Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — Members of the house may be aware of the charitable organisation Foodbank Victoria, which for the past two years has provided emergency relief resources for Victoria’s most vulnerable. The food bank aims to deliver nutritious, healthy food to individuals and families experiencing hardship through a network of community organisations such as welfare agencies, support groups, schools and local resource centres.
As reported in the Weekly Times last Wednesday, the Baillieu government has cut funding for this important service, with no explanation or warning and seemingly no compassion whatsoever. The Brumby government set up this program to support rural communities in tackling poverty with $425 000 a year worth of funding, yet the new government cannot even fork out a quarter of that, offering a measly $75 000 per year for one worker across the entire state.
This issue has been raised with much concern amongst relief agencies such as the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul, which have called on the government to reinstate Foodbank Victoria’s rural support workers.
I have no doubt that Mr Damian Drum, a man who chaired the Rural and Regional Committee’s inquiry into rural disadvantage last year, is utterly embarrassed by the government’s latest ad hoc funding slash. Our report clearly stated that such health and welfare programs are essential to the wellbeing of rural and regional Victoria. Along with every single member of the government who claims to have a shred of compassion for vulnerable Victorians, Mr Drum ought to be embarrassed. I urge all members of this place and members of the community to look at the Weekly Times online comments from the many varied rural and regional Victorians — —
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Finn) — Order! The member’s time has expired.