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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 October 2021) . . Page.. 2775 ..

surprised some parents were to get an email on 5 October saying that students were not to come back?

MS BERRY: Well, I am one of those parents and so I know the correspondence that went out to year 12 students. And the correspondence that went out indicated that unless you needed to do an assessment at school you did not need to come back to school and you could continue your education remotely.

Canberra—cost of living

MR DAVIS: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, Canberra is a wealthy city, but too many among us are slipping through the cracks and living in poverty. According to ACTCOSS, more than 38,000 Canberrans are currently living in poverty. What is the ACT government doing to eliminate poverty in Canberra and ensure that nobody is left behind?

MR BARR: I thank Mr Davis for the question. There are a range of policy responses that support those on the lowest incomes in the ACT, from public housing through to free public education and public health provision, as well as assistance through a range of concessions.

I have already announced an increase in the utilities concession for 31,000 low-income households in the ACT, to increase that to $1,000 a year. That is a $300 increase over the previous year’s concession. We have also provided, through significant investment across multiple budgets, increased support for community sector organisations who provide support for lower income Canberrans. And across other areas of government service delivery—be that public transport, or be it in areas within the Community Services Directorate or Justice and Community Safety—where there are either zero or low-fee options to access particular services and supports, the ACT government plays its part in addressing income inequality.

But the single biggest determinant, clearly, is the level of income support that is provided. One thing that we saw last year was tens of thousands of people lifted out of poverty when the JobSeeker or Newstart amount was supplemented by the coronavirus supplement at a national level.

MR DAVIS: Following on from that, Chief Minister, what barriers exist to the elimination of poverty in the ACT?

MR BARR: In some instances there is intergenerational poverty. This, clearly, requires whole-of-government and whole-of-community wraparound support for particular individuals and families. Clearly, having a job and having a level of income that gets you above the Henderson poverty line is one way that we can reduce the level of poverty in our community. Having a jobs-first and secure local jobs policy approach as well as a jobs target of more than 250,000 jobs by 2025, is one way that we can lift thousands of people out of poverty. So we are pursuing that policy agenda.

Not cutting penalty rates and not supporting the cutting of penalty rates in many industry sectors is another way that we can ensure that incomes are higher, and that

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