The Australian Coalition government has backed away from distributing millions of dollars in grants promised to dozens of charities, community groups and local councils under Labor’s national crime prevention program.
In some cases, small charities say their existence is under threat because they have spent money based on draft funding agreements that will no longer be honoured by the new government.
The biggest loser is the Police Citizens Youth Club, which has been warned the $7 million it was promised is ”on hold and unlikely to be delivered”, according to an insider.
The money was earmarked to provide youth mentoring programs in disadvantaged areas, including the ”Making Men” and ”Girl’s Choice” projects to steer young people away from a life of crime.
The PCYC, which said it remained hopeful of receiving the 31 individual grants it secured in August, was warned its funding had been shelved pending a review of the Coalition government‘s spending priorities.
Father Chris Riley‘s Youth Off the Streets charity has received the first instalment of the $5 million it was promised because it expedited the signing of contracts before the change of government.
But Father Riley hit out at the Coalition’s decision, pointing out that national crime prevention grants were funded through the proceeds of crime rather than general revenue and were not election promises.
”I don’t understand this, the proceeds of crime is not taxpayer money,” Father Riley said.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan said: ”The government is currently working through the arrangements required to implement our election commitments.
”In the meantime, we are in the process of advising organisations who were promised funding under the national crime prevention fund not to make any financial commitments on the basis of commitments made by the former government.”
One group that was warned not to spend on the assumption that agreements were valid is the Women in Prison Advocacy Network, which was promised $297,000 to start a youth mentoring program in inner-city Sydney and the La Perouse and Maroubra areas.
Kat Armstrong, who runs the not-for-profit group, had expected a first instalment on September 30 but it did not materialise. The group has been advised that ”a majority” of grants will be delivered.
”Given that we submitted a 36-page tender application and we were notified by the then minister, Jason Clare, that we were successful, we expect the money,” Ms Armstrong said. ”What we’ve spent in two months to begin the program will make us very vulnerable to having to close down if we don’t get the money we had been promised.”
The National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy had secured a total of $600,000 for programs for indigenous youth in Sydney and Dubbo but was warned the money was under review.
Mr Clare said Prime Minister Tony Abbott must step in to guarantee the PCYC and other groups would get their money.
”This government’s priorities are all wrong. They are happy to spend taxpayers’ money on going to weddings but are cutting millions of dollars in the budget for PCYCs and others to fight crime,” he said.
Mission Australia, which had been promised nearly $500,000, said it ”remains optimistic”.Source: Sydney Morning Herald – Hit and run on crime prevention likely
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