Archive Article: Funding For Social Welfare 12 May 02
December 29, 2008

The Commonwealth Budget is always studied closely by Wesley Mission. Next Tuesday night’s will be no exception – especially for its impact on social welfare. In particular, there is the question of whether the Commonwealth Government will match the commitment of the NSW State Government to ensure the continuation of social welfare services.

The Superintendent of Wesley Mission has written to the Treasurer, The Hon Peter Costello MP, urging him to ensure that the Commonwealth Government pays its contributions to the funding of the new NSW Social and Community Services Award.

The NSW Industrial Relations Commission made its decision on the new award on last November. The NSW State Government in that same month gave a commitment to meet its share of the additional costs.

There was an expectation that the Commonwealth would also make such a commitment. The Commonwealth Government provides about half of all the government funding for a number of key community and disability services delivered by non-governmental organizations. But no such commitment has yet been given.

The award decision is a complex one, with some details yet to be finalized by the Commission. This means that organizations such as Wesley Mission have yet to find out what the long term impact will be.

But some matters are already clear. For example, in the Wesley Dalmar Child and Family Services area, it will be our capacity to be flexible that will most affected. Much of our service provision is done before and after office hours, such as visiting the homes of carers and clients (especially if we want to catch men and working couples ). Our carer recruitment process and ongoing training programme are conducted at night. These activities will all now incur penalty rates and become very expensive.

Similarly, our foster care camps and camps with young people may have to be scaled down, if not cut out, if we had to pay penalty rates for all staff because these take place at weekends. In sum, the new award has serious implications for our child and family services.

On homeless persons, the estimated figure for increased costs for the Mission’s Homeless Persons Service is $150,000 per year. The award also contains a rearrangement of categories of workers and we have estimated that as some of our staff rise up in seniority then there will be a further $50,000 required to cover their costs in three years time.

As yet another example, there is the impact on Wesley Home Care. This is the Mission’s home and community care programme, particularly for older Australians. The estimated cost to this service will about $77,200.

To sum up, the Mission would like the Commonwealth Government to make a “whole of government” commitment to fully fund the Commonwealth’s portion of the award, so as to ensure that there is no reduction in the quality of service or cut in staffing. And so we look forward to see what the Treasurer says next Tuesday night on the Commonwealth’s commitment to help maintain social welfare services in this state.

Broadcast On Friday 10th May 2002 On Radio 2GB’s “Brian Wilshire Programme” At 9pm And On 12th May 2002 On “Sunday Night Live” At 10.30pm