All National Shelter wants for Christmas is a robust civil society: instead there are funding cuts

 

23 December, 2014

As Scott Morrison takes the baton on the Social Services ministry, the Commonwealth has flagged a move away from funding housing and homelessness. 

In his last act at DSS Minister Andrews axed funding from research and peak bodies in the area.

On the eve of Christmas the Federal Government has tried to silence the voices of the vulnerable by reneging on contracts with peak bodies including National Shelter, the Community Housing Federation of Australia and Homelessness Australia.

National Shelter Executive Officer, Adrian Pisarski described the cuts as callous, “Joe Hockey has announced the budget will be used as a shock absorber. It seems the government delivers the shock and on behalf of the poor and vulnerable we absorb it.” 

National Shelter points out that whilst the move may save the budget $5m per annum it will cost the homeless and marginally housed their ability to be counted and heard in future negotiations.

“It looks to me like the start of a Commonwealth backsliding out of housing and homelessness” Mr Pisarski said, “Who will now point out how bad things are or dare challenge Ministers or the advice of officials, or rather why will they listen?” he added.

“Peak bodies play an essential role in civil society, speaking up for marginalised people and bringing a broad view of the system to promote fairness, effectiveness and efficiency.  

“Governments are impoverished without the evidence based policy knowledge of peaks and their capacity to provide advice and a voice from the community - this is an attack on civil society, and the long term costs will be worn by our most vulnerable citizens.”

In his time with National Shelter Mr Pisarski has provided advice to 10 Commonwealth Ministers including Minister Andrews and most have been appreciative of the advice and services offered.

“This government has articulated no plan but to await the outcome of an ever increasing number of processes (Federalism, Taxation, Welfare,) while homelessness increases dramatically and our housing supply fails the poor.

“Its easy to defund peaks who don’t deliver a direct service but the advice we provide would save governments from having to fund many services in the future so we must conclude it is a cynical political exercise to silence us before they announce their real intentions.” 

 

ENDS 

Further comment: 

 

Adrian Pisarski, National Shelter Executive Officer  mob. 0417 975 270 or email adrian.pisarski@shelter.org.au    

 

Mary Perkins, National Shelter Chairperson, mob. 0419 919 091.