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Budget cuts will bite

THE Queensland State Budget delivered on 11 September announced funding cuts to the community services sector.

Community service providers and unions say Queenslanders should expect widespread effects as programs providing vital services in health, education, tenancy advice, job placement and training, and youth and family support are cut or have their funding reduced.

CEO of UnitingCare Queensland Anne Cross commented on the impacts: "The budget will mean cuts to a range of UnitingCare Community programs as part of the government's plan to reduce the state's deficit."

The actual impacts on our services are now being worked through, but the Queensland community services sector will face cuts of $259.7 million over four years," she says.

Bob Gilkes, Executive Director of UnitingCare Community, reports that the third year of cuts (2014–2015) will have the most impact.

At the end of December this year, neighbourhood centres across Queensland and community development services in north and central Queensland will have their funding cut by 10 per cent after the first $100 000.

Other services will be cut by smaller amounts.

The closure and funding cuts to neighbourhood centres will mean a loss of services that play a vital role in supporting vulnerable families, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

These cost-cutting measures will also negatively impact Queensland's marginalised young people, with organisations providing youth-at-risk and youth support programs affected.

The Queensland Council of Social Service says that removing Youth Support Coordinators will put 16 000 young people at risk of disengaging from their education and limiting their employment prospects.

The youth sector faces further threat with the decision to cut all funding to Youth Affairs Network Queensland (YANQ), the only peak body for the youth sector in Queensland, by 31 December 2012.

YANQ provides essential services to a wide network of non-government youth services that will now be left without network support and advocacy on youth issues.

The Uniting Church in Queensland will continue to monitor the issues and inform communities and individuals about their implications.

An online petition has been launched by YANQ, requesting that the Minister for Communities, Tracy Davis, restore their funding. Sign the petition.

Visit www.rooftopqld.org to express your concerns about these changes in the community sector, anonymously if you wish.

Fast Facts

14 000 Jobs lost in Queensland Public Service

UnitingCare Community services cut by:

10% Funds over $100 000 for neighbourhood centres funded @ > $100 000

3.75% Child safety services

1% Foster care and out-of-home care

100% Youth support programs and youth support coordinators

$7–8m to be found by UnitingCare Community in efficiencies by June 2015