The Queensland State Budget was released last week and has met with a generally positive response from the community service sector.
Jillian Warren from Picabeen Community Association gives her perspective on how the budget measures will affect their clients.
What services do you provide and who are your clients?
Picabeen Community Association is a not-for-profit organisation located in Mitchelton in North West Brisbane. We provide a range of community development and support services that aim to assist people living in North West Brisbane with seeking safe outcomes and gaining increased connectedness to their community.
With its grass roots approach, Picabeen is a unique service that not only provides targeted support services to address the needs of vulnerable people but is also able to accommodate other community members with the provision of universal community services.
How will the budget affect your clients?
The following is a commentary on how some of the specific budget measures (taken from the QCOSS Budget Commentary) will impact on the clients that we work with at Picabeen.
QCOSS welcomes the additional funding of $500,000 for the development of a comprehensive workforce development strategy for the child protection and family support systems and for the development of a capacity-building strategy for non-government organisations as part of the Stronger Families Reforms.
Family work is becoming more and more a part of our work here at Picabeen and we would welcome extra support through government initiatives to be able to adequately respond to the often complex needs that are presenting. If the government funding translated to extra funding for front line services that would certainly be of value to the families that we work with.
While no funding has been allocated to financial counselling or financial resilience programs this year, it is promising that the government has committed to developing and rolling out a $16 million Queensland Financial Resilience and Inclusion Action Plan from 2016-17.
Picabeen has applied for funding two years in a row to provide financial literacy programs, however, both years we have been unsuccessful . This (financial literacy) is an identified major area of need within the community and clients of Picabeen will continue to be affected by poor financial management and skills which help families lead quality lives. The funding applications have been submitted in the hope that we can provide workers trained and skilled in this area and who can deliver programs to vulnerable members of the community . From what is reported in the budget, clients of our centre will still be looking for financial assistance and not gaining skills to help alleviate the pressures they experience.
However, it is disappointing cost-of-living outcomes in relation to electricity, water and transport are likely to remain static or worsen for many vulnerable people.
Picabeen regularly receives calls for assistance for household expenses especially electricity. Unfortunately , Picabeen does not have any emergency assistance funding and is unable to help directly, the best we can do is provide referral information to other centres. Given the budget report, I could only anticipate that there will be continued and increased calls for assistance around the essential household expenses.
We would be concerned if any reallocation of funds negatively impacts existing services for domestic and family violence victims and would argue that this requires a level of transparency to ensure this does not occur. Any reallocation of internal funding should involve consultation with the sector to ensure there aren’t any unintended negative consequences.
From our perspective we would like to see a redistribution of funds so that a DV service could be active at our centre, there is no DV service in our area and a community centre could be the perfect venue for a discreet service.
We are delighted to see delivery of another election promise in the $26.4 million commitment over four years to fund tenancy advice services.
This is a positive step and will benefit clients accessing our centre. Being able to provide the referral pathway to the tenancy advice service will be a relief for many clients. We will also be able to provide access to a telephone for clients to make contact with a tenancy service
We also support the significant investment of $23.6 million over four years to reinstate court ordered youth justice conferencing, and to research enhanced models of delivery.
Picabeen has been rented as a space for youth justice conferences in the past , so this will be a great asset again for young offenders to have a conferencing venue that is close to home and in a non-threatening environment.