Those who rely on Foodbank Australia in hard times can breathe a sigh of relief this week, after the Morrison Government bowed to pressure to restore the organisation’s core funding.
“Dumbfounded and extremely disappointed” – that’s how Foodbank Australia responded to the shock announcement that its Federal Government funding had been almost halved to $430,000 per annum.
The funding cut was announced by Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher, as part of a realignment which saw the food relief funding pool spread across more organisations at the expense of Foodbank’s funding.
We’re dumbfounded & extremely disappointed by this pre-Christmas cut that will affect our programs feeding more than 4mill hungry Aussie. We urge you to reverse this decision @PaulFletcherMP. @ScottMorrisonMP this is your opportunity to make a difference https://t.co/K2NjHIBWzq
— Foodbank Australia (@FoodbankAus) November 11, 2018
Foodbank is Australia’s largest food relief organisation, providing relief to over 4 million Australians via 2,600 local charities such as St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army.
Foodbank is also by far the largest food relief provider in regional Australia, with 40% of its services being directed outside the major cities. This focus has been increased in response to the current drought in Eastern Australia.
The recent Foodbank Hunger Report found that people living in regional and remote areas were 33% more likely to have faced food insecurity in the past 12 months.
For that reason, the National Farmers’ Federation chose to voice its concerns about the funding cut, issuing the tweet below and working behind the scenes to seek a resolution.
We’re baffled and disappointed by this mid-drought, pre-Christmas cut to @FoodbankAus. Farmers are important contributors to Foodbank, and 40% of people assisted are in the bush. Please rethink this @PaulFletcherMP, @ScottMorrisonMP. #auspol https://t.co/YIqIeh5dm5
— National Farmers Fed (@NationalFarmers) November 11, 2018
This was coupled with an outpouring of community support through social media over the course of Monday.
The AustralianFarmers community also stood behind the cause, sending more than 200 letters of support to Prime Minister Scott Morrison via this website.
By Tuesday morning, the Prime Minster Scott Morrison took the decisive step to intervene quickly and restore Foodbank’s full funding allocation, by increasing the overall food relief budget.
[3/3] Important that food relief in drought areas is delivered in a way that does not undercut local businesses. Minister will work with providers to get the right plan in place.
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) November 12, 2018
In a victory for the community and common sense, the decision came just 24 hours after Foodbank first voiced its concerns publicly about the funding cut.
Thank you Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP for restoring our essential funding and for providing vulnerable Australians with certainty. We are proud of the work we do to support people in crisis and welcome this decision.
— Foodbank Australia (@FoodbankAus) November 12, 2018