Bass Coast continues advocacy on behalf of the community
Consistent with its commitment to advocacy, Bass Coast Shire Council resolved to represent the community with increased funding requests to the Federal and State Governments on the topics of Financial Assistance Grants and Homelessness support.
Victorian Grants Commission submission
Following the December Ordinary Meeting in Cowes, Council will write a submission to the Victorian Grants Commission seeking a change to the major cost drivers used to calculate the amount of funding Council receives through the Commonwealth Government’s Financial Assistance Grants.
The submission asks that the Victorian Grants Commission alter two major cost drivers used to determine grants in the areas of Recreation and Culture and Traffic and Street Management. Commonwealth Grants are one of Council’s major revenue sources outside of rates.
Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Pamela Rothfield, explained that if the requested changes outlined in the submission are accepted, it may result in an increased allocation to Bass Coast in the future.
“Rural councils with high portions of non-resident ratepayers, such as Bass Coast, are disadvantaged by some components of the formula used to calculate grant allocations, due to permanent population being used as the cost driver,” Cr Rothfield said.
“In our submission we are asking the Commission to reassess the cost drivers used, and in some cases change the driver from permanent residency to include non-permanent residents. This better reflects our seasonal population service requirements and the impact it has on our community’s infrastructure.”
Although it is not yet known what the increase in funding could be, if accepted, the changes would ensure a more equitable distribution of the Commonwealth Government’s Financial Assistance Grants to Councils with high levels of non-resident rate payers.
Also at the December Meeting, Council agreed to support the Frankston City Council request to write to the Australian Government requesting increased funding in the 2018-2019 Federal Budget for essential services and shelter for people experiencing homelessness. This aims to address concerns of the increased incidence of homelessness in our communities.
Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Pamela Rothfield, says that homelessness is not just an issue for metropolitan or large regional communities; it is also an issue that affects people in rural communities and for a variety of reasons.
“People in our communities may experience homelessness due many factors, some of which include exposure to domestic and family violence, financial difficulties and health issues,” Cr Rothfield said.
“It is not just about associating it with sleeping on the street either, as there are many examples of people who are ‘couch surfing’ to stay off the street.”
“Traditionally, the role of the Commonwealth Government around homelessness has been the provision of capital funding, while the State Government’s role has been to plan and manage service provision and housing. We believe that local government can play a role in advocating for the needs of our local community and we intend to do that.”
Councils efforts to raise awareness of the issue and seek support in advocating to government for improved support and services has been supported at a local level by members of the community including health professionals who are confronted with the devastation caused by homelessness on a daily basis.
The submission and letter of support are further examples of Council’s focus on advocacy, one of the key themes in the 2017-2021 Council Plan. Both Financial Assistance Grants and Homelessness support will be opportunities Council will consider as part of its Advocacy Strategy which is currently under development.