‘It’s hard to fathom’: Homelessness organisations plea for funding certainty
10 March 2021 at 5:38 pm
Over 180 organisations have signed a letter calling for the government to reverse upcoming cuts
Homelessness and housing advocates say they must be included in a federal funding deal allowing workers in the female-dominated social sector to receive fair pay, or face losing over 500 front-line staff.
With women making up 80 per cent of the community services workforce, the landmark Fair Work Commission decision to address the gendered undervaluation of work in 2012 saw wages increase by up to 45 per cent over eight years.
Despite this, a number of services including homelessness and domestic violence crisis accommodation services have been excluded from the funding deal. Not receiving this funding would mean a cut of $56.7 million to services, or 567 fewer frontline workers.
Over 180 community organisations have now signed a letter calling on the federal government for equity in Commonwealth funded services.
The letter said that federal Social Services Minister Anne Ruston had “indicated” homelessness services had been left out as they are jointly funded by the Commonwealth and states and territories via the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement. But it said there were other organisations also receiving joint funding that hadn’t missed out on the funding.
Jenny Smith, Homelessness Australia chair, told Pro Bono News that while the states and territories must continue to pay their half, federal funding was critical if vulnerable people were to be protected.
‘It’s hard to fathom’
With the JobSeeker payment set to reduce significantly at the end of March, Smith said the timing of the cuts was “hard to fathom”.
“We were already turning away 260 people every day prior to COVID… and forecasts show that by June this year, we are likely to see a nine per cent increase in homelessness,” Smith said.
“This is a time when we need to be strengthening the responses that we have, not overlooking them.”
She said that while organisations had been patiently waiting for a response from government as to why some services had missed out on funding, time and money was fast running out.
“We’re three months out from the end of the financial year when the money runs out, and services will have to give staff notice and start cutting those jobs, which is heartbreaking in the current environment,” Smith said.
See the full letter here.