Cuts in the parliament, cuts in the press

Cross-posted from Barrycutscommunitybleeds, a new campaign blog about cuts to community services in NSW, supported by F. Check it out and please share.

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In parliament this week it was budget estimates, where Ministers and department heads answer questions about their department budgets and activities.

I went to the session on Community Services and Women.

Helen Westwood and Sophie Cotsis MLCs had been approached to ask questions on behalf of F collective, LWRC and WEL, and they went hard for us.

NSW Minister for Community Services Pru Goward seems to be giving contradictory statements about the nature of the ‘Savings Strategy’ document that recommends community service cuts, and in Estimates essentially seemed to be saying she hadn’t commissioned it and hadn’t seen it before.

When she was asked about LWRC directly she said “We have to make sure we are getting value for money… The funding will continue until the review is completed and we are clear we are getting value for money.”

While this sounds eminently reasonable on the face of it, a few things to think about:

a) Of all people, Minister Goward should be familiar with the work that these services do, most of which relates to women and children and can’t be provided by Government.

b) Community services have very low paid and high skilled staff, as demonstrated in the recent Community Services equal pay case. The staffing is bloody great ‘value for money’, because the government underpays these workers and has done for years.

c) the service she was particularly referring to, Liverpool Women’s Resource Centre, does amazing and valuable work in the sector. Just ask the service users.

So no assurances yet folks – we need to keep fighting!

There’s been two articles in the SMH about community cuts in the last week, both by Jo Tovey.

Child sex assault services on hit-list

FUNDING for child sexual assault services and the child protection helpline are on a hit-list as part of cuts of almost half a billion dollars over the next four years to community services in NSW. The cuts are part of a series of proposals revealed in a leaked departmental briefing note to meet savings targets.

Goward rules out axing child protection helpline

Ms Goward said she would not rule out funding reductions to the child protection helpline or child sexual assault programs as mooted in the document. But she did rule out abolishing the helpline altogether.

The title of the second article is a bit misleading. While NSW Minister for Community Services Pru Goward ruled out axing the line altogether, she wouldn’t rule out cuts to any of the services we’ve listed on this site, and she was also unclear about how long internal reviews would take. More on this soon.

We have an action in the works for the 23rd Oct at 12.30pm – more details soon, put it in your diaries!

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