Disability Funding Backflip Fuels Calls for Certainty from NFP Sector
Tuesday, 3rd March 2015
at 11:23 am
Xavier Smerdon, Journalist
Tuesday, 3rd March 2015 at 11:23 am
The Federal Government has made another Not for Profit funding backflip – this time on its cuts to disability groups, granting a temporary reprieve to eight advocacy bodies whose funding ran out at the weekend.
In February the Department of Social Services (DSS) announced it would cut funding to the disability advocacy groups and establish an alliance of just five representative bodies.
The decision saw eight bodies representing 200,000 people with disabilities defunded – including the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, Blind Citizens Australia, Brain Injury Australia and Inclusion Australia.
The organisations have now been told they have secured "transition funding" of $450,000 until the end of June.
Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield said: “The Cross-Disability Alliance is being funded to represent all people with disability within the one framework, especially as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is rolled out.
“Following the finalisation of the selection process for the Cross-Disability Alliance, the Department of Social Services contacted the organisations that were not successful. All indicated their organisations plan to continue their work and in particular to work with the new Cross-Disability Alliance,” Senator Fifield said.
“I took the decision to extend grant agreements for these organisations to 30 June 2015 and to provide an additional payment to each of them to assist with a smooth transition.
“ I have also directed my Department to explore other potential capacity-building projects and funding that may be suitable for organisations to apply for, such as NDIS preparedness activities.”
Labor Shadow Minister for Disability Jenny Macklin said extending grant some transition funding to eight disability organisations is a victory for the disability sector, but the funding needs to be made permanent.
“The Liberals must make this funding permanent, and give people with disability the certainty that they deserve,” Macklin said.
“This is not a time for compromising the multitude of voices in the disability sector.
“Around Australia, community organisations are having their funding slashed by the Abbott Government.”
Councils of Social Service (COSS) across Australia have joined forces to also call for an urgent reversal of $1 billion worth of cuts to community services.
The peak welfare groups, lead by ACOSS said the Federal Government has identified up to $1 billion in “savings measures” from community services that include:
$270 million over four years to Department of Social Services;
foreshadowed cut of $197 million to Department of Health;
$500 million in cuts to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community services;
additional cuts to legal services including Legal Aid and community legal services.
"Community organisations have been working in a state of uncertainty for months as these cuts have been made and foreshadowed,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
"Last week, we saw the release of the Government-commissioned McClure report in which one of its key recommendations is an investment approach to secure better social and economic participation by those most vulnerable in our communities. Yet these cuts are jeopardising the very social infrastructure provided by community organisations to support such approaches.
"Our strong message today is that the pursuit of these cuts has already had a devastating impact on services and people in communities right across Australia.
"We welcome the efforts of Social Services Minister Scott Morrison to put in place transitional arrangements in recent weeks, which provided short-term relief for some services struggling to support the critical needs of clients and communities. However, many essential community organisations have been facing long-term uncertainty as the Government makes these decisions.”
The Councils of Social Service across Australia are calling on the Federal Government to:
Stop these funding cuts and determine, in partnership with the community service sector,adequate funding levels to meet community need and maximise social and economic participation for everyone.
Extend current funding for organisations that have not yet been able to finalise new Government funding offers.
- Adopt the recommendations of the Productivity Commission to improve government contracting with community organisations.