The New South Wales Government has defended a decision to end funding for the Welfare Rights Centre.
The centre helps individuals and families negotiate Centrelink decisions, with clients including vulnerable families, young people, those with disabilities, the unemployed and the elderly.
It has been co-funded by the State Government for the past 30 years.
Centre director Maree O’Halloran argues its work also directly benefits the state.
“Although Centrelink is a Commonwealth agency, the realised benefits happen for New South Wales citizens living in New South Wales, making sure that they have proper income support and no debt and also taking pressure of other New South Wales services,” she said.
Ms O’Halloran says the state’s money will be devastating.
“I hope it’s not a fatal blow,” she said.
“We’re determined to make sure our service can keep providing help to the people we do.
“We have so much case work preventing homelessness, stopping children being removed from homes.
“We are a very important service.”
But the Community Services Minister Pru Goward says her department’s core responsibility now is protecting vulnerable children.
“That’s what our money should be spent on,” she said.
“It’s the Commonwealth’s job to ensure that the Welfare Rights Centre is properly funded to assist it with advice and representation around Centrelink payments and social security law.
“It’s Commonwealth law so it should be Commonwealth funded.”
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