FUNDING cuts to emergency relief services have hit the Mornington Peninsula region hard.
Managers of community support and information centres say they are struggling to provide for the increasing food, clothing and welfare demands across the peninsula.
Rosebud, Hastings and Mornington support and information centres are usually the first point of contact for those in dire need in the local community.
They provide food vouchers, food parcels, assist with payments, provide advocacy and budgeting assistance and, generally, work in the best interests of those struggling.
But the welfare services are reeling from Department of Social Services funding cuts which stripped the region of more than $85,000 in emergency relief funding this financial year.
“These cuts are unacceptable given that many residents accessing the support and information centres are living on, or below, the poverty line,” Southern Peninsula Community Support and Information Centre manager Jackie Currie said.
“Many residents who are on fixed and low incomes have also experienced a reduction to their Centrelink payments recently through pension reforms.
“They are paying high rental and utility costs together with the ever increasing costs of day to day living expenses, such as food and fresh produce, education expenditure, essential medications and fuel.”
She said the department had also removed funding for intensive case management services to residents in crisis. The three support and information centres have vowed to continue these vital case management services despite the funding cuts.
“The emergency relief program is fantastic in helping those in crisis manage their immediate needs,” said Ms Currie, who is based at Rosebud.
“However, the case management program enables people to achieve real sustainable change, getting them out of the ‘crisis cycle’ all together.
“While we are doing everything we can to be innovative, these funding cuts simply mean we will have to deliver less and the most vulnerable in our community will suffer.”
Mornington Community Information and Support Centre manager Lisa Elliott said: “We have been incredibly hard hit and now have to look to our community to help fund these programs.”
Westernport Community Support manager John Fraser – based at Hastings – said: “The reduction in emergency relief funding is extremely disappointing.
“The information and support centres provide one of the few safety nets available to the marginalised, vulnerable and financially challenged members of the community.
“One of their main roles is to assist those who are most at risk and who are experiencing a short-term crisis.”
For more information or to make a donation to the community support and information centres contact:
Southern Peninsula Community Support and Information Centre, 878 Pt Nepean Rd, PO Box 91, Rosebud, 3939, call 5986 1285 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Westernport Community Support, 185 High St, PO Box 93, Hastings, 3915, call 5979 2762 or email: email@example.com
Mornington Community Information and Support Centre, 320 Main St, Mornington, 3931, call 5975 1644 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org