Government’s Welfare Rights Centre funding cuts risk leaving our most vulnerable without support

Sydney’s Welfare Rights Centre performs an important advocacy role and the NSW Government should act to reinstate secure funding for the sake of its clients, says Greens MP and spokesperson for Family and Community Services, Jan Barham.

The Centre was informed last Thursday that its funding from the NSW Department of Family and Community Services would cease at the end of the current financial year, as reported at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/welfare-groups-funding-cut-to-hit-poor/story-fn59niix-1226620669841

“It’s especially troubling that the NSW government is pulling support for advocacy services, right as the Commonwealth payment system is failing individuals and families,” Ms Barham said.

“We know that tens of thousands of single parents are being placed under greater pressure with changes to parenting payments, and that the low rate of Newstart and other allowances risks entrenching poverty and long-term unemployment. The NSW Government should be supporting a service that helps vulnerable households with advice and advocacy to ensure they get the payments they are entitled to and they know their rights.”

Ms Barham warned that local advocacy services shouldn’t be lost in a dispute over Commonwealth versus state responsibilities. “Community Services might say the Welfare Rights Centre isn’t part of their primary focus on child protection, but we can’t let already vulnerable households fall through the cracks between different governments and departments.”

“It is in the interests of New South Wales to ensure that disadvantaged groups have access to support that addresses financial hardship and other stresses on their households. I call on the Premier to ensure that this funding finds a place in his Government’s budget, even if it no longer falls under Community Services,” Ms Barham said.

“The Welfare Rights Centre keeps NSW residents from incurring debt and penalties as a result of wrongful social security decisions. Those results help to keep households afloat and able to contribute to the NSW economy.”

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061