A few years ago, Councillors received a request from charity group GV Community Care for staff funding. Despite numerous reasons why this investment was good bang for buck, the majority of Councillors refused to offer $30K per annum. After the meeting, I made some calls and it finally looked like Councillors had a majority consensus to support the group. However, when the budget was released, extra funding was not included.
I prepared a motion to argue for inclusion of extra funds for GV Community Care, but by that time some Councillors had a change of heart, so rather than risking GV Community Care feeling undervalued, I did not move the motion, but sure wish I had!
These same Councillors didn’t bat an eye lid when the Australian Botanic Gardens doubled their annual funding from $50K, to $100K per annum and are quite happy to generously donate to a more high profile group – The Community Fund. It’s not my intention to denigrate botanic garden volunteers, nor the great work of The Community Fund, who are invaluable for our region and should be applauded for their efforts. However, there is no disputing Community Care is in need of better resourcing; whether this be by improved skills, better networks, or funding.
What’s more important… a pretty garden that can’t be seen from the main road, or feeding the needy? In my opinion, Council should jump at a chance to assist grass-roots organisations attempting to bridge the divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.
PREPARED DEBATE TO SUPPORT GV COMMUNITY CARE:
Councillors recently received a request for additional funding from GV Community Care leading up to the expiration of their existing MOU. It’s my hope that we will respond positively to this request.
The value for money this service provides is significant. For whatever reason, approximately 124 people per week access this service for assistance and food. This service is unique to our community in being the largest direct conduit between Food Share and the needy.
GV Community Care package food into meals and engage schools, teaching young people healthy eating habits and an understanding of social disadvantage. They helped facilitate Shepparton High VCAL students send out 3000 meals last year.
Now GV Community Care are asking for administration funding, which cannot be provided by other charitable organisations, only Council. In order to move forward with a sense of security and stability, they do need this money. This is not a service Council can duplicate and it’s generally our position to support the people who support our community.
There is a line between volunteer and employee. Volunteers often burn out, leading to destabilisation and a loss of historical knowledge for the organisation. GV Community Care are asking for a fair sum to lock in a ‘volunteer’ as a committed and accountable administrator. If we agree, it offers them more weight around obtaining grants from other bodies for non-operational activities. They have flagged cooking classes for elderly single men as the next step forward.
My fear is GV Community Care may be overlooked if we increase funding for other, more well resourced charities, who do not work on the coal face of our community. GV Community Care didn’t come to us with glossy pamphlets, they came with a simple PowerPoint demonstration and genuine intent. To me, they are most in need.
It’s a sad state of affairs when we require so many emergency relief services, but that’s the reality – the numbers speak for themselves. I’m quietly confident that this will not set a precedent, as GV Community Care is unique in may ways. To use precedence as an excuse results in a blanket ‘no’ for everything. I believe each request should be taken on merit and that this organisation ticks enough boxes.
I’m not asking Councillors to make a decision now. This motion won’t lock anything in, but merely flags this funding request as a matter for due consideration. All I’m asking is that we consider their request in the 2016/17 budget because (in my opinion) we should be hanging our hats on the opportunity to help them