Govt grants to Indian sub-community mere lip service: ICSA

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Crisis and Support Agency writes to Baird Govt questioning process behind its “welfare” funding

On 19 March, the Indian (Sub-Cont) Crisis and Support Agency (ICSA) sent a formal request to Premier of NSW Hon Mike Baird to respond to questions around a one-off grant of $18,700 made to a particular Indian Community Association, two weeks before an election.

The response sought from Mr Baird is regarding the grant process, timing, location and the recipient organization’s support to the Liberal Party.

For 18 months ICSA, which has no political bias to any party or candidate, has been advocating to various ministers and departments that the specific needs of the Indian Sub-Continent community often fall out of grant criteria eliminating the real welfare needs of the Sub-Continent community, says the letter authorized by Kittu Randhawa, ICSA Project Lead.

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“Grants and funding for the Sub-Continent community largely sit around events, functions with as much Bollywood dancing as can you can put on a stage. The community needs more than this lip service; it needs dedicated welfare services, across the spread and distribution of the demographic,” reads the letter.

The ICSA letter goes on to talk about how it has been categorically stated by Government ministers that specific grants for welfare services cannot be made available, start-ups are not funded by Government and nothing can be done outside of a formal grant process. This grant demonstrates that this is clearly not true as there is no ostensible trace of a competitive process, demonstrated experience or even a plan, therefore the Government should explain, says the letter.

The grant is announced two weeks before an election, while the government is in care taker mode. Generally speaking that means the current Government is not really in Government so cannot approve any new projects. Again the Government should explain how this came about.

Setting aside process, this one-off grant appears to be an incentive to the Sub-Continent community of Prospect. The candidate Andrew Rohan who presented the cheque has lost marginal preferences through the boundary changes from Smithfield to Prospect and is now sitting at a 1.1% preference from 5.6% when it was Smithfield.

It also cannot be ignored that the committee and members of the recipient organization are seen to be proud supporters of the Liberal Party and therefore possibly donors too. The Premier has been asked to confirm what donations or any other support they have given to the Liberal Party in this election campaign. Community services all round are in serious jeopardy if political donations are required to secure grants, says the letter.

The point has been made, that the NSW Government is looking at a $1.8 billion two-way trade between India (alone) and the state of NSW (according to the India Strategy Document). In real terms a one-off grant of $18,700 is an absolute insult to the very real social and welfare needs of the local growing sub-continent community that makes up a part of that two way trade and is already a significant contributor to the local economy.

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