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Funding cuts a cruel Christmas gift to the community sector

The Australian Greens said today that we are seeing further evidence of Abbott's desire to dismantle our social services sector, with a number of peak bodies, particularly outspoken, advocacy bodies learning that they have been defunded as part of the $240 million budget cuts to social services.

"We are hearing today that services are receiving calls informing them of the cancellation of funding, in some cases with very short effect," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.

"It is already clear that key housing and homelessness services including Community Housing Federation of Australia and the National Shelter and Homelessness Australia, along with financial counselling services will be affected, some as early as February. $21m over 4 years has been stripped from research, peak bodies, innovative projects, emerging priorities and policy advice on how to improve housing affordability for all Australians.

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

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

"Today's reports are just the start of the Government's plan to cut $240 million from programs funded under the Department of Social Services. With no formal announcement yet, it is difficult to piece together how many organisations are affected but no doubt we will hear more horror stories over the coming days.

"Organisations have been waiting for six months to find out if their contracts had been cut, renewed or extended, some organisation were originally signed through until 2016, and are now being cut. Others have been waiting to find out if they will have their funding renewed, and on what terms.

"Incoming Social Services Minister Scott Morrison's first act should be to reverse these cuts and reinstate funding immediately.

"This is a move that will reduce service levels, cut jobs and ultimately disadvantage the most vulnerable Australians and further erode the capacity of our community sector," Senator Siewert concluded.


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