Victorian Arabic Social Services: funding

 I rise to join my colleagues from Thomastown and Broadmeadows in expressing my deep concern about the failure of the Baillieu government and its Minister for Community Services to renew $150 000 in funding for the Victorian Arabic Social Services intake and referral service. VASS is a very important service provider with specialist expertise and knowledge in working with Arabic-speaking-background communities and advocating on their behalf. Accordingly, VASS plays a key role for the people of my electorate, given the large Arabic-speaking communities that live in Brunswick. This service has been very important in my area in particular.

VASS has been seeking a meeting with the state government about this issue, in particular with the Minister for Community Services. We heard that VASS was in the building last night and the minister failed to attend the meeting.

Despite repeated attempts at meetings, the letters of support from myself and my MP colleagues, and the outstanding record of this organisation, and this service in particular, the funding has not been renewed. At its heart funding for a service like this is about not letting anyone fall through the cracks. As was reported in last week’s Hume Leader, a great example of the work of this particular referral service is that VASS is able to assist parents with newborn babies connect with the relevant support networks and systems, benefits and services to ensure that they have all the help they need. I call on the government to reconsider its decision to abandon funding for this intake and referral service, and I congratulate the manager and board of VASS on their extraordinary work and energy.

Hansard, 2011