Budget cuts the talk around the table

ABOUT 50 people put their minds to finding a way forward in the face of shrinking budgets during a community meeting on Thursday.

Shoalhaven Community College hosted the public meeting titled From Reflections to Actions.

Representatives from community, welfare and government organisations looked at what community organisations were available in the Shoalhaven and how budget changes could affect them.

Shoalhaven Community College community engagement manager Linda Marquis said the results of the federal budget cuts were likely to have serious implications for many aspects of life in the Shoalhaven.

“The impact will be felt by our youth, unemployed, homeless, indigenous and seniors which means there will be great pressure felt by our employment, education and health sectors,” she said.

“Consideration also needs to be given to the flow-on effect of these cuts to the retail and service sectors.

“The aim of the discussion was to have a conversation looking within our organisations and groups at ways we can help ourselves,” Ms Marquis said.

Illawarra Forum CEO Nicky Sloan attended the session.

She said the forum covered Wollongong, Kiama, Shellharbour and Shoalhaven and each area has different issues.

“Today is important because I get to hear the voice from the Shoalhaven,” she said.

“We are working with other organisations across the region to identify the issues and then send a united message to state and national leaders.

“We don’t want people to throw their hands in the air and say the budget is a done deal. There is still time to influence our leaders,” she said.

Work for the Dole concerns to go to minister

By JESSICA LONG

GILMORE MP Ann Sudmalis has undertaken to address concerns about unemployed people being forced to work alongside offenders fulfilling community service orders as part of the Work for the Dole program.

A spokeswoman for Assistant Employment Minister Luke Hartsuyker told Fairfax Media the government could not ensure people who work for the dole would not end up working alongside people completing community service.

However, when contacted on Thursday Mrs Sudmalis said she had not heard of the possibility of the unemployed working with offenders.

“Everything is being compiled at the moment and I will be sure to get all opinions about the proposal to the minister by August 26,” Mrs Sudmalis said.

She said she fully understood local concerns about the government’s proposal which will see dole applicants apply for 40 jobs a month.

“I’m pretty sure that’s one of  the issues I will be going straight to the minister about because it is extraordinarily difficult in our area for a young person,” she said.

“I understand it could be difficult to seek out 10 jobs a week.”

Shoalhaven Business Chamber president Warren Seccombe said businesses would be flooded with applications if the proposal went ahead.

“If you look at the Nowra-Bomaderry area with a population of about 35,000 and an unemployment rate of 11 per cent that makes 3850 unemployed people just in that area. Multiply that by 40 applications each month and that’s 154,000 applications that businesses would have to process,” he said.

“It’s important to encourage people to work but I’m not sure that this technique is going to work. I’m sceptical.”

Mrs Sudmalis said the Work for the Dole program was designed to make people more employable.

UNITED VOICE: Back from left, Shoalhaven Community College executive officer Helen Zwicker, community engagement manager Linda Marquis, (front) vice chairman of the Shoalhaven and Kiama Community Colleges Martin Millgate, Ellen Harwood from Shoalhaven City Council, Liz Henigan from TAFE and Illawarra Forum CEO Nicky Sloan take part in the roundtable discussion in Bomaderry on Thursday to explore how the budget will impact on local services.

UNITED VOICE: Back from left, Shoalhaven Community College executive officer Helen Zwicker, community engagement manager Linda Marquis, (front) vice chairman of the Shoalhaven and Kiama Community Colleges Martin Millgate, Ellen Harwood from Shoalhaven City Council, Liz Henigan from TAFE and Illawarra Forum CEO Nicky Sloan take part in the roundtable discussion in Bomaderry on Thursday to explore how the budget will impact on local services.

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