Bushfire recovery and the pressures and opportunities of an election year will be the top priorities of the newly appointed CEO of the ACT Council of Social Service, Dr Emma Campbell.
Dr Campbell has replaced Susan Helyar who left ACTCOSS last November.
ACTCOSS is the peak body for not-for-profit community organisations and advocates for social justice in the ACT, including the Conflict Resolution Service, Domestic Violence Crisis Service, Karinya House for Mothers & Babies, and Menslink, as well as large-scale social service providers like Belconnen Community Services and Woden Community Services.
“One of the first things I have to do is look at the work, and acknowledge the work the community sector has been doing in the last few weeks around the bushfires in the region and the hazardous air quality,” Dr Campbell told Region Media.
“Because there is going to be a lot of work ahead for the community sector in meeting the needs of those people who have been affected by bushfires, understanding how we can work with our members to ensure that they are supported will be a priority for me.”
Dr Campbell is a former CEO of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA), Australia’s peak representative body advocating on behalf of Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
“A lot of the issues I am working on here at the Territory level like poverty and low income issues, inclusion and health, are not dissimilar to my previous roles, particularly at FECCA, so it is really exciting to get back into the community sector,” she told Region Media.
“I am just excited to be focusing on the ACT and Canberra because I love Canberra.”
Dr Campbell says she is looking forward to helping project the voices of the Canberra community, with a strong sense of social justice and commitment to the community sector.
She also identified the pivotal role importance an election year can play for the social service sector.
Dr Campbell says she will have to work with all parties to ensure that the best interests of Canberrans are represented across political lines.
“We are working to understand the key issues that are impacting Canberrans, particularly those who face disadvantage or low incomes,” she said.
“We will be looking to the government, the opposition, the Greens and others to get them to understand what is important for those in the ACT, and to make a strong, successful and progressive community.
“A fair and just community improves life for everyone so all Canberrans should work together towards social equality to ensure everyone has a positive outcome.”