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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 August 2021) . . Page.. 2183 ..

With three kids to feed, the only way that I can afford to get them vegetables at every meal and meat three times a week, and fruit to take to school, is to come to these places.

Women talked about the need for more support for local food-bank services, including community education to know where they are, how to access them and easier to access locations for people who do not drive.

Food relief is provided throughout Canberra by community organisations, including Communities@Work, Woden Community Service, Companion House, YWCA Canberra, Holy Cross Tuckerbox, Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation and many others.

In March 2020 the Canberra Relief Network was established to respond to an urgent food security need, and was extended until 30 June 2021, related to availability and affordability of food and basic household supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Canberra Relief Network has provided vital support to more than 2,800 Canberra households through delivery of more than 14,700 food hampers and more than 8,500 hygiene hampers, including baby items. While the economic impacts of the pandemic continue, the way in which we respond to the need for food relief is changing to reflect the barriers experienced by Canberrans who are struggling with affordability. Localised food relief from services people know and trust enables support not only for access to food but also connection to other supports that may be needed such as housing, mental health, family services and more.

In the weeks leading up to the closure of the Canberra Relief Network, people who contacted the CRN were given the details of how to receive food support through other community organisations after 30 June. Community partners were also provided information about the ceasing of the service and were reminded to ensure their clients knew they needed to seek alternative support services and where to find them. The CRN call centre phone number is still active and will be until the end of September so that anyone who contacts the service is able to be connected with a community organisation that can offer support.

Following the end of the Canberra Relief Network, the ACT government has been working with a network of community sector food-relief providers on ways we can improve food relief in the ACT long term. Strengthening food-relief services in the ACT includes ensuring autonomy for those accessing support such as the ability to choose what they access rather than being supplied with a standard box, multiple access points geographically as well as opening days and times, and linking food relief to other social services and supports.

I look forward to providing the Assembly with more details about long-term support for Canberra’s community sector food-relief providers as our work with the network progresses.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Sitting suspended from 12.20 to 2 pm.

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