberra—in total $1.465 million—to undertake further discovery and design work to support the introduction of $5 bet limits and $100 load-up limits on electronic gaming machines in the ACT, building on the government’s ongoing work to reduce harm from gaming while supporting sustainable clubs.

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