As a number of people have written on RiotACT recently, SHOUT has been providing an extremely valuable service for a range of self-help and other community organisations for many years.
On Friday I met with the Chair of SHOUT to confirm our earlier discussions regarding the ACT Government’s support for the organisation and its members. I am pleased that the SHOUT Board has agreed to work closely with the Government to develop a sustainable business model.
It is important to be clear that the ACT Government has not cut SHOUT’s funding. The fact is that SHOUT is not currently funded by the ACT Government.
Funding for the Disability ACT program that previously supported SHOUT was transferred to the (Commonwealth) NDIS from 1 July 2016. Current funding comes from the Commonwealth under an NDIS transition arrangement. Therefore simply continuing the current funding arrangements is not an option.
The Government has been working constructively for some time to secure a sustainable future for SHOUT. Because its services were previously assessed as being suitable for the NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building program, we encouraged it to apply for that funding. However, we have also been clear in public statements and conversations with SHOUT that we were looking at alternative or additional sources of funding.
As I have been saying since February, we are committed to working with SHOUT and its members to ensure they continue to get the support they need to do their important work.
Unfortunately, Ms Lee has chosen to misrepresent the Government’s position and the work she knew was going on behind the scenes in the quest for a headline. This has simply exacerbated anxiety and confusion among SHOUT member organisations and the people they support.
Following an exchange of letters with the SHOUT Board, I have asked them to work with the Community Services Directorate, Susan Helyar and appropriate consultants to develop a sustainable model for the future. The Government has committed to funding this process and providing SHOUT with the support it needs to continue providing services while this work is done.
Future funding arrangements will be informed by the outcomes of this process, but I have assured SHOUT in writing that the Government is committed to working with the organisation and its members to develop new, sustainable funding arrangements.