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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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…”