The Senate has supported an inquiry into the grants process of the Department of Social Services (DSS) that is leaving essential services across the sector without funding.
“The grants application process introduced by the Government is a debacle that has left seismic shockwaves through community services” said Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services.
“There is a great deal of uncertainty and confusion about the grants process with community organisations nation-wide are receiving notice from the Federal Government that their funding hasn't been renewed or their applications haven't been successful or are being required to sign onerous contracts. This undermines the ability of the community sector to support their clients and to delivers services to the community.
"The budget saw cuts of $240 million to programs funded under the Department of Social Services, the subsequent grants process has made cuts throughout the sector and it is important that we get an understanding of where and why cuts have been made. There needs to be accountability and transparency in this process.
"The process culminated in some organisations being told just days before Christmas that their grants had been rejected and their funding discontinued, in some cases as soon as this month.
"The inquiry will thoroughly examine the Government's decision making process and the way they have gone about delivering these significant and harmful cuts. The inquiry will examine the impact of these cuts on the service quality, efficiency and sustainability of the sector, as well as the ability of organisations to properly advocate on behalf of their clients. Consultation, time-frames and the decision making processes used by the Government will also be examined.
"Community organisations and those who access their services were unnerved at the prospect of reducing or losing their funding and will be relieved by news of this inquiry.
"I look forward to the outcomes of this inquiry holding the Government accountable for this process and its impact on the community sector ," Senator Siewert concluded.