NSW Labor is calling for the NSW Government to urgently provide state stimulus to community organisations and charities so they can provide food, shelter and other support to the thousands of people flooding their services needing help.
Services are reporting 20 to 30 per cent increases in demand but no extra funding, and increasing difficulty trying to access basic supplies like food and personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Community organisations are essential services. As NSW deals with this unprecedented health crisis, it is up to the NSW Government to ensure that no one is left behind,” Labor Opposition Leader Jodi McKay said.
Community organisations are at the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis: organisations such as homelessness services, disability services, domestic violence services, neighbourhood centres and local food pantries. They care for isolated older people, children in care, the homeless and many who have just lost their jobs and have no income to feed themselves and their families.
In the Inner West, services offered by the Addison Road Food Pantry, Exodus Foundation, Asylum Seekers Centre and Newtown Neighbourhood Centre are coming under increasing pressure as people face greater uncertainty around food, housing and employment.
"These community groups are a lifeline for a growing number of people and the Government needs to step up and make sure they can keep helping the most vulnerable," said Ms Haylen.
"Inner westies are donating volunteer hours, cash and food to keep them afloat, but the fact is we need a generous Government to match the generosity of our community," Ms Haylen said.
"Now is not the time for the Government to sit on its hands and watch vital community organisations like Addison Road and the Ayslum Seeker Centre be overwhelmed by people in need."
“The NSW Government needs to inject urgent funds to our community organisations to ensure our most vulnerable can access food, shelter and support and organisations can keep this essential workforce safe and healthy,” Ms McKay continued.
Labor is calling on the Government to:
- Create a Community Sector Industry Fund to ensure continuity of service delivery, secure jobs, ramp up of services for people in need and provide guaranteed paid special leave for all workers;
- Establish a $5 million fund for food purchasing for Department of Community Justice funded and non funded services to be able to purchase food and hygiene supplies, and specific assistance with coordination with food wholesalers and retailers to assist with accessing supply of needed goods;
- Set up a dedicated hotline and door-to-door delivery of emergency food packages for people forced to self-isolate due to COVID-19 who have little food and little family support;
- Prioritise access to personal protective equipment for frontline workers in the disability and community sector;
- Immediate purchase and supply of mobile phones, laptops and data cards to the community sector so they can stay in touch with clients as people move to remote delivery;
- Ensure that additional flexible funding for temporary accommodation in hotels/motels is available for homelessness and domestic violence services so that people who have to self isolate can do so safely and with adequate support;
- Request that workers (both public and private sector) who are working from home spend 1-2 hours volunteering with local services with information about where they can go to sign up;
- Guarantee funding for funded services for the next 12 months and relax contract requirements such as KPIs and reporting so that services can respond to the crisis.
“We have to support the services that support others. They are essential for our communities. I urge the government to urgently address these issues,” Labor Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services Penny Sharpe said.