Greens give to MP’s autism walk, call for more support MORNINGTON Peninsula Greens have donated money to Flinders MP Greg Hunt’s Walk for Autism. The $100 donation was handed to Mr Hunt, the federal environment minister, during his lunch break at Rye last Thursday along with a letter asking him to “fight harder for additional support for people with autism”. “We know you will receive this letter in the friendly spirit of community engagement and cross party support for which it was meant. We look forward to find more common ground in the future.” The MP is again walking 500km around his electorate for charity, this time to raise funds for peninsula-based Abacus Learning Centre, which provides therapy for children with autism, and Amaze (Autism Victoria). Previous walks in 2004, 2007 and 2011 raised money for diabetes research and autism. He started at Arthurs Seat on 20 July and finishes at Cowes on Phillip Island on 7 August. Mr Hunt is running his environment portfolio on the run, so to speak. Last Wednesday he was shown striding into the tourism information centre in Dromana to change from fluoro walking gear into a suit before fronting the media to criticise Labor’s clean energy target of 50 per cent by 2030. Last Thursday, Greens peninsula convener Malcolm Brown congratulated Mr Hunt on his “commitment to and leadership of raising awareness of children dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder”. “This group of people in our society deserve support to be the most produc-
tive citizens that they can become as well as lead fulfilling lives,” he said. “We believe that you could do more by: Reversing the cuts made to Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia. Guaranteeing future funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Ensuring more funding for early intervention for children on the autism spectrum. Ensuring a needs-based school funding system. Ensuring that students with high needs are specifically funded as a part of this system. Delivering on the fifth and sixth years of ‘Gonski’ funding.” Mr Hunt, speaking by phone while walking between Rye and Blairgowrie, and heading toward the 100km mark, told The News he and Senator Mitch Fifield had fought to get autism included in the NDIS, “a huge step forward from the previous government”. “Lots of parents [of children with autism] said this was the most important thing to happen in Australia,” he said. Thirty per cent of people taking part at NDIS trial sites have autism and 70 per cent of those were children aged between two and five, he said. Mr Hunt hopes to raise $25,000 for the two causes. Mike Hast Respect: Australian Greens convener on the peninsula Malcolm Brown with federal Flinders MP Greg Hunt and Derek Fagan, of Statewide Autistic Services at Rye last Thursday, where the Greens donated to Mr Hunt’s Walk for Autism fund. Picture: Yanni
Cuts unacceptable – welfare services Stephen Taylor email@example.com FUNDING cuts to emergency relief services have hit the Mornington Peninsula region hard. Managers of community support and information centres say they are struggling to provide for the increasing food, clothing and welfare demands across the peninsula. Rosebud, Hastings and Mornington support and information centres are usually the first point of contact for those in dire need in the local community. They provide food vouchers, food parcels, assist with payments, provide advocacy and budgeting assistance and, generally, work in the best inter-
ests of those struggling. But the welfare services are reeling from Department of Social Services funding cuts which stripped the region of more than $85,000 in emergency relief funding this financial year. “These cuts are unacceptable given that many residents accessing the support and information centres are living on, or below, the poverty line,” Southern Peninsula Community Support and Information Centre manager Jackie Currie said. “Many residents who are on fixed and low incomes have also experienced a reduction to their Centrelink payments recently through pension reforms. “They are paying high rental and utility costs together with the ever
increasing costs of day to day living expenses, such as food and fresh produce, education expenditure, essential medications and fuel.” She said the department had also removed funding for intensive case management services to residents in crisis. The three support and information centres have vowed to continue these vital case management services despite the funding cuts. “The emergency relief program is fantastic in helping those in crisis manage their immediate needs,” said Ms Currie, who is based at Rosebud. “However, the case management program enables people to achieve real sustainable change, getting them out of the ‘crisis cycle’ all together. “While we are doing everything we
can to be innovative, these funding cuts simply mean we will have to deliver less and the most vulnerable in our community will suffer.” Mornington Community Information and Support Centre manager Lisa Elliott said: “We have been incredibly hard hit and now have to look to our community to help fund these programs.” Westernport Community Support manager John Fraser – based at Hastings – said: “The reduction in emergency relief funding is extremely disappointing. “The information and support centres provide one of the few safety nets available to the marginalised, vulnerable and financially challenged members of the community.
“One of their main roles is to assist those who are most at risk and who are experiencing a short-term crisis.” For more information or to make a donation to the community support and information centres contact: Southern Peninsula Community Support and Information Centre, 878 Pt Nepean Rd, PO Box 91, Rosebud, 3939, call 5986 1285 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Westernport Community Support, 185 High St, PO Box 93, Hastings, 3915, call 5979 2762 or email: info@ wportcomsupport.org.au Mornington Community Information and Support Centre, 320 Main St, Mornington, 3931, call 5975 1644 or email: email@example.com
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Southern Peninsula News 28 July 2015