11 December 2013



SUBJECT/S: Coalition freezing of Building Multicultural Communities Program

MICHELLE ROWLAND: Thanks everyone for coming along. We’re joined today by Matt Noffs, the acting CEO of the Ted Noffs foundation, and many of the supporters and followers of the Ted Noffs Foundation. Also Tanya Plibersek, the acting Leader of the Opposition, and Matt Thistlethwaite, the Member for Kingsford Smith. The reason why this has been initiated by Matt Noffs, as he’ll tell you in a moment, is because the Ted Noffs foundation is one of the approved recipients of a funding grant; the Building Multicultural Communities Program, in which over $14 million was allocated over the last federal Budget to assist in diversity and bringing communities together and we all know the fantastic work the Ted Noffs foundation does including drug and alcohol counselling, and also some really innovative programs around Western Sydney and other disadvantaged parts of Australia. As I said, this has been initiated by Matt and we’re very happy to support him. In the spirit of bipartisanship I don’t think anyone could dispute how important the Ted Noffs foundation is. And like many other groups their funding has unfortunately been frozen by this government for these approved grants and I stress, budgeted grants, that were actually in the Budget. So today, we call on in the spirit of bipartisanship the Government to release funding for these grants so that people like Matt Noffs and his organisation can continue to do the great work they do. Thanks Matt.

MATT NOFFS: Thanks Michelle. As Michelle said, not only the Ted Noffs Foundation but a range of other organisations received letters saying they were successful in a range of submissions that we applied for. For us, it was for a grant of $85,000. For some people that’s small bickies but for an organisation like ours it’s a lot. We rely on government funding and community support but we’re seeing government retreat, and retreat, and retreat from organisations like ours and if the Prime Minister believes that business interests are in the marrow of the Governments bones, well then I would say in the heart of Australia that the community is really the thing that runs through and causes through the veins of the country. It is the community interest that should be at the heart of everything we do. If we do cut away a community organisation like Noffs, what will happen is the economy will suffer. It’s simple. The reason why we’re ahead in the world right now is because we have things like Medicare, because we have lower crime, lower rates of drug abuse like other countries around the world. Let’s keep it that way. And let’s make sure that this government can keep that legacy of having low crime and low drug use.

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Thanks very much. The Ted Noffs foundation for decades has been doing great work in our community, benefiting tens of thousands of people over the years, including the young people that are here today. It’s absolutely inexplicable that money that has been set aside to fund this organisation and others like it, has been cut; and cut before Christmas when need in our communities is greatest.

MATT THISTLETHWAITE: The Ted Noffs foundation is a wonderful asset for our community. The work that they do in supporting children and families afflicted by drugs and alcohol is simply priceless. The Ted Noffs Foundation do not deserve the uncertainty. They do not deserve to be treated like this by the Abbott Government. They applied for, in good faith, funding under the Building Multicultural Communities Program. They were awarded that funding. They deserve that funding to be delivered by the Abbott Government, as do other recipients of that wonderful program. I’ve seen firsthand in my community the wonderful work that Matt Noffs, his volunteers and staff do in rebuilding the lives of people afflicted by drugs and alcohol. This money is going to supporting kids and ensuring that their education continues whilst they’re undertaking some of the Noffs Foundation’s important programs. They don’t deserve to be treated like this by the Abbott Government and we call on Tony Abbott and the Minister Kevin Andrews to release the funding for these important programs.