18 April 2013
The Australian Council of Social Service today called on the New South Wales Government to reverse a decision to the cut funding for the Welfare Rights Centre, which provides vital support for some of the most vulnerable people and families throughout NSW.
“The decision by the NSW Department of Community Services is short-sighted as a cost cutting measure, because cutting funding that prevents homelessness, poverty and empowers peoples rights will end up costing us more in the end,” Said ACOSS CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie.
“The Welfare Rights Centre provides crucial advise and support for people in dealing with the federal bureaucracy over income support. It’s work leads to poor decisions by Centrelink to be overturned each year so that people have enough income to stabilise their lives, find paid employment and strengthen their families.
“Although social security and family assistance are Commonwealth areas, states like NSW get enormous value and benefits. For instance, approximately $2 million of debt is prevented or waived annually by the Centre’s caseworker interventions.
“Welfare Rights’ work is so important is assisting some of the most disadvantaged families and young people, people with disabilities, older people and unemployed people. Some of their casework prevents the removal of children, and their work relieves pressures on other agencies.
“There is no alternate provider of this specialist service in NSW and it would be a travesty if these cuts were to proceed.
“At the end of the day tackling poverty is a federal and state responsibility. NSW cannot simply relinquish that responsibility to the Federal Government in an area that clearly crosses that federal-state divide.
“We ask the NSW Community Services Minister Pru Goward to reconsider her department’s decision and reinstate this important funding. In this way she would send a strong message of her state’s commitment to sharing responsibility for supporting people needing specialist assistance in an area that’s fundamental to their daily lives.
Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155