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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 63


Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (13:54): Holroyd Community Aid has been out working in the local Merrylands community for almost 50 years. They are well respected and well known for their work. Recently they lost their funding thanks to the Abbott government's cruel cuts to the Social Services Discretionary Grants Program. Notice that the cuts reached the inboxes of community organisations just before Christmas, and for Holroyd Community Aid on 24 December, after they had already closed for the break. Narelle Morris, the manager of Holroyd Community Aid, has told me of her shock when she returned from her Christmas break to find out that they will have to close up shop as early as March. The Emergency Relief Grants allowed Holroyd Community Aid to provide essential relief services, including food and electricity vouchers and money for medication, clothes and nappies, to local families who are struggling. They have helped upwards of one million people since they opened, helping people out in the short term and helping them to get back on their feet.

Opening up the grants program to a competitive tender meant that the department was overwhelmed with 5½ thousand applications. It was a confusing process in which smaller local organisations were unable to compete with national and state-based organisations. It was a process that favoured the big over the small. With these cruel cuts, Holroyd Community Aid and several other organisations in my local community will be forced to close as early as March. It demonstrates once again the government's lack of understanding of the needs of the community and the valuable contribution that small organisations make.