When there are no beds available at a women’s refuge, no community legal services, no financial counselling support, what will you say to the woman leaving her violent partner? “This is the question Malcolm Turnbull needs to answer,” said Linda White, Assistant National Secretary of the Australian Services Union (ASU), the community and disability support workers’ union.
"Since taking office in 2013 the Coalition Federal Government has cut over $1 billion from essential community services,” Ms White said.
“That's cuts to women’s refuges for women and families leaving violence, along with other support services like legal and financial counselling. That's cuts to homelessness funding, mental health programs for young people, aboriginal legal services and targeted indigenous programs.
“In this year’s Federal Budget we’re told of a $50 billion tax cut to corporations. Is this the future under Malcolm Turnbull? Where the rich get tax relief but doors are shut on our most vulnerable?” Ms White said.
This week ASU members will take their campaign to save essential community services to 14 marginal seats across the country, highlighting the impact of funding cuts on local services. A series of candidates forums have been organised where candidates will be asked to publicly support the campaign.
The ASU is calling on all parties to commit to increased funding for community services and a fairer funding model that provides greater certainty for services.
“We are also demanding that every dollar of funding of essential community services is spent on services provision, that businesses looking to make a buck aren’t able to profit from vulnerable people,” Ms White said.
The ASU will take these demands directly to Prime Minister Turnbull, with a rally at his electoral office in Edgecliff at 12 noon on Friday 10 June.
“I’d say this to those seeking to be elected on July 2, including the Prime Minister, that unless funding to community services is increased, it is you who is effectively closing the door on the most vulnerable in our communities. This should keep you up at night, like it does our members who have seen the consequences of these cuts,” Ms White said.
Over $1 billion in cuts since September 2013 via three successive Federal Budgets
- $240 million from community services funding through the Department of Social Services, big hits to support services like financial counselling for women leaving violence and targeted early intervention youth programs;
- $165 million from the freeze on the indexation of DSS grants payments to 2017;
- $500 million from Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander programs through consolidation of 150 diverse programmes into 5, the defunding of targeted health services and the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples;
- $230 million from National Partnerships on Homelessness with no funding certainty beyond June 2017, impacting on refuges for women and young people;
- $45 million from community legal services and Aboriginal legal services;
- Cuts to mental health services including a 75% cut in funding over two years for specialist youth mental health programs provided by Headspace and the Youth Psychosis program; and
- Abolished the successful Youth Connections Program that helped young people stay on track.
Key events during the ASU Week of Action
- Week of Action commences Monday 6 June: various locations and dates – community stalls, leafletting at public transport locations, meetings with candidates, rallies (contact the local ASU spokesperson below for details in each state or territory).
- Rally at PM’s Office on Friday 10 June: rally at electorate office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, 287-289 New South Head Road, Edgecliff, NSW (contact the NSW ASU spokesperson below for details).
- National: 0419 507 809, Linda White, ASU Assistant National Secretary
- Queensland: 0417 737 779, Jennifer Thomas, The Services Union Assistant Secretary
- NSW & ACT: 0404 282 557, Judith Wright, NSW & ACT (Services) Branch Acting Secretary
- Victoria & Tasmania: 0438 060 298, Leon Wiegard, ASU Vic & Tas A&S Branch Coordinator
- South Australia: 0419 825 845, Janet Giles, ASU SA & NT Branch Director Campaigns
- Northern Territory: 0459 027 123, Paul Morris, ASU SA & NT Branch Organiser (Darwin)
- Western Australia: 0412 920 978, Jill Hugo, ASU WA Branch Assistant Secretary
STOP PRESS: update 30 June 2016
Late in the election campaign the ASU has discovered that just before the election was triggered, Coalition Treasurer Scott Morrison sent terms of reference to the Productivity Commission in order to initiate an inquiry into commercialising community services and other human services!
This Federal Government is not just intent on cutting funding to local community services, but subjecting them to competition and privatisation. Our campaign against the cuts included a call to ensure private companies cannot profit from vulnerable people in our society - this inquiry goes against that.
Follow the campaign and action week online
ASU Social, Community & Disability Workers campaign: www.facebook.com/ASUsacsdisability