BLOW BURIED IN THE NSW BUDGET: FAMILY VIOLENCE, HOMELESSNESS AND OTHER VITAL SERVICES ACROSS THE STATE AT RISK
The NSW Government has threatened the future of community organisations that offer vital assistance to vulnerable communities, including family violence and homelessness services.
This is due to the Government’s decision to set the indexation for some community funded services at just 1.75 per cent for the coming year, while wages are to increase by 3 per cent.
NCOSS CEO, Joanna Quilty, said community organisations perform a critical role in helping the most disadvantaged, and this decision could undermine vital services to those who need it most.
“These services employ dedicated and experienced staff who are dealing with increased demand and increasing complexity,” Ms Quilty said.
“These workers are at the frontline of service delivery - they support women escaping violent relationships, people who are homeless and kids who have experienced trauma and abuse. They can be on-call day and night and working weekends to respond to crisis situations.
“They should be valued by the Government and championed for their efforts. Instead, this indexation decision feels like a slap in the face.
“This is a sector that already runs on a shoestring. Every year they are asked to do more with less, and this decision could put them at breaking point.
“Even large organisations are grappling with individualised funding packages under NDIS and aged care reforms which don’t cover the full cost of service provision.
“For smaller organisations, it’s becoming next to impossible. They face the choice of cutting hours, employing less qualified staff or simply shutting up shop.”
The NCOSS CEO said paying our community services workers a decent wage was vitally important and this needed to be supported by increases in funding.
“NCOSS strongly supports paying our community services workers, who are largely female workers, a decent wage,” Ms Quilty said.
“They are real heroes in our community and they deserve not only financial security, but frankly more respect from the NSW Government.”
Ms Quilty said with the NSW Government continually downsizing the public sector and outsourcing essential services, it was vitally important that funding to NGOs matched the real cost of service provision.
“The risk of not adequately compensating NGOs while expecting them to provide the same or even higher levels of service is that good people will leave. It won’t be a viable career option,” she said.
“When the Premier was re-elected, she promised to “…focus on tackling social issues to reduce disadvantage,” but this Budget makes it more difficult for the community sector to do this.”