Reprieve for vital community services left in limbo by Government Budget cuts

ACOSS has welcomed the Minister for Social Services the Hon. Scott Morrison’s announcement today to extend funding for government-funded services that were advised they had lost funding on Christmas eve, while also moving to issue funding offers to those who were successful in the recent tender round by Department of Social Services.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said, “This is a major achievement for community organisations that provide vital support to people and communities across the country.”

“These organisations have been in a state of crisis: either because they were told they had lost funding with less than two months notice on current contracts, or because they had been told they were successful in their funding applications but without any detail of the amount of funding or what they would be required to do with it.

“When we met with the Minister he indicated the capacity to ensure appropriate transition for already-vulnerable clients was his urgent priority. The Minister has heard our grave concerns about this. Today’s announcement will enable services to work with the clients and communities they support to ensure their needs continue to be met, even as the organisations providing that support might change.

“Of course, this does not mean the $270 million cut to DSS funding over four years has been restored, nor that the key policy and advocacy provided by disability, housing and homelessness organisations has been refunded. At a time when the Government’s reform agenda requires a well-informed community and constructive policy advice, this is a major loss that we continue to oppose.

“But for the hundreds and thousands of people who rely on services in areas like emergency relief, financial counselling, community mental health and child, youth and family support, this is significant in terms of their ability to continue receiving the support they need.

“We know there are further details still to come, including the implications of two-year contracts and other implications of redesigned processes flowing from the Williams case, as indicated by the Minister.

“ACOSS will continue to work with the sector and the Government to improve the adequacy of funding processes and their transparency to meet community need,” said Dr Goldie.

Media contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155

The Government’s announcement today provides for:

  • The releasing of funding agreements in the coming days to all organisations who were advised in December that they were successful in their funding tenders, with negotiations to commence immediately given that current funding runs out at the end of February; and
  • Transitional funding for organisations that lost funding in a number of program areas to cover service gaps.

Some organisations that were existing providers and were told they were ‘unsuccessful’ in new funding have now had that funding extended from the end of February to 30 June. The following Programs are covered by this extension (some of these are previous program names that have now been broadbanded):

  • Commonwealth Financial Counselling Direct
  • Family and Mental Health Support Services
  • Family Relationship Services for Humanitarian Entrants
  • Kids in Focus
  • Money management services
  • Specialist family violence

More information:

Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison MP Media Release, January 30, 2015 

Morrison to fill critical front line service gaps in Social Service grants