Massive funding cuts to organisations

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South Australia Industry Minister Tom Koutsantonis. PHOTO: CALUM ROBERTSON, ADELAIDENOW.

In July, more than 400 community organisations will see $11.5 million cuts in the funding they were already granted under the Building Multicultural Communities Program by the former Labor government in May 2013, in order to provide one-off funding to community groups and local government bodies in 2013-14.
Amongst the organisations that will suffer the budget cuts are South Australia’s Greek community, which has been left devastated after the Liberal government decision.
The Greek Orthodox Community of Saint Spyridon, in Unley of South Australia, is the most affected, with $68,576 in cuts. The Greek Orthodox Communities of St Raphael in Athelstone and of Nativity of Christ in Port Adelaide will lose $10,000 each, while the Greek Orthodox Community Parish of Norwood will be short $9,800.
Following a review of the Federal Budget, the Abbott government has decided to reduce the scope of the program, with the multicultural grants scheme in the firing line, as the federal government confirmed the grants will be axed in July this year.
Nearly $5 million has already been allocated to the program for 2013-14; the amount later increased to about $14 million. The Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) shows the Coalition government has cut more than $11 million out of the program for the current financial year, with no plans for it to continue into 2014-15.
The Building Multicultural Communities Program offered up to $160,000 to community organisations and local government bodies for small infrastructure projects, with the purpose of enhancing social cohesion.
The axing of the $15 million Building Multicultural Communities Program will directly impact 400 ethnic organisations, with many of those entities already in a difficult financial situation.
Relying on the promised funding by the former Labor government, numerous community groups have already undertaken small projects which will now have to be covered with their own funds.
“From the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, we would like the government to actually be very clear on this and to explain to the communities what its plans are and the reasons behind it. We don’t believe that this should be done just by a letter. Of course it’s appropriate that the organisations that have put in and believed they would be funded receive those letters, but it’s also important to explain publicly and to the communities why, and the rationale behind it,” the chairman of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, Joe Caputo said.
Last year, Coalition senators accused Labor of using multiculturalism grants to ‘pork barrel in the lead-up to the election’, with suggestions the funds were used for things like gym equipment and coffee machines.
However, Father Stavros Psaromatis from the Holy Monastery of Prophet Elias, of the Greek Orthodox Community of Norwood, said the grant was planned for purchasing educational equipment.
“The previous government promised us the funding and it was certain we’d get it. We bought computers and a printer for the needs of the Community Greek School students,” Father Stavros Psaromatis told Neos Kosmos.
As Father Psaromatis explained, the community borrowed money to buy the inventory, relying on the Labor government’s promise for the vital funding.
Now, the infrastructure expenses will have to be paid by the members of the community.
In South Australia, the whole matter will be receiving a greater interest amongst the members of the Greek community as the South Australian state elections are approaching.
Senior state government officials, amongst them Minister for Transport, Infrastructure, Mineral Resources and Energy of the governing Labor party, Tom Koutsantonis, challenged the state opposition leader Steven Marshall and demanded an explanation for what it intends to do to assist Greek organisations and local government bodies that are losing the funding and have already borrowed money to cover their infrastructure upgrades.

source: Neos Kosmos

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