4 December 2018

Morrison Government backflips on funding cuts for counselling and charity groups

Source: https://www.9news.com.au

5:45pm Nov 26, 2018

The Morrison Government has performed a fresh backflip on funding cuts, with 16 financial counselling, legal aid and charity groups on the brink of losing their grants delivered a last-minute reprieve.

Many of the organisations feared they would have to cut jobs and community services, after learning suddenly their funding wouldn’t be continued in the new year.

In some cases, they received as little as two months’ warning.
But 9News can reveal the government has now agreed to extend their grants until December next year.

A spokesperson for Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher said the government “decided to provide funding certainty to the end of 2019” after the discussions with the sector.

Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher. (AAP)
But he declined to expand on why the government decided to pull the grants in the first place.

Labor has accused the government of bungling the funding rollout.
Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities Jenny McAllister said it was “a disaster of the government’s own making”.
“The government has thrown frontline services into chaos with only weeks to go before Christmas,” she said.  “This saga has caused immense stress to frontline staff and was entirely avoidable.”
Labor’s Jenny McAllister said the funding rollout was “a disaster of the government’s own making”. (9News)

The peak body representing the sector, Financial Counselling Australia, welcomed the news of the 12-month extensions.  CEO Fiona Guthrie told 9News that workers were initially facing the prospect of losing their jobs before Christmas.

“This gives us some breathing space and time to work through what to do,” she said.

Some in the industry told 9News it appeared the government had cut funding by mistake.

Shortly before the extensions were granted, the head of one of the organisations said “it’s not clear the government is even aware it has defunded us”.

The government has already reversed a decision to cut funding to charity group Foodbank. (9News)

It’s the latest in a series of backflips over government funding cuts.
Around two weeks ago, Prime Minister Scott Morrison reversed a decision to cut more than $300,000 funding to charity Foodbank, which provides food to more than 710,000 Australians impacted by natural disasters or economic hardship.

The government also had a change of heart after pulling funding from two key groups operating Australia’s national debt helpline, extending their grant arrangments by 12 months.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018