Brutal funding cuts no Christmas cheer for social services bodies

THE AUSTRALIAN (Newspaper) DECEMBER 22, 2014 7:53PM
Source: News Limited
Rick Morton – Social Affairs Reporter – Sydney
Rick Morton on Google Plus

Cruel Christmas for social services

Blind Citizens Australia national president Greg Madson: ‘Some can survive on other funding sources but many will have to close down.

The peak bodies for the disability, homelessness and community sectors were told which ones would lose funding just days before Christmas in an announcement from the Department of Social Services late this afternoon.

The budget-saving measure aims to haul back tens of millions of dollars by streamlining the number of representative bodies in the two sectors.

In the disability arena most condition-specific bodies like Blind Citizens Australia — which lost $190,000 — and two deaf groups, the Disability Advocacy Network Australia and Brain Injury Australia all had their funding revoked.

People with Disability Australia, First Peoples Disability Network, Children with Disability Australia and some other “cross-disability” organisations won funding.

Community Housing Federation Australia, National Shelter and Homelessness Australia also lost funding as part of a $21 million cut to the sector.

The new regime is part of the Department’s “A New Way of Working” grants process but the cuts came at the request of political masters looking for budget savings.

One source within the government said it was known the cuts would have to be “brutal”.

Some of the funding losses came only as a result of decisions taken for the most recent Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook update last week. Organisations were told only via phone call and told to keep the conversation confidential. They have still not received formal letters acknowledging the decision.

Blind Citizens Australia national president Greg Madson said peak body organisations would collapse.

“Some can survive on other funding sources but many will have to close down,” he said.

“It’s not a very nice realisation. We knew something was coming but we didn’t know it would look like this.”

Carol Croce, Executive Director of the Community Housing Federation Australia, said she was “profoundly disappointed”. The organisation’s funding was not only cut but its contract was severed one year in advance, stopping in June next year instead of 2016.

“We are profoundly disappointed at this decision,” she said.

“I just don’t understand how the government plans on continuing its discussions in these sectors when they are taking away the mechanisms to have those discussions about the future.”

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, which hoped to survive as a consortium for all condition-specific representative bodies also lost its funding.

The National Information Centre on Retirement Investments was also axed.

Greens spokeswoman on family and community services Rachel Siewert said the cuts delivered uncertainty.

“We’ve known that cuts were coming, but for organisations to hear the news that their funding has been cut just days before Christmas is very cruel,” she said.

“This inflicts maximum chaos and undermines the sector’s advocacy on behalf of vulnerable Australians.

“With a new Minister on the way, it is vital that organisations can engage on behalf of their stakeholders, but these cuts will make that impossible.”

The Department has been approached for comment.

Trudy’s award for advocacy

Congratulations to Trudy; an award and recognition well deserved.

20 May 2014

Waverley Leader newspaper Article written by Julia Rabar

Inspirational Trudy Ryall, with her assistance dog, Tyson, has been recognised for her
advocacy for people with disabilities.
DISABILITY campaigner Trudy Ryall was named an Outstanding Advocate of
People with Disabilities at the Sir John Monash Awards last week.
Ms Ryall, who is legally blind and was born deaf, thanked her family and community.
“Alone we can only do so little and together we can do so much,” Ms Ryall said, quoting
Helen Keller.
Ms Ryall was one of seven people acknowledged at a ceremony at the Monash Gallery
of Art during National Volunteers Week.
The Multicultural Champion award went to Joseph Jin for his work with culturally and
linguistically diverse communities.
Rosemary Snibson took home the Women’s Leadership award for her work at Dixon
House and All Saints Anglican Church.
The winner of the Youth Leadership award was Prateek Pillai, while Monash
Permaculture claimed the Sustainability Leadership award.
The Positive Ageing Leadership award was claimed by Gwen Clark, and the Active
Monash award went to Ceres Calisthenics Club.
Waverley RSL SubBranch president Neil Slaughter won the Volunteer of the Year award
as well as the overall Sir John Monash Award for Outstanding Leadership.
Monash Mayor Geoff Lake thanked the winners and finalists for their contributions.

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Wayne Hawkins
Disability Policy Advisor

Australian Communications

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