The fight to keep emergency relief support in Gloucester continues with no word yet on how it will be delivered once the Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Group's funding runs out.
December 31 marks the end of government funding which supplies emergency food, petrol vouchers and assistance with prescription medicine for those in dire need directly in Gloucester.
The group that has been providing face-to-face service in the community for many years, was unsuccessful in the funding application which would have seen the service continue until the next funding round.
According to the Department of Social Services (DSS), which delivers the funding, f"ollowing an open and competitive process designed to maximise the quality of services available for vulnerable Australians", six organisations were selected to provide emergency relief in the Mid North Coast region until 2023.
When looking for where to get help on the DSS website for the Taree-Gloucester region, it appears that none of the funded providers have a presence in Gloucester.
The closest location is through Manning Valley Emergency Relief which offers service in Wingham (around 70 kilometres away) and Taree, with only two others, Mid Coast Communities and Samaritans, offering any type of service in Taree, mostly with very limited hours of operation.
The other providers are Anglicare North Coast and Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre Incorporated, which only have a presence in the Macleay Valley. Mid Coast Communities Incorporated has Gloucester listed as a search location but when you search for a location it returns 'nothing found', while The Salvation Army (New South Wales) Property Trust only offers aged care.
The DSS definition states that emergency relief services are "delivered by community organisations and help people address immediate basic needs in times of crisis".
Emergency relief can act as a safety net for people experiencing financial distress or hardship and who have limited means or resources to help them alleviate their financial crisis.
The question is, if BWNG losses it funding, who will provide the same level of face to face service the group has been consistently providing?
It's clear that Gloucester needs the service, but as the deadline looms, how the service is provided as of January 1, 2020 is still uncertain.
Federal member for Lyne, David Gillespie has been actively lobbying the Minister of Social Services to return the service to Gloucester. The appointed minister for the position changed in line with the Federal election in May, and Dr Gillespie met with the new appointee, Anne Ruston while he was in Canberra recently.
"I've been given a commitment of like-for-like services to be delivered in Gloucester," Dr Gillepsie said.
He explained that as BWNG currently delivers face to face service in Gloucester, the new providers should be offering at least that same level service.
Although who will be providing that service is still unclear.
"The government is committed to ensuring residents in Gloucester will continue to have access to emergency relief services," a DSS spokesperson said.
"The department is working with providers in the Mid North Coast region, including meetings with each provider this week (September 23-27), to ensure there is no gap in services for the Gloucester community."
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