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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 16 September 2021) . . Page.. 2640 ..

They do that because they are not motivated solely by income or working conditions. They do that because they are motivated by a sense of social justice. They do that because they are motivated to look after people who are doing it toughest. Their hard work and commitment during these particularly challenging times, when so many of those people are putting themselves in harm’s way—perhaps even risking infection themselves—to make sure that Canberrans do not miss out on the things they need to live a good and dignified life, is nothing short of extraordinary. I stand in solidarity with all people experiencing extreme hardship at this time. I promise that the ACT Greens will continue to work our hardest in government and from the crossbench to ensure that your views and your needs are represented in this place.

MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Seniors, Veterans, Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health and Minister for Mental Health) (4.14): I would like to thank Mr Davis for the opportunity to address this important issue today, and for his commitment to addressing social and economic inequality in everything that we do in this Assembly. As someone who has spent many years in the community sector, no-one would be surprised to hear that I am a strong advocate for the sector. The strength of my view has only increased over the past year.

The ACT is fortunate to have a strong community sector who provide vital services to so many people in our community. Recent times, though, have provided a live case study of their importance and, in so many respects, demonstrate what I have always known—that a strong and well-positioned community sector is simply indispensable in a modern human services system. Many of Canberra’s non-government organisations can move quickly to respond to challenges, have existing relationships of trust with their clients, and great community networks which can operationalise services quickly.

I would like to focus for a moment on a point that Mr Davis made in his motion. The global experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its health and economic impacts, has not created social inequality but it has been merciless in exposing and exacerbating those inequities. The people in our community who have been most impacted by the pandemic are those most likely to need the vital services that our community sector delivers.

That is why our local NGOs have been on the front line in supporting the ACT government’s response to COVID-19. They have been invaluable partners in delivering food relief, through assisting with meals in Housing ACT’s Condamine Court and Ainslie Village, phone and internet access, and activity packs to assist with the requirement to quarantine. Additionally, NGOs have been working closely with CSD to provide support to our multicultural community, particularly households quarantining due to a positive COVID contact.

I would like to give special thanks to Community Services #1, Communities@Work, St Vincent de Paul, Companion House and Multicultural Hub in particular. These are just a few examples of the many NGOs who are going above and beyond their contracted responsibilities to deliver services across the ACT.

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