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ALP, Greens all talk and no action on our most vulnerable

By Elizabeth Lee MLA - 28 March 2017 9

ACT Legislative Assembly

Last week, I moved a motion calling on the ACT Government to fund SHOUT (Self-Help Organisations United Together); an umbrella organisation that provides back-end administrative and infrastructure support for 47 member groups and affiliates.

Despite best efforts, my motion was defeated in the Assembly as ACT Greens and ACT Labor voted against my motion seeking funding of $110,000 to keep alive a group that supports some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Over the past few days, groups such as Bosom Buddies, Tjillari Justice Aboriginal Corporation, the Friends of the Brain Injured Children and the ME/CFS Society have all come out publicly to express their dismay at SHOUT’s impending closure and to talk about the tragic effects it would have on their ability to continue providing valuable services to the Canberrans who need it most.

For all the rhetoric from the government and cross benches about their commitment to looking after members of our community that need it most, when the time came to act, the ACT Greens and ACT Labor refused.

For all the rhetoric about the ACT Government remaining “committed to working with SHOUT” and other organisations, when the time came to act, the ACT Greens and ACT Labor failed.

For all the rhetoric about the ACT Government not “forsaking our community”, when the time came to act, the ACT Greens and ACT Labor ignored the plight of thousands of Canberrans who are still at a loss to understand this decision by their own government.

The ACT Government has attempted to deflect responsibility by saying that SHOUT is funded by the Commonwealth in the transition to the NDIS. If we accept that this is the case, then I (and I’m sure members of our community) have a few questions:

  1. why did it leave SHOUT in limbo for more than 6 months when it clearly knew that SHOUT was extremely concerned about its uncertain future?
  2. SHOUT is clearly facing an uncertain future within the funding model under the NDIS. Why is the ACT Government refusing to step in when it has clearly demonstrated it will do so for other organisations that lost other funding, such as the Environmental Defenders Office?
  3. is it the ACT Government’s view that the SHOUT model (of small, community organisations pooling together administrative resources instead of each of the 47 member groups and affiliates each having their own administrative burden) is an unsustainable one and if so, what business model are you advocating and why has this not been communicated to SHOUT and its member groups and affiliates?

As I stated in the Assembly last week, “the reason that I wanted to be a Member of the Legislative Assembly is to give a voice to those who may not be in a position to do it for themselves. And today, I stand here…to lend that voice to some of Canberra’s most vulnerable. And today, I ask – I call on – and I implore the government to stand with me to do the same…”

What’s Your opinion?


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9 Responses to
ALP, Greens all talk and no action on our most vulnerable
1
Grail 2:59 pm
28 Mar 17
#

Can you link the text of your motion and bill? Not that I don’t believe you but Liberals supporting social services in any capacity other than photo opportunities or looking after vested interests triggers my bull detector.

The Hansard shows opposition interjecting when Ms Le Couteur asked whether funding would be assured.

The Government replied that they already provide support to many of the members of SHOUT.

Perhaps MLA Lee could explain where SHOUT previously drew funding from and why that source has dried up? As it stands the answer to that question was interrupted several times by the ACT Liberals on the Assembly Question Time as indicated by the Hansard.

The answer — which Ms Lee will of course talk around without addressing directly — is that SHOUT previously received funding from NDIS which the Turnbull Government is winding back because withholding services for poor people is more appetising to them than taxing the people with the money.

2
thelonius 3:18 pm
28 Mar 17
#

Oh, my. A Liberal opposition politician accusing the ALP and Greens of not being compassionate toward the disadvantaged. #Irony

3
Garfield 3:35 pm
28 Mar 17
#

All three are very good questions Elizabeth, although I will not hold my breath waiting for Labor & the Greens to provide answers. Also, welcome to the RiotACT.

4
Mysteryman 3:54 pm
28 Mar 17
#

thelonius said :

Oh, my. A Liberal opposition politician accusing the ALP and Greens of not being compassionate toward the disadvantaged. #Irony

No, she’s accusing them of hypocrisy. And she’s right to do so.

But hey, don’t address the substance of her claims. Go straight to the ad hominem instead – straight from the lefty playbook.

5
Elizabeth Lee MLA 6:27 pm
28 Mar 17
#

Grail said :

Can you link the text of your motion and bill? Not that I don’t believe you but Liberals supporting social services in any capacity other than photo opportunities or looking after vested interests triggers my bull detector.

The link of the full debate (including my motion) is here: http://www.hansard.act.gov.au/hansard/2017/pdfs/P170322.pdf

SHOUT used to be funded by Disability ACT. Since the introduction of the NDIS, the ACT Government are stating that SHOUT should be funded by the NDIS. SHOUT have made it very clear that they are not eligible for any long-term funding under the NDIS. It does not help community organisations with very limited resources to not be given a clear answer for well over 6 months especially when that answer is now, as it transpires, a simple “no the ACT won’t fund you”.

I assure you, I have also made representations to my federal colleagues.

I reiterate my point in the article – leaving aside exactly where the funding does or should come from, the ACT Government has previously demonstrated that it will step in when Cth funding fails; an example is the Environmental Defender’s Office. Why EDO and not SHOUT? I and I’m sure the members and affiliates of SHOUT would like an explanation and to date, no satisfactory reason has been provided.

6
Grail 8:19 pm
28 Mar 17
#

Elizabeth Lee MLA said :

Grail said :

Can you link the text of your motion and bill? Not that I don’t believe you but Liberals supporting social services in any capacity other than photo opportunities or looking after vested interests triggers my bull detector.

The link of the full debate (including my motion) is here: http://www.hansard.act.gov.au/hansard/2017/pdfs/P170322.pdf

and from that transcript:

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee): … Support has also been provided to SHOUT to help the organisation prepare for NDIS transition, including a $20,000 grant in 2014 to support adjustments to the new NDIS funding environment. The ACT government also secured $124,790 in transition funding for SHOUT from the commonwealth for 2016-17. Following a delay in processing the ILC funding round, the minister announced that the government negotiated a further two-month extension to the transition funding allowance until August 2017.

It appears to me that the only uncertainty is whether Federal funding will come through. It also seems that promising to provide through any Federal funding shortfall is exactly what the Federal government wants: states picking up the tab (and especially states/territories that aren’t Liberal-leaning). After all, if the ACT picks up the slack, there’s less pressure on the Federal government to fund NDIA (and thus SHOUT) properly.

It appears that this message of fear and panic is just the Liberal party trying to make everything Labor’s fault, as usual.

7
mandalin 10:02 pm
28 Mar 17
#

Crail – SHOUT was funded by Disability ACT through Commonweath Disability funding. The ACT Government made an agreement to tranfer the disability funding to the NDIS. In doing so, there were a number of organisations that were funded by Disability ACT that were unlikely to meet the criteria to fit under the NDIS….Disability ACT were aware of this. In fact SHOUT representatives met with senior executives of Disability ACT in 2013/14 to raise their concern that SHOUT would not qualify under NDIS but they were basicaly fobbed off.
Prior to being funded by Disability ACT, SHOUT came under Health and Community Services and it’s original funding was under Education and Community Services. With the rearrangement of ACT Government departments over the years it ended up with Disability ACT.
There was a promise at some stage that the organisations that didn’t really fall under NDIS would be given some support, but I think that has actually been forgotten and the truth is, those in a position, at the time, to put something in place, neglected to do so.
Yes, SHOUT was given “Transitional” funding, however all the while telling the ACT Government that it did not fit the criteria to actually transition to an NDIS provider!

8
Grail 11:25 am
29 Mar 17
#

How is SHOUT not eligible for funding when it falls under a specific category of Information, Linkages and Capacity building, which is currently under consideration?

https://www.ndis.gov.au/ILC-FAQ-Organisations

Note the special mention of the ACT, with November being an important date.

9
HiddenDragon 5:21 pm
29 Mar 17
#

Jon Stanhope has been publicly critical of the ACT Government’s handling of this – it’s not just the Liberals.

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