Bendigo Community Health Services has joined the social services sector in calling on the Victorian Government to urgently review current funding to ensure the future of community care.

The Victorian Council of Social Service has launched a Thanks Isn't Enough campaign to highlight present funding does not cover the cost of service delivery putting organisations and jobs at risk.

VCOSS said State Government funding for social service agencies was indexed, meaning it’s supposed to go up each year in line with the cost of delivering services. Costs are going up more than four per cent this year but State Government funding for 2021/22 is only increasing two per cent.

"In real terms, that’s a (funding) cut. This is an absolute body blow to those organisations which supported Victorians through the worst of COVID," VCOSS CEO Emma King said.

Ms King said costs had increased dramatically over the past year because of factors outside the control of service organisations such as a recent increase to the minimum wage (up 2.5%), new superannuation contribution requirements (increasing charities’ wages bills by 0.5%) and new Portable Long Service Leave obligations.

“Funding needs to increase by at least four per cent just to cover the rising costs of delivering services,” Ms King said.

Bendigo Community Health Services CEO Gerard José said government funding must allow organisations to continue delivering quality care to the community.

"The pressures on not-for-profit organisations like BCHS are enormous at the moment," Mr José said.

"We cannot accept any funding system that puts services and jobs in danger when it comes to health care and ensuring the health and wellbeing of our community.

"Our staff have already gone above and beyond through this pandemic. Their resilience and determination to keep the community healthy and safe has been truly amazing and this type of dedication should be supported not put in danger by essentially a funding cut that means 'sorry, you now have to do more with less'. How fair is that?

"We have just completed our budget process for the next financial year. The pressure we have put on managers and teams to streamline spending and services just to maintain a financial position that gets us by is unfair and unjust. We cannot continue to put that type of pressure on our teams without at some point running the risk of damaging the standard of care the community expects and deserves.

"BCHS has spent 47 years caring for the community. We make a real difference around health and wellbeing which we know then has a positive financial impact in that the burden on the hospital system is reduced.

"All we ask is that Government acknowledge this by funding the social services sector fairly so we can all get on with helping people to live the best lives possible in the communities we serve. How can anyone argue that isn't a good investment?"

Ms King and Mr José commended the government on establishing a new Working Group to review the funding indexation process but warned this would not help the funding crisis faced by social service organisations this year.


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Last updated: July 2, 2021