A contingent of Byron Bay community workers and supporters rolled into Lismore yesterday to join a regional protest against the slashing of funding for the poorest in our community by the Abbott and Baird governments.
‘Due to changes in state and federal funding frontline community services are being slashed on the north coast,’ said Paul Spooner, the Labor candidate for Ballina and former Byron Bay Community Centre manager.
Mr Spooner yesterday led a Convoy of Concern to Lismore to support the Save Our Community Services rally.
‘I am concerned about the dramatic effect on people’s lives here on the north coast due to the funding cuts that are happening at an escalating rate to long term community service organisations,’ Mr Spooner said.
‘The Byron Community Centre has seen funding lost for its emergency relief program, [which] has been delivered through the centre for 30 years.
‘St Vincent De Paul have had their emergency relief funding cut by 70 per cent.
‘We have lost emergency accommodation for our youth and adults, as the Byron Emergency Accommodation Project (BEAP) and the Byron Youth House have lost funding.
‘Byron Youth Service, the primary provider of youth services in the Byron Shire, has also lost major funding that includes Youth Connections and Links to Learning programs.
‘On top of this, there is no longer face-to-face services at Centrelink in Byron Bay,’ he said.
It is a similar story around the region, with Australian Services Union NSW deputy secretary Natalie Lang telling local media that, ‘the state and federal governments’ move to strip frontline community services of vital funding is putting the most vulnerable in our community at risk.’
She added that legal services, Aboriginal services, community centres and women’s services were all under threat.