Morrison government offers $100M boost to community sector
14 April 2020 at 4:39 pm
The funding will go towards emergency relief, food delivery, and financial stress support
More than 300 charities and community groups will benefit from a $100 million funding boost aimed at helping vulnerable people get through the coronavirus pandemic.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston on Saturday announced the funding injection, alongside a new National Coordination Group to help lead the Morrison government’s response to emergency relief across Australia.
This sector-led group will identify issues at a local, state and national level and offer advice directly to the minister.
Ruston said she has been in constant communication with the sector to ensure the government was responding to its needs.
“The government understands this is a trying time for relief providers facing rapidly increasing demand while dealing with challenges in maintaining the workforce and distribution lines needed to operate,” Ruston said.
“Many people reaching out to these services may have never needed this type of assistance before so we need to make sure we have the right supports in place to help people through this period and bounce back stronger when it’s over.”
Of the $100 million funding injection, $37 million will be shared between almost 200 Commonwealth-funded emergency relief organisations to increase support and change service delivery methods to comply with social distancing measures.
Red Cross will receive $7 million over the next six months to deliver emergency relief and casework support to vulnerable people on temporary visas.
And food relief providers Foodbank Australia, SecondBite and OzHarvest will share $16 million in funding to help with food supplies, transport options and staffing needs.
This funding will ensure food is delivered where it is needed, including to other community groups.
Financial stress support
The government is also providing $20 million to financial counselling services including the National Debt Helpline, Money Support Hubs and Problem Gambling to increase their capacity to help more Australians through the economic uncertainty.
Around 115,000 Australians receive Commonwealth-funded financial counselling support every year and the funding is expected to help another 50,000 people to be supported.
Another $20 million will go to Good Shepherd Microfinance to help 40,000 Australians access its No Interest Loans Scheme (NILs).
This scheme provides up to $1,500 in immediate financial relief for everyday household products and bills – as opposed to high-risk, high-interest products such as credit cards and payday loans.
A Good Shepherd spokesperson told Pro Bono News the organisation welcomed the funding boost.
“Good Shepherd will now work closely with our corporate partners and government to finalise details of the Coronavirus NILs package, which will provide financial information and no interest loans up to $1,500 (or more in certain circumstances), for immediate financial relief for household products and bills with a repayment period of 18 months,” they said.
“We expect to be able to release details of this new program in the coming weeks.”
The government has also flagged it will allocate a further $100 million over the next six months to where it is most needed within the sector.