17 April 2009
VOLUNTEERS THE VICTIM OF RUDD’S CASH SPLASHES
Senator Mitch Fifield, the Coalition’s spokesman for the voluntary sector, today called on the Rudd Government to guarantee funding under the Volunteer Management Program (VMP) so volunteer organisations can plan for future needs.
“The Rudd Government has thrown $23 billion of cash around like confetti sending cheques to pensioners overseas, deceased people and people in jail. Yet when it comes to supporting our volunteers the Rudd Labor Government have gone in to hiding,” said Senator Fifield.
“Jenny Macklin and Ursula Stephens must immediately guarantee funding for these organisations, or come clean and admit that they will be axed in the upcoming Budget.
“Volunteer organisations have only been told their funding agreements are under ‘review’, which is a typical response from this Government. The current Government’s agreements expire in less than 12 weeks, and volunteer organisations still don’t know if they will receive their funding and if so, how much. These groups have to sign employment contracts and make agreements for the future.”
While the VMP program is in the forward estimates, the Government has not confirmed that this will be honoured in the Budget.
“My office has had a flood of calls from worried volunteer coordinators who face an uncertain future thanks to the Rudd Government’s refusal to guarantee funding past 30 June this year.
“If the program has been axed by Lindsay Tanner’s razor gang, these organisations have the right to know. Newspaper reports suggest they have found $4 billion in savings and if our volunteers coordinators are part of this the Minister should come clean” said Senator Fifield.
“In a challenging economic climate, where the demands on volunteers and not-for-profit organisations are growing, volunteers deserve the certainty of continued funding.”
Under the Volunteer Management Program, Volunteer Resource Centres provide training and activities for organisations engaged in healthcare, welfare, community service and human rights and many other areas. The Coalition substantially expanded the VMP in 2007, increasing the number of VMP funded Volunteer Resource Centres from 24 to approximately 50 provided funding agreements for individual organisations to 30 June 2008 allowing centres to plan ahead with certainty.
Volunteer organisations who have not had their agreements past 30 June guaranteed by FaHCSIA should contact Senator Fifield’s office for assistance.