A community organisation that has contributed to supporting vulnerable Canberrans for over 35 years is set to fold.
What will keep their doors open? Less than 20% of the yearly salary of the head of a government infrastructure project.
SHOUT (Self Help Organisations United Together) is an umbrella organisation that provides core administrative backend support to 47 small community member groups to enable them to deliver front-line services for Canberrans who suffer from a disability or a chronic health condition. And now the ACT Government wants to silence SHOUT for good.
These small community organisations like Bosom Buddies, Arthritis ACT and ACT Down Syndrome Association are run by countless volunteer hours and plenty of heart. Without SHOUT’s support, they will be required to spend more time and resources on admin, taking the already stretched resources away from front line services.
The ACT Government has cited the NDIS as a reason for why it should now divulge itself of any further funding responsibility. An umbrella organisation that provides ‘unseen’ core support to so many groups is not in the business of competing for a tiny slice of pie from every single NDIS participant who has benefited from their services (because most of the time, these benefits are not visible).
Most Canberrans admit that we’re pretty lucky. The world certainly tells us it is (as one of the most liveable and cleanest cities in the world) and I couldn’t agree more; I love living in Canberra.
But we are not immune from the decisions of a government that has been around too long; a government that is taking the Canberra community for granted; a government that spent over $2m on the failed Westside Container Village which could have kept SHOUT open for over 15 years.
After more than 6 months of being left in limbo, on 1 March, the government dismissed SHOUT’s cries for help as premature and as ‘panicking for no reason’. Two weeks later, SHOUT confirmed it will need to close its doors if funding commitment is not made by next week. This was ‘panicking for no reason’.
This week in the Assembly, I will be calling on the government to #shoutoutforSHOUT and even if my voice is in the minority, it’ll be a powerful one because I know it’s the right one.
The government may be prepared to fail the thousands of Canberrans who need it most but I will be doing my best to call on every Member of the Assembly to #shoutoutforSHOUT.