Indigenous Prisoner Program Cut
17 June 2014 at 10:30 am
The Aboriginal Legal Services (NSW/ACT) is the latest community service organisation to lose Federal Government funding for one of its frontline programs.
According to ALS (NSW/ACT), the Federal Government has cut funding after June 30 to its Prisoner ThroughCare program, a frontline service it says assists Aboriginal men, women and children leaving jail integrate back into daily life.
The announcement follows cuts to many community organisations including the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, Refugee Council of Australia, Australian Youth Affairs Coalition and youth employment program Youth Connections.
ALS (NSW/ACT) said the Prisoner ThroughCare program was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and was in its eighth year of operation.
The organisation said it employed one administration officer and five case workers, who through a case management approach assisted pre and post release prisoners in NSW and ACT to get out of jail, and stay out.
Phil Naden, CEO of ALS (NSW/ACT), said the new cuts had come as a shock.
“Six months ago the Australian government brutally stripped our budget by 4.5 per cent over four years, and now we’re facing even more cuts, this time with a program that is solely, purely ‘frontline’,” Naden said.
“We have heard so many public statements by government, in the lead up to and after the 2014 Budget, that no frontline services in Indigenous Affairs would be cut.
"Our Prisoner ThroughCare field staff are engaged in vitally important work on the frontline to assist people leaving prison avoid further recidivism, and these public statements do not reflect what our Prisoner ThroughCare staff were accomplishing."
Naden said he had contacted the funding body, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, to express his disappointment.
"Although only $500,000 per annum to run, we have little expectation the Government will reverse their decision," he said.
"We are already preparing to absorb a big funding cut to our operations, announced in the Government's mid-year budget in December 2013.
"Cost-saving measures are one thing, but a direct hit to frontline services – losing the whole Prisoner ThroughCare unit – well that’s just disappointing.
"We carry great sadness for the departing staff of our Prisoner ThroughCare Unit.
“And for the Aboriginal people who were benefiting from using this service, we’re truly sorry, and we can only hope the government will see the light once again, and fund this necessary service for our most vulnerable citizens."