Last week, the NSW Government announced the successful applicants for the Community Builders Fixed Term funding.
The program funds not-for-profit organisations and local councils to deliver local projects to support local communities and connect vulnerable people with their community.
This year there were 12 successful projects announced across NSW, totalling just over $2.1 million.
Sounds pretty good, right? Except that the previous round funded 67 projects across NSW with a total of $9.7 million. Thus this year’s round represents an overall decrease of 78 per cent funding.
Community Builders is an important program and one of the only options for local not-for-profit services to get any real project development funds to work with people dealing with difficult social problems such as poverty, social exclusion, housing stress / homelessness and unemployment.
The Illawarra is fortunate to have great people in the community sector who are able to develop innovative projects that build on individual’s and community strengths to enable people to lead fuller, more engaged lives.
But these projects need Government support and funding to enable them to be delivered.
It is heartening that the NSW State Government Plan – NSW 2021 has as one of its goals to “better protect the most vulnerable members of our community and break the cycle of disadvantage”.
And the newly released Regional Action Plan includes a priority to “deliver improved health and community services particularly for vulnerable communities”.
But this latest announcement begs the question - how can the NSW government support vulnerable communities if it strips vital funding to this degree?
Nicky Sloan is CEO of The Illawarra Forum, the peak body working for the community services and organisations in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven. The Forum supports community organisations, promotes expertise and innovation in community development, fosters industry development and advocates for social justice.