Mar 3, 2016

Cranbourne Information & Support Service Speech – 3 March 2016

In the outer suburbs of Melbourne in my electorate of Holt and in many other electorates, it is vital that we support and invest in community organisations. The Cranbourne Information and Support Service, run by the Leanne Petrides, is not being supported and is actually facing budget cuts under the Turnbull coalition government. On 30 October 2015, services funded under the Financial Wellbeing and Capability Activity were notified that from 1 December 2015 the Translating and Interpreting Service, or TIS, would no longer be directly funded by the Department of Social Services.

Agencies like CISS have now been directed to set up fee-paying accounts with TIS National to be billed directly for interpreting services. Agencies like the Cranbourne Information and Support Service provide a vital service to the community. They have uncertainty over their budget, and it is causing great distress to the many people who work to provide that service to the people of Cranbourne.

The Cranbourne Information and Support Service provides services including information, referral, negotiation, financial counselling, personal counselling and a no-interest loans scheme. The most requested service, however, is that of material aid which they provide in the form of food parcels, food vouchers, chemist vouchers, petrol vouchers, public transport, toiletries and baby goods, including formula and nappies. It obviously goes without saying that it is absolutely crucial for their clients and the organisation to be able to communicate effectively with each other in order for the services to be delivered appropriately. Imagine receiving legal documents or complicated bills and not being able to understand what is being demanded of you.

It is deeply concerning to me, and should be concerning to people in this place, that the most basic right to speak to another human being and be understood when you are in need is now being taken away from clients, many of whom are extremely vulnerable and marginalised. I would hope that funding to the TIS interpreting service will be restored by the Turnbull government so that the Cranbourne Information and Support Service can get back to running their vital services as usual.

In the outer suburbs there has been an ongoing growth in the number of people of non-English-speaking backgrounds, people with refugee backgrounds who have come to this country for different reasons. These people who come to the Cranbourne Information and Support Service and need help are amongst the most vulnerable in our community. The fact that this information and support service, in providing support to these people most in need, have to be billed to provide this service so they can understand the people they are seeking to help is a disgrace. The Prime Minister likes to portray himself as someone that is a great friend of the community. This is a disgrace. It needs to be fixed up. If he is serious about being seen as a man of the people he will fix up this disgrace.


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