Forrest Electorate: Community Services

In the Prime Minister’s election night speech, he spoke about how the government looking out for all Australians and would ensure that no-one is left behind because ‘we would always look after the disadvantaged and vulnerable’—those are the Prime Minister’s words. How about looking after the disadvantaged and vulnerable in my electorate? In the 2024-25 grant funding round under the Information Linkages and Capacity Building program for Individual Capacity Building was quietly announced recently, but missing from this was funding for disability peer support organisations in the south-west of my electorate. The South West Autism Network, Down Syndrome WA and Developmental Disability WA were notified that they would not be receiving funding or that their funding would not be continuing. They cannot continue to provide their services to people and families in the south-west.

These organisations share a long history of providing for our community, with over 80 years of combined service between them. We cannot underestimate how invaluable their support is, not only for the most vulnerable in our communities and their families but their loved ones, carers and support networks as well. They were given just five weeks notice that their funding wouldn’t be continued beyond 30 June. They provide compassionate and caring support, direction and advocacy to hundreds of people in need each week. Without these, service times and wait times will blow out and/or regional people will have to go to the city for support. Advocacy WA, the only organisation with ongoing funding, currently has waiting times of over six weeks. Without local providers, these times will compound and many will suffer. It’s appalling that regional Australians continue to bear the consequences of the government’s city based priorities, especially in the health space.

Under this government, the south-west is seeing changes to the priority allocation of GPs, making it harder and more expensive to see doctors and allied health professionals There is a loss of birthing services throughout the south-west at St John of God and at the Margaret River hospital, Centrelink processing times continue to soar and there are record housing shortages and ongoing labour shortages in our region. So, Prime Minister, if you genuinely care about those most vulnerable and want to ensure that no-one will be left behind, the South West Autism Network’s ethos is to fill the support gaps in our community. Can you please let them do it? It has done an incredible job with only $460,000 a year in funding. They need to be able to continue this work. I plead with the government and the minister to keep funding these invaluable services. Our most vulnerable need them.