Moira Shire councillors have reversed their decision to slash funding to MHA Care, voting unanimously at last Wednesday’s special meeting of council to adopt the 2017-18 budget, to keep the amount at its current level.
The Yarrawonga Chronicle reported in last week’s edition how Moira Shire had notified the health and community services provider via a phone call that funding would be slashed by $50,000, from $232,000 to $182,000, if the then-draft budget was approved.
And according to MHA Care board member Dale Brooks, from Brooks Hall Lawyers, this phone call set alarm bells ringing.
So much so, Mr Brooks and Manager Corporate Services Hayley McGregor spoke recently at a budget submissions hearing outlining their concerns the real and direct impact this proposed cut in funding would have on service delivery.
“The shire’s contribution when I joined the board of MHA Care several years ago was $500,000,” Mr Brooks told the Chronicle.
“We received significant funding cuts over the previous years – in 2011/12 funding was $301,200, in 2012/13 it dropped to $298,000, then in 2014/15 it dropped again to $232,000 – and the latest cut will largely affect the most vulnerable in the community.
“Already services have been slashed and the funding cut can only result in further reduction in the service delivery.
“The reduction in funding is likely to push MHA Care to a viability limit.”
Mr Brooks and Ms McGregor’s submission was successful with a report submitted to council at last Wednesday’s meeting to adopt the budget, and approved by CEO Mark Henderson, indicating that council would “maintain current funding of Moira Health Care to support the valuable home and community care and Foodshare services provided across the Moira Shire”.
Speaking for the adoption of the amended budget, Cr Peter Lawless praised the work of MHA Care saying it was “great to be able to continue to support MHA Care, who put in a terrific submission”.
Cr Peter Mansfield also spoke in favour of MHA Care, saying the major change from the draft budget to the now-approved budget was the funding amount for this organisation, a major factor of which was the downturn in the dairy industry and JBS Australia closing its doors in Cobram resulting in a dramatic increase in demand for Foodshare services, which MHA Care provides.
“Foodshare is a very important aspect for our shire,” he said.
Mr Brooks said after the special meeting if the funding amount had been maintained at $232,000 then MHA Care was very pleased by council’s decision.
“We are happy with this as part of our original proposal was Moira Shire could structure the payments to support Foodshare,” Mr Brooks said.
“I would like to extend our thanks for the opportunity to put our thoughts into a public submission and we are grateful to the councillors for taking our concerns on board.”
According to Mr Brooks the contribution Moira Shire Council makes to MHA Care was for the whole shire, not just one community.
“It supports a very diverse demographic which includes significant pockets of disadvantaged people including the elderly and the disabled,” he said.
“This funding strengthens the service delivery so those disadvantaged people are supported to the fullest extent.
“In addition this organisation employs approximately 80 people who are residents of the shire, so Moira’s funding supports the continuation of this employment also.
“MHA Care looks forward to keeping the council informed of our service delivery and will continually highlight the contribution of our volunteers who are the backbone of our organisation.”