Emergency relief and -financial counselling funding cuts affect those most in need

Emma McBride

Neighbourhood Centres at Wyong and San Remo are feeling the squeeze since the Federal Government cut funding by $9M a year from emergency relief and financial counselling.

Federal Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, said the Wyong Neighbourhood Centre, the sole provider of emergency funding, would lose $140,089 as part of these cruel cuts.

The Centre provides emergency funding to individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Life Member and retired President of the Centre, Dawn Hooper, said this funding is used to assist women and children fleeing from violence.

“Taking this money away from the Neighbourhood Centre is a very cruel thing to do to people who are living from day to day,” Hooper said.

“It is very hard on the staff because they have to be so tough on people who don’t deserve to be treated like that.”

The Centre’s manager, Kylie Hopkins, said the previous level of funding was $140,089 for the Wyong area only, but now only $100,000 per year is the total available for Wyong and outreach services at Toukley and Wyoming.

“Vulnerable people who can no longer be assisted by the Centre will not be able to rely on neighbouring services either,” Hopkins said.

The San Remo Neighbourhood Centre has also had its emergency relief funding cut by $20,840.

Its manager, Cr Jillian Hogan, said the reduced funds also covered Charmhaven, Blue Haven and The Entrance.

“There are more people, not less, living in hardship,” Hogan said.
Since January 1, the San Remo Centre has provided emergency relief to families affected by the Charmhaven bushfire.

“We helped a 15-year-old Blue Haven girl who burnt her back trying to save her house,” Hogan said.

McBride said that as a pharmacist in Wyong she dispensed prescription medication for patients paying with emergency relief vouchers.

“It was the only way they could afford their medicine,” McBride said.

“Federally funded emergency relief and financial counselling services help families in times of crisis.

“They help people keep food on the table, a roof over their heads and the electricity connected, and provide support including: food, transport and chemist vouchers; part-payment of utility accounts; food parcels and clothing; the National Debt Help Line; and, financial counselling, budgeting and help managing creditors.

“In a cynical pre-election move, the Morrison Government committed to a one-year funding extension for many services, but that is now coming to an end,” McBride said.

Media release, Feb 11
Emma McBride, Federal Member for Dobell