Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 February 2015) . . Page.. 527 ..
fundamental values of our government and to a social policy platform I am proud to pursue as a minister. In all of my portfolios, and in many across the government, there is an opportunity to champion inclusion and equality, and the dividends which can flow not just for individuals but for the wellbeing of entire communities.
As one of the main points of contact between government and the community, the community services sector is an important place to bring these goals into our programs and services through a focus on participation and inclusion, including for those experiencing disadvantage.
As we know, on high level indicators Canberra performs well. The OECD has, again, ranked Canberra as the most livable city in the world. It affirms what we know—that Canberra is a fantastic place to live. However, alongside this endorsement it is also worth considering that many people measure the quality of society by the way it responds to those most in need—to the one in seven households who struggle to survive on a minimum income; to the one in four people who will experience a mental health problem in any 12-month period; to the one in six young people who have caring responsibilities; and to the one in 25 people who experience severe or profound disability.
The need to pursue inclusion and equality in our community goes far beyond notions of disadvantage. It extends to the people who are our neighbours, people that we see at the shops, people standing at bus stops and people at the desk next to us at work. We need to remember that exclusion can take many forms—the woman who is too frightened to leave her home because of the way people may respond to how she is dressed; the old man who has given up his drivers licence and can no longer catch up with his mates; and the girl whose parents cannot afford for her to go on school excursions or take swimming lessons.
I am proud of the work that the ACT government has done in working with the not-for-profit and community sectors to create positive change in people’s lives. Local community services are the cornerstone of this work. The ACT is fortunate to have 4,000 community sector workers spread across many fine organisations. Some of these workers work full time; some are part time and casuals; many more are volunteers. These people and the local community organisations that employ them are the people who, day in, day out, work to support inclusion and equality.
One example fresh in my mind is the Rotary Club of Canberra, which coordinates the Foodbank services in the ACT. It provides some 500,000 meals to Canberrans each year, in close cooperation with organisations such as UnitingCare Kippax and Canberra City Care. The ACT government is a proud supporter of this work, through funding to Rotary for transport costs associated with this work. The government also provided a grant of $200,000 towards the enormous new Foodbank warehouse being built in Sydney, which will grow the volume of this service. This is one example among many.
Our community services need government support and government investment. In 2013-14 the Community Services Directorate provided funding to 28 organisations under the community services program alone. Sadly, this commitment to the