Expert panel to determine best ways to target assistance in the ACT

Today I announced the final two members for the Expert Panel which will provide recommendations to me on the best way to target assistance to those in need in the ACT.

Ms Sandra Lambert and Ms Carmel Franklin will join panel chair Gordon Ramsay to develop an evidence-based strategy that provides real options for supporting Canberrans experiencing financial hardship.

Each of these members have skills and experience in dealing with people who need an extra hand to make ends meet. I am after real, practical solutions that the Government can implement to improve services and supports to those people in our community who are doing it tough.

I think we have been pretty good in expanding services to those people who are in receipt of government concessions but increasingly I am meeting people who sit just above the concessions threshold who need a helping hand. Now this isn’t  just about handouts, in many cases people want to be able to pay their own way – sometimes it could be about changing our own systems and processes to support them to get out of financial troubles. Due to Canberra’s relative wealth those living in financial hardship are often masked by those who earn more than the national average wage.

What we do know locally is that 8% of ACT households rely on government benefits for at least 90% of their income and 11.5% of households rely on government benefits for at least 50% of their income. According to NATSEM in 2007 13% of ACT households were classified as low income households and 29.5% of people in the lowest income quintile are unable to raise $2000 within one week in the case of an emergency.

All three panellist are really experienced in particular areas –  Gordon Ramsey in relation to community service provision, Carmel Franklin as Chief Executive of CARE Financial Counselling Service and Sandra Lambert as a former Chief Executive of the now Community Services Directorate.

The Expert Panel has till the end of March 2012 to provide clear recommendations to me on where we can do better to meet the needs of all who live in the ACT. Its going to be a tough job but I know that Gordon, Carmel and Sandra will do a great job.

For a copy of the media release

For a copy of the longer document go here