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Catholic Welfare challenges Govt on disability funding

The Australian Catholic Bishops' Committee for Social Welfare yesterday called on the Commonwealth Government to maintain funding for disability services in the coming Federal Budget.

Recent media reports have indicated that the Commonwealth plans to cut disability funding to the States by $91 million. The funding in question is part of a series of bilateral agreements made in July 2000 between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories to begin to address some of the unmet need for disability services in Australia. These services were to be directed to assist aging carers in urgent need of support. The cuts to funding will seriously affect the availability and level of service and further stretch an already significantly under-resourced sector.

"Any cuts to services will particularly affect aging carers who have supported and cared for disabled family members for many years. These people have saved Governments vast amounts of money over many years," said Secretary of the Bishops' Committee for Social Welfare, Bishop Patrick Power. "They are now being asked once again to carry the burden to balance the budget when we should be doing all we can to relieve their burden. We urge the Government to honour the commitments they made in July 2000 to maintain this funding beyond the 30th of June 2002."

Bishop Power added: "We are concerned to hear predictions that people with disabilities who rely on social security pensions to make ends meet will be a particular focus of this Budget's savings drive to bankroll the Border Protection initiatives and the War on Terrorism."

"We urge the Government not to forget the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our community" said Bishop Power. "On Budget night we would like to see the Federal Government maintain access to Disability Services and Pensions and the levels of these Pensions remain in tact."

Catholic Welfare Australia

Catholic Welfare Australia

9 May 2002