Local, Independant and Effective

QT - How is Government supporting emergency relief programs in Indi?

Posted June 24, 2015


CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (14:18): My question is to the Minister for Social Services. Minister, recent changes for emergency relief services, such as Loaves and Fishes in Wangaratta and north-east Victoria, have caused great confusion. Individuals in need and service providers do not know where to go or what to do. There is discontent due to the lack of relevant and timely information about the changes. Can the minister please tell the House what the government is doing on the ground to sort out this mess?

Mr SCOTT MORRISON (Cook—Minister for Social Services) (14:19): I thank the member for her question. The member would know that there was a very extensive DSS grants round at the end of last year, which was the most significant competitive round of grants for services relating to emergency relief. She would know that as a result of that competitive tender round that the following organisations—the Salvation Army, Beechworth Neighbourhood Centre, Euroa Community Education Centre, MACE Incorporated, UnitingCare Wodonga and VincentCare Victoria—were offered, and accepted, funding to provide emergency relief services in the Hume statistical area, which encompasses the Wangaratta district.

The issue here is: is it the services that are being provided? There has been a continuity of services provided throughout this entire period. In January of this year we extended the existing funding for those services that were receiving them, including Loaves and Fishes, out to the end of March while we looked at the funding service gaps. I am advised by the Department of Social Services that the Loaves and Fishes program in Wangaratta has now received some funding directly from the Salvation Army, who is the principal provider of services in that area, as a result of the tender process. In addition to the Loaves and Fishes services at Ovens Street in Wangaratta, I understand that the Salvation Army is also present in Garnet Avenue Wangaratta, as well as in Wodonga, Beechworth, Benalla, Broadford and Seymour.

I am also aware of a media report around the provision of services to the towns of Myrtleford, Bright and Mount Beauty. I am advised by the department that the Salvation Army currently provides services for these towns through their Beechworth centre. I understand that the Salvation Army is working on how services can be delivered in the Bright, Mount Beauty and Myrtleford communities, and will be working with the government to resolve any potential service gaps.

We will continue to do that, just as on other DSS grant issues—as members opposite would know—whether it was for Karralika, or Mirabel Foundation, or Hartley House or any of these other places where the government is engaged in good faith with members to resolve any frontline service gaps. That is what we have also done exactly in these circumstances.

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