Govt Delivers Another Funding Reprieve
2 April 2015 at 10:00 am
The Abbott Government has extended funding to approximately 160 drug and alcohol organisations until June 2016 at a cost of $87 million in a move that has been described as an “11th hour fix”.
Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash, announced that organisations currently receiving funding through the health portfolio would be offered an extension to their funding arrangements for a further 12 months. This includes 12 months extension of funding to State and Territory Alcohol and Drug peak bodies.
“The Coalition Government understands the importance of support for rehabilitation. Treatment services provide a vital function in getting people off drugs and alcohol and being able to again contribute to society,” Senator Nash said.
Senator Nash said a review of the drug and alcohol treatment services sector, commissioned by the Department of Health, is currently under consideration by the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments.
The review, which began in 2013, addresses issues of duplication and overlap between services.
“Extending funding for another 12 months will provide clarity and certainty for organisations in the alcohol and other drug sector while longer term plans are developed,” Senator Nash said.
“This will enable treatment services to continue to offer programs and support their clients in their individual recovery.”
“The review outcomes are complex and require further analysis to determine the most appropriate approach to delivering quality and sustainable alcohol and other drug treatment funding.
“As alcohol and other drug treatment services are funded by both the Commonwealth and state and territories, a coordinated response is also essential.”
But Shadow Minister for Health, Catherine King, said the announcement was “just the latest chapter in the long saga of the Abbott Government’s chaos and confusion in health policy”.
“At literally the last minute before these crucial organisations were due to begin winding up services and laying off staff, the Minister has announced she will rollover their funding for another 12 months,” King said.
“It’s clear the Minister has rushed out this fix, after being embarrassed by warnings from Labor and public health groups about the looming crisis.
“[This] announcement is simply not good enough, and will do nothing to provide long term certainty for these crucial services.
“Worse, it appears the fix still leaves in limbo hundreds of other crucial health programs tackling chronic disease, communicable diseases and rural health issues.”
Also this week Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison, announced the Government is providing an extra $1.7 million in Emergency Relief grants.
Morrison said the funding will ensure Emergency Relief providers in key areas are funded up to 2017.
The announcements are the latest in a series of funding backdowns from the Abbott Government which in March granted a temporary reprieve for disability organisations.
In January Social Services Minister, Scott Morrison, announced he would provide bridging funding to Not for Profits that had previously been told they had lost funding.