Media Release by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

Morrison to fill critical front line service gaps in Social Service grants

The Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Scott Morrison has announced the Government will provide new bridging funding to ensure continuity of front line community services following the completion of the comprehensive tendering process conducted last year as part of the Department of Social Services, New Way of Working for Grants.

“Social services grants support front line services being delivered in our communities, by our communities. My highest priority as we transition to new arrangements is that access to critical frontline services is not interrupted and we avoid unintended consequences,” Minister Morrison said.

“The bridging funding is about ensuring we don’t allow front line service gaps to emerge in critical areas.

“Providers of ongoing frontline services under the grants programme will have their funding extended to 30 June 2015 while new services are properly established and clients are appropriately referred. For emergency relief service providers we expect a more rapid transition process and will extend current funding arrangements for these services to 31 March 2015.

“The extensions do not relate to one-off projects that may have been funded to provide ad-hoc, trial or short term services. This is about ensuring the continuity of ongoing service in critical front line areas.

“I also want to make sure that as we work through this process we identify any potential front line service gaps that may emerge in critical areas as we transition from former services providers to new ones.

“Where potential critical services gaps or other unintended consequences are identified in areas of priority need, I will seek to address them separately wherever possible, while being mindful of the Government’s significant budget repair task.

“I don’t want to see critical community services fall between the cracks, which is why I have established this new transitional process to work through any issues that may arise.

“Last year the Government undertook a competitive tender for those seeking funding under an $800 million Department of Social Services (DSS) grants round to support a broad range of vital frontline services that support communities around Australia, including families, seniors, Indigenous and cultural and linguistically diverse Australians, as well as some of our most vulnerable.

“The election commitment made by the Government, and implemented through the New Way of Working for Grants, is reducing red tape, improving service delivery, and providing greater flexibility to these service delivery organisations.

“The measure also had the difficult task of absorbing a funding reduction of $271 million as part of the Government’s broader budget repair task. The funding round attracted unprecedented interest from service delivery organisations with more than 5,500 applications, seeking total funding of more than $3.9billion.

“In implementing these savings the Government has focussed on delivering support to front line services in areas of greatest need. In some cases it was the first time many of these grants and those providing services had been subjected to a competitive tender process in decades.

“The Government has also sought to focus on areas of primary Federal responsibility, especially in light of the recent Williams Case that has reframed the funding framework for many services delivered in our communities, and removed the Federal Government from being able to provide direct funding, where previously it may have done so.

“From today, DSS will begin negotiating new funding agreements with the organisations successful in recent grants funding rounds, including around 100 new organisations that will be taking on new service provision responsibilities.

“Over the coming months the Department will closely monitor the new arrangements to ensure programmes are meeting the needs of the community and will make adjustments as required,” Minister Morrison said.