ADJOURNMENT – SOUTH EAST VOLUNTEERS

Mr FREGON (Mount Waverley) (19:03): My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, and the action I seek is for the minister to update the house as to how the Andrews government is supporting the work of volunteer organisations in the Mount Waverley district. Earlier today I spoke about the South East Volunteers and the great work that CEO Ann Burgess and her whole team of staff and volunteers provide for often the most vulnerable and isolated in our community. Throughout the difficulties of last year their work was more important than ever. They found ways to maintain their commitment to supporting the community and worked closely with local councils and other levels of government to ensure social support continued to be provided to people who were housebound or isolated due to mobility difficulties, lack of confidence and illness. They delivered groceries, collected prescriptions and facilitated transportation so the members of the community could still attend necessary appointments and receive essential medical care. They help make sure vulnerable and isolated members of our community do not fall through the cracks and provide friendship, a sense of belonging and a caring connection.

Last week I received a phone call from Ann Burgess advising that on 30 June 2021, in four months time, the federal government will be cutting the South East Volunteers funding by a massive $50 000. To say I was perplexed and bewildered is an understatement. In a time when human connection and a sense of belonging have never been more important for people who live alone especially, the extended lack of contact has been particularly tough. As we have discovered, the fight against COVID-19 is filled with heroes. Some workers on the front line do not always get the credit they deserve. They go quietly about working to help and assist without ever asking for credit, and this is how many volunteer organisations operate. However, they can only do this work with our continued support, so today I will not let them go unnoticed. The removal of already-budgeted funding will hamper the good they can do. To the federal government I say: fix it; be realistic with time lines, please.

Thank you to all our volunteers. Thank you for banding together and thank you for taking care of our community. I will be writing to the federal Minister for Families and Social Services to raise my disappointment in her decision and ask her to continue this needed funding.