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Government Backpedals on Massive Funding Cuts to Charity


24 October 2018 at 5:36 pm
Maggie Coggan
Community outrage over millions of dollars in federal funding cuts to a respected youth charity has caused the government to backflip.   


Maggie Coggan | 24 October 2018 at 5:36 pm


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Government Backpedals on Massive Funding Cuts to Charity
24 October 2018 at 5:36 pm

Community outrage over millions of dollars in federal funding cuts to a respected youth charity has caused the government to backflip.   

CEO and founder of Youth Off The Streets (YOTS), Father Chris Riley, met with federal education minister Dan Tehan after it emerged the government’s new funding formula for homeless and disadvantaged children would halve the payment per child.

The changes meant $1.3 million dollars in funding would be cut from YOTS, and it was ordered to repay $630,000 it was overpaid since the changes were approved.  

But following combined community and media outrage, Tehan agreed to meet with Riley to discuss the money he owed and future funding cuts.

Riley spoke to Pro Bono News following his meeting with Tehan and said that funding had been now been secured until the end of 2019, and he no longer had to repay any money.

“I wasn’t going to let him get away with it,” Riley said.

He also raised concerns over the narrow view of disability the new classification took, which he said didn’t factor in circumstances such as trauma, substance abuse issues, domestic and family violence or homelessness.

Tehan said however, he would be looking into the issues that Riley raised regarding the classification.  

“I have undertaken to look at issues unique to Father Chris’s schools, such as the disability loading classification for kids with psychosocial or trauma-related conditions and the reporting requirements when it comes to students where homelessness is a factor,” Tehan said.

Riley said while the outcome was positive, this manoeuvre by the government had created a sense of distrust about future funding, and how funding was awarded to charities.  

“The Great Barrier Reef Foundation was given half a billion without an application… I just want some sort of dignity for our kids, and they are trying to smash them as hard as they can,” he said.   

He also believed that they were not the only organisation to be targeted by the revised funding model.

“We aren’t alone. There’s 900 schools across Australia who are dealing with quite similar issues to ours,” he said.

“I didn’t just speak up about this just for me, and if other organisations need to get courage from what I’ve done then that’s good, because a lot of them just give up.”

Shadow education minister, Tanya Plibersek, said the charity had the rug pulled out from under them, as they had been promised funding previously.  

“Last year, Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off the Streets schools were told what they would have from the federal government this year and, as the year is almost over, instead of being supported, they’re getting a bill for $600,000,” Plibersek said.

YOTS currently runs five special assistance schools, as well as homelessness support services for young people, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.

Tehan has promised to go and visit Riley’s schools in Sydney on Friday to see the work YOTS does with young people.


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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