Community Service Sector Funding Still in the Dark
Thursday, 22nd January 2015 at 10:45 am
Thousands of community services organisations across Australia remain in the dark about whether they can continue to provide services this year with the Abbott Government refusing to confirm funding for 2015, the Federal Opposition has claimed.
Opposition politicians said other community services organisations had their funding cut altogether by the Abbott Government just two days before Christmas.
Shadow Minister for Communities, Senator Claire Moore, said the organisations that were deemed “successful” just before Christmas still have no idea how much funding they will receive this year under the Discretionary Grants program, despite being told they would know by ‘mid-January’.
“These organisations provide critical services such as distributing food and blankets to low-income families, supporting people with disabilities and delivering training programs for teenage parents, and they’re unable to tell their staff if they still have a job or work or guarantee if services can continue,” Senator Moore said.
“It’s bad enough that financial counselling providers and organisations providing housing and homelessness advice have been gutted by the Abbott Government, but it’s adding insult to injury by refusing to provide certainty for the few remaining services it hasn’t ripped funding from.
“I have heard from a lot of Not for Profits, who despite being told they will receive a grant, aren’t sure when they will be offered a contract or whether it will be enough to keep their doors open.
“In one case an organisation providing emergency relief to the homeless that has been operating in Holroyd, Western Sydney for almost 50 years is being forced to close their doors in February.
“At the very least they would like to refer their clients to other services but they aren’t being told what services are still being funded and where they are.”
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Families, Senator Carol Brown, said that the continuing chaos followed months of uncertainty for community sector organisations that have been nervous since the Abbott Government cut $240 million dollars from the grants program in the May Budget.
“Minister Morrison must end the chaos and confusion surrounding grants funding for community organisations delivering services to vulnerable Australians,” Senator Brown said.
“With their current funding ending in February, it is impossible for organisations such as those providing community and family supports and emergency food and financial relief to Australia’s most vulnerable people, to plan even weeks into the future.
“The continued bungling of the process may yet destroy services the Department has deemed worthy of funding.”
A spokesperson for Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison told Pro Bono Australia News that the Minister was not in a position to provide information on funding at this time.
In one of his first interviews since becoming the Minister for Social Services before Christmas, Morrison told Sky News overnight that he planned to be a ‘strong welfare cop on the beat’, likening the challenge of the new portfolio to that of what he dealt with as Immigration Minister.
“So there does need to be a strong welfare cop on the beat. Just like (how Australians) won't cop people coming on boats, (they're) not going to cop people who are going to rort that system,” Morrison said.
“I will be doing that because I want to make sure this system helps the people who most need it.”