Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT)

ALS Media

ALS loses funding for frontline program despite Government assurances

16 Jun 2014

Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) has been advised by the Federal government that our Prisoner ThroughCare program, a frontline service assisting Aboriginal men, women and children leaving gaol integrate back into daily life, won’t be funded after 30 June 2014.

A recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and in its eighth year of operation, the Prisoner ThroughCare program employed one administration officer and five case workers who through a case management approach assisted pre and post release prisoners in NSW and ACT to get out of gaol, and stay out.

Phil Naden, CEO of  Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) says the new cuts have come as a shock.

“Six months ago the Australian government brutally stripped our budget by 4.5% over four years, and now we’re facing even more cuts, this time with a program that is solely, purely ‘frontline’,” said Mr Naden.

“We have heard so many public statements by government, in the lead up to and after the 2014 Budget, that no frontline services in Indigenous Affairs would be cut," he said.

"Our Prisoner ThroughCare field staff are engaged in vitally important work on the frontline to assist people leaving prison avoid further recidivism, and these public statements do not reflect what our Prisoner ThroughCare staff were accomplishing."

Mr Naden says he has contacted the funding body, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, to express his disappointment.

"Although only $500,000 per annum to run, we have little expectation the government will reverse their decision," he said.

"We are already preparing to absorb a big funding cut to our operations, announced in the Government's mid-year budget in December 2013."

"Cost-saving measures are one thing, but a direct hit to frontline services - losing the whole Prisoner ThroughCare unit – well that’s just disappointing."

"We carry great sadness for the departing staff of our Prisoner ThroughCare Unit.”

“And for the Aboriginal people who were benefiting from using this service, we’re truly sorry, and we can only hope the government will see the light once again, and fund this necessary service for our most vulnerable citizens."

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