Share has pledged just under $1 million to more than 20 UnitingCare agencies throughout Victoria and Tasmania. It comes after the Federal Government announced it will cut $271 million to social service grants across Australia.
Director of Share, Angela Goodwin, said distributing the funds is an important initiative in a bid to help agencies provide immediate relief to disadvantaged people.
“It’s our way of showing that crucial frontline services should remain financially viable so they can continue to be the first port of call when someone needs assistance,” Ms Goodwin said.
Agencies requested almost $900,000 in order to continue providing vital services – double the amount distributed last year.
Ms Goodwin said agencies are committed to delivering crucial services to local communities.
“They often tell us just how important Share funding is to their work and this is only possible because of the generosity of donors,” Ms Goodwin said.
“Without the churches and public’s contributions and support, people would miss out on accessing emergency relief programs. Providers will be forced to shut their doors and leave clients without somewhere to turn to in times of need.”
One recipient was UnitingCare Geelong. The agency received $80,000 to continue to provide emergency food support at its crisis support headquarters.
The grant will be used to assist around 1000 Geelong residents, including families who don’t have money to buy food and pay for utilities.
Chief Executive Officer Des Younghusband said reduced funding, combined with a rising number of people needing assistance, meant the service is more important than ever.
“We’re committed to helping any Geelong resident that walks through our doors and give them a sense of hope that there are places they can turn to,” Mr Younghusband said.
“The money from Share helps us to reach out to more people who experience financial hardship. With the cost of living pushing families to the brink, we’re committed to continuing the established and reputable service.”
Geelong’s unemployment rate of 6.2 per cent meant more people are suffering from food vulnerability with local schools reporting some students continually go without breakfast.
“For Geelong families, they’re finding that keeping up with utilities, unexpected medical bills, and schooling costs are placing pressure on the family budget,” Mr Younghusband said.
“We’re seeing more vulnerable people facing housing shortages because they’re unable to afford essentials like food and clothing.”
UnitingCare Geelong is an emergency relief agency that provides practical assistance to 5,500 locals a year who experience financial and personal hardship.