Federal government slashes Vinnies funding without explanation

Genevieve Jacobs 17 December 2018 34

While Vinnies shops are a significant funding source, major Federal government cuts have left the local organisation reeling. Photo: Supplied.

The Canberra Goulburn council of the St Vincent de Paul Society has been blindsided by a massive drop in Federal emergency funding.

$335,000 of funding for crisis assistance on food, rent and electricity across the region – comprising the ACT and most of southeastern NSW as far west as Lake Cargelligo – will be slashed by 25 per cent from 2020.

Warwick Fulton, president of the Canberra Goulburn Vinnies Council, said the defunding had come as a major shock to the organisation, which is fully compliant with all funding requirements. “It came completely out of the blue and our CEO thought there must be a mistake,” he said.

“We have been doing this for 20 years and never had a problem before, so we asked what had gone wrong. But all we’ve received from Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Families and Social Services is a response saying there’s no mistake and the cuts will go ahead. No reasons or explanations were given.” The charity is now seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister for clarification.

The cuts come on the back of a year in which Vinnies has already reached deep into its pockets and those of its donors to support Tathra bushfire victims and provide drought relief to rural areas in crisis. While the ACT government provides some additional emergency funding, the NSW government only donates electricity vouchers, which Mr Fulton says are useful but limited.

This is likely to mean that the cuts will be felt most severely in rural and regional areas. Mr Fulton said that the funding is generally used for people in desperate straits who cannot pay their rent or power bills. About 60 per cent will also need food for their families.

“This is not optional support, it’s key work and if we can’t get the decision reversed, the only option is to look at cutting other support services. It’s a real Hobson’s choice,” Mr Fulton said. The charity is also concerned that the new arrangement could be embedded in future funding contracts if not overturned.

St Vincent de Paul has noted a significant rise in demand for emergency assistance in recent years, which they believe is related to the Newstart allowance. At $272.90 per week, the charity says that it’s increasingly difficult to make ends meet in Canberra where the median house rental sits at $540, and little better in rural and regional areas.

A significant proportion of the charity’s funding comes from donations and shop sales, but Mr Fulton said that a difficult year made Vinnies loathe to turn to donors for further support. He added that the Tathra bushfire appeal and drought appeal had exhausted donors and that giving for the annual Christmas appeal is down around 30 per cent this year as a result.

“The whole thing seems quite chaotic,” Mr Fulton says. “If there are sound reasons for cutting our funds, then tell us and we’ll try to fix it. We’re not asking people to put their hands in their pockets. Instead, we would appreciate them lobbying their local politicians.”

Within government ranks, the rural and regional parts of the Canberra Goulburn branch’s footprint are largely represented by the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack and energy minister Angus Taylor, while the coastal and Monaro regions are represented by Labor MP Mike Kelly.

“I think we’ve got to go and hit the government pretty hard and that’s what we’d doing,” he said.


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34 Responses to Federal government slashes Vinnies funding without explanation
Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:32 pm 18 Dec 18

Any future government has two chances of achieving a surplus in the future, none and Buckley’s.

Just ask Wayne Swan how easy it is.

Laura Frame Laura Frame 5:27 pm 18 Dec 18

Congratulations on your "surplus" assholes.

Maelinar Maelinar 4:54 pm 18 Dec 18

I’m for this because I don’t agree with the ongoing outsourcing of what is a Government responsibility to stale organisations who are dependent on the public purse. Shake it up a little.

Vinnies will respond by either coming out from under the teat of Government funding and standing on its own feet, or by failing to provide a need, where the Government of the day will either re-assess the funding level provided to Vinnies, or support another organisation who will likely have a different approach – who knows it might be more successful.

    Kent Street Kent Street 2:25 pm 20 Dec 18

    With respect, that makes absolutely no sense.

    You don’t want the government to fund stale service providers because that service provision should be administered by the government?
    The money is still being spent and the services are still delivered.
    Somehow, you think that Vinnies, Salvos, etc are stale but Federal Government departments and programmes are not?
    And, there are a whole lot more volunteers working for them than the government.

M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 10:27 am 18 Dec 18

I agree it should restore Vinnies' funding immediately. I propose we do this by closing down useless bodies such as the Australian Human Rights Commission. Would be a windall for many charities.

justin heywood justin heywood 10:27 am 18 Dec 18

Number of people who have used this article to have a bash their enemy of choice (Catholic church, Liberals etc.) (estimated): 7

Number of these people who have increased their own charity work/donations (estimated): 0

Helen McIntosh Carpenter Helen McIntosh Carpenter 10:00 am 18 Dec 18

I haven’t heard this, fake news I think....Labor trash again.

Flip Dover Flip Dover 7:35 am 18 Dec 18

Here’s a thought, ask the Catholic Church - it’s their business after all. They have more money than the government (which is OUR money) ever will.

    Kytie Mclign Kytie Mclign 11:28 am 18 Dec 18

    Flip Dover And Vinnies uses that money to provide services to us ....

    Flip Dover Flip Dover 11:54 am 18 Dec 18

    Kytie Mclign clearly not enough if they are reliant on our taxes to prop them up. Do you have any idea how wealthy the Catholic Church is? I love the work charities do, but a charity run by one of the richest entities in the world is a bit hypocritical don’t you think?

    I have similar issues with the money spent in the name of ‘defence’. It’s money spent for the purpose of killing people. Surely that money would be better off spent of saving lives, not killing them?

    Rhonda Anne Rhonda Anne 9:32 pm 18 Dec 18

    Vinnies is not run by the Catholic church. It's a lay Catholic organisation, totally independent.

    Flip Dover Flip Dover 9:39 pm 18 Dec 18

    Rhonda Anne well who knew. Lol. I take it all back.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:42 pm 17 Dec 18

I understand that Vinnies and most of the other religious-centric charities spend most of their money on migrants coming to Canberra through various programmes. I am not saying that is necessarily a bad thing but it gives a perception of an uneven playing field when there are already enough resident homeless an down-and-outers here.

Sure, it’s been tough for the Tathra bushfire victims but if people do not take out insurance why should the rest of the community and its charities have to share their losses too?

Charity begins at home.

Joanne Hardy Brown Joanne Hardy Brown 8:50 pm 17 Dec 18

Loathe this government, where is the compassion 😢

    Helen McIntosh Carpenter Helen McIntosh Carpenter 9:59 am 18 Dec 18

    Jo Maria, would you prefer the alternate option....Labor/Greens. You will have lots more to loathe if they win Government...be careful what you vote for.

    Laura Frame Laura Frame 5:28 pm 18 Dec 18

    Jo Maria der... more people should just be rich... 🙄

    Joanne Hardy Brown Joanne Hardy Brown 5:36 pm 18 Dec 18

    Laura Frame and it’s their own fault if they’re not, right? 😉

    Joanne Hardy Brown Joanne Hardy Brown 5:38 pm 18 Dec 18

    Helen McIntosh Carpenter I don’t like any of them but this government doesn’t even pretend to disguise its disdain for the less advantaged members of society!!

Bek Clark Bek Clark 7:52 pm 17 Dec 18

This news is shocking considering how self congratulatory the government is about having a surplus.

Here’s a crazy notion - not being a bank, you shouldn’t really have big shiny surpluses, should you? That’s essential services Australians aren’t getting?

    M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 10:29 am 18 Dec 18

    You "shouldn't really" have a surplus? Where does than take us then long-term?

    Greg Garth Greg Garth 10:40 am 18 Dec 18

    Martin Leonard Since Federation how many surpluses have we had?

    Chris Williams Chris Williams 5:03 pm 18 Dec 18

    Martin Leonard Gov surplus = Private deficit. We already have too much private debt. Therefore surplus now = bad.

Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 7:45 pm 17 Dec 18

Well hello we are talking about a evangelical prime minister

Rauny Worm Rauny Worm 7:20 pm 17 Dec 18


Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 7:10 pm 17 Dec 18

War Memorial just received nearly half a billion, and a barrier reef charity $400+ million that they didn’t ask for. Astonishing decisions, and charities and the less well

off pay for it.

Fortress Epiphany Fortress Epiphany 6:23 pm 17 Dec 18

What level of funding did St Vinnies previously get and what was it used for?

    Skye Rutherford Skye Rutherford 6:35 pm 17 Dec 18

    Full transparency in how religious organisations use funding!

    Fortress Epiphany Fortress Epiphany 6:55 pm 17 Dec 18

    Skye Rutherford I’m wondering why “we” as taxpayers are funding a religious charity designed to then raise money to give away? If you need funding to give money away, you need to re-look at how you run your organization. Does taking funding mean that your admins costs are so high that, without taxpayer subsidization, you couldn’t give money to those who need it.

    Bonnie Johnson Bonnie Johnson 8:10 am 18 Dec 18

    Ann Chaplin I think it’s more that charities like this pick up the pieces where the government doesn’t. These are emergency relief food packages, emergency housing when there isn’t enough public housing etc.) They also run education programs to pull people out of poverty, relieving pressure on govt again. These agencies are very cost efficient, perhaps you should try volunteering to learn more

    Andrew Wadey Andrew Wadey 9:50 am 18 Dec 18

    Just 2 mins on Google would show that Vinnies (and other charities) do so much more than "give money away." Government funding goes to providing education and training to assist people to get employment, help people find housing, connect people to mental health services, just to name a few. A little less religion bashing and a little more Googling would make a big difference.

    Fortress Epiphany Fortress Epiphany 10:00 am 18 Dec 18

    Andrew Wadey it’s not just Vinnies. So, in effect, what you are saying is that the Government are funding Vinnies (and others) welfare work rather than simply subsidizing Vinnies admin costs? The more honest thing would be for Vinnies to live within their means and help less people or tighten their administration costs. Our taxes need to go toward infrastructure etc which helps all Australian, not have the Government decide for us which charity we will be “donating” to.

    Kytie Mclign Kytie Mclign 11:26 am 18 Dec 18

    Ann Chaplin The 25% cut is to their emergency funding ... and charities (whether they religious or not) are generally able to provide services more "affordably" for the government because many of their employees are not exactly highly paid, and some even do it for free (volunteers).

Julie Coker-Godson Julie Coker-Godson 6:22 pm 17 Dec 18

This isn't the first time the current government has done this. The Uniting Church (Pivot Point) in Batemans Bay had their funding stripped from them as well and there is plenty of need down here. I'm disgusted with the government for this.

Shell Keogh Shell Keogh 6:09 pm 17 Dec 18

And the art gallery just received 63 million in government funding....

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