Mr Buswell: Show respect - Fund Warrawee!

Submitted by sam on Sun, 30/09/2012 - 12:00

In recognition of the fact that government contracted community service providers don't get enough money to do their jobs the Barnett government announced to great fanfare in early 2011 that most service providers would get a 25% funding increase in 2011-12 and a further 10% over 2013-14.

However there are two major problems with this “good news” story. The first is that that they are using the increase in funding to contracted not-for-profit providers to mask their big cuts to government provided services, and their program of shifting services from the government to the not-for-profit sector which enables them to slash the wages and conditions of workers in the process. What they are giving with on hand they are more than taking back with the other.

Secondly the Cities of Fremantle and Joondalup run women's refuges and other community services on exactly the same terms as other contracted providers but have not been given the increase. Instead of paying its share, the state government is penny-pinching and trying shift the cost onto the people of Fremantle. Over a three year period this will cost us over $300,000.

Warrawee was the first purpose built women's refuge in Australia. Fremantle has a proud history of supporting the victims of domestic violence. Treasurer Buswell could show just how much he respects women by funding Warrawee equally.

Last year the Mayor wrote to the government to ask why our services were not being funded on an equal basis but has not even received a reply. Councillor Strachan and I moved resolutions at recent council and WA Local Government Association meetings raising the issue again. We're still waiting for an answer.

Council resolution - Local government service providers funding
Cr Jon Strachan & Cr Sam Wainwright

In its 2011-13 budget the State Government provided for a one-off 15% funding increase
to a number of not-for-profit organisations that are contracted to provide community
services on behalf of the state. A second increase averaging 10% is anticipated over the
course of 2013-14.

The purpose of the increase as described in the State budget briefing papers is to address a shortfall in the amount paid by Government to the sector for the services they provide, and to assist not-for-profit organisations to increase salaries to attract and retain quality people who provide valuable care and assistance to the vulnerable and disadvantaged in Western Australia.

In a number of locations across WA local government is State Government's contracted organisation providing such services to the vulnerable and disadvantaged. In some such
locations local government is the only organisation capable of providing these services.
However the State Government has excluded contracted local government service providers from receiving the funding increase. This leaves in place the shortfall between the amounts paid by the Government and the cost of delivering these services by local government. Furthermore local government is usually already paying higher salaries where it is the employer in the human and community services.

To not grant the funding increase to local government is both inequitable an illogical, with
end result being that the cost of providing the service is simply shifted on to ratepayers of the local governments who provide such services.

The needs and dignity of people both receiving and providing these services via local
government should be treated equally.

The City of Fremantle through the Zone representatives, requests WALGA to call on the State Government to immediately readdress this discrepancy by funding local government service providers on equal terms to other not-for-profit community service providers.

WA Local Government Association resolution

Item: Notice of Motion from Crs Wainwright & Strachan (City of Fremantle) regarding funding for State Government contracted community services provided by Local Government

As part of the 2011‐12 State Budget, additional funding of $600 million over four years was allocated to support a sustainable not‐for‐profit sector and ensure that the government pays a fair and appropriate price for services it purchases from the not‐for‐profit sector. From 1 July 2011, a 15% across‐the‐board price adjustment was applied to all eligible not‐for‐profit community service contracts (Component I). A second funding injection of approximately $117 million, equivalent to an average increase of 10% across eligible contracts (Component II) will be rolled out from 1 July 2013 over a two‐year period. This funding will be made available as not‐for‐profit community service contracts are reviewed and linked to the key contracting reforms contained in the Delivering Community Services in Partnership Policy (WA Government Department of Finance Fact Sheet).

The Department of Finance has determined that for the above funding considerations Local Government (LG) cannot be considered a NFP organisation. The result is that for the provision of like-for-like services LG is currently 15% and soon to be 25% behind in funding from the State. This is compounded by additional costs borne by LG relating to staff and openness & accountability.

Some Councils are happy to pass on their community care responsibilities to religious and NFP organisations, however others see provision of such services central to their community responsibilities. Furthermore, some remote Shires do not have NFP services available to their community. Due to different approaches being adopted by different LG there is no one solution that would satisfy all. However support for Councils that wish to provide services should at least get the same funding as NFP.

At the March 2012 WALGA State Council meeting the following motion was adopted:

That WALGA advocate to the WA State Government that funding increases under the Funding and Contracting Reform for Not-for-Profit Community Service Providers should include Local Government and request that Local Government representation be included in the Premier’s Partnership Forum.

The response from the minister has been to reinforce the notion that LG is not a NFP organisation and has not responded to the request for LG representation be included in the Premier’s Partnership Forum.

That WALGA formally contact the Premier advising him:
1. The adverse effect on service provision to the community by some LG brought about by not considering LG as NFP organisations when distributing funding.
2. That LG should be awarded the same State Government funding as NFP organisations when they choose to tender for community services.
3. That LG be included in Component 11 funding arrangements.
4. The need for a LG representative on the Premier’s Partnership Forum.