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Community Services and Development – Food Relief

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Tags: Food Security, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, I know some people have criticised you for your comments at the TasCOSS briefing -

Mr STREET - I think you were one of them, weren't you, Dr Woodruff?


Mr STREET - You weren't?

Dr WOODRUFF - No, I wasn't.

Mr STREET - I thought you said in the media that I was right to apologise.

Dr WOODRUFF - Some people have criticised you for doing that and I don't have that view.

Mr STREET - Okay.

Dr WOODRUFF - I don't think we should discourage MPs from being honest and candid. I know some people have that view but I don't. Nonetheless, you are a minister in a government that has enacted, to many people in the sector, some very cruel cuts to services, with $300 million cuts across a range of public sector services flowing into the NGO sector. We can debate that issue but I really want to talk about food and food security on a day-to-day basis, not the future.

The money that was put into the Budget for future food security and food relief is welcome and there was money put into day-to-day things like the School Lunch program and vans doing outreach, but I visit neighbourhood centres regularly in my electorate of Franklin and I know that people are struggling to provide basic food from Loaves and Fishes and Foodbank to people in the community and the need is going up every day. Was there any money in the Budget towards emergency food relief to support the costs they're having?

Mr STREET - The money that we've put into food relief and food resilience was announced earlier. Prior to the Budget there was $2 million committed towards the Food Relief to Food Resilience Action Plan.

Dr WOODRUFF - Wasn't that in August last year?

Mr STREET - No. In August last year there was a cost-of-living package worth $5 million, so that was $50 000 to every Neighbourhood House and then there was a range of funding to organisations that flowed from that as well. This was a separate pool of money, the $2 million that was announced in March to back the action plan. As part of the action plan there is $800 000 for three place based pilot programs to deliver community led solutions to move from food relief to food resilience. That's working with the Food Coalition, which is a number of peak bodies in the sector that are going to develop three specific plans in the north, north-west and south. They're going to be working on programs they think can be tested and then delivered long term. There is $300 000 over the next two years for community food relief grants. They're grants that are available to any organisation that's currently providing food relief.

Dr WOODRUFF - Over three years?

Mr STREET - Over two years, $300 000 over the next two years. There's $100 000 for the development of a nutritional program by Eat Well Tasmania for delivery in Neighbourhood Houses which is part of the move from food relief to food resilience as well. We want to be educating people. People at this table and some members of the community probably take for granted the basic nutritional knowledge they have that others might not, so it's important that we educate people who are coming to Neighbourhood Houses about what constitutes a good meal. Pleasingly, every organisation I have visited that is providing food relief now in terms of prepared meals and what have you has been concentrating on the nutritional value of the meals but they're also concentrating on educating people about what is in those meals and where it's coming from.

We've provided $100 000 to Foodbank and $200 000 to Loaves and Fishes out of the $2 million in March; and $400 000 additional to the School Lunch Pilot Program which you mentioned as well, which is a great program but the funding for that was going to cease at the end of the calendar year, so at the end of this school year. What we have been able to do is extend that funding out to the end of next financial year. I don't have kids but I think that gets us to the end of term 2 of the 2024 school year and allows us to consider the School Lunch Program, the continuation of that pilot program long term as part of next year's budget. Julie Dunbabin from School Food Matters made the point that if the funding runs out at the end of this year they're going to have two terms next year before the next budget comes into place where they'd have no funding.

Dr WOODRUFF - So that will carry across?

Mr STREET - It will carry on and will allow us to go through the budget process at the end of this calendar year in preparation for next year's budget knowing that the program's funded until the end of the calendar year. There is also $100 000 to evaluate the action plan. That $100 000 is going to be looking at the three place based programs and evaluating whether they've worked or not and whether they're suitable for continuation going forward.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, minister. As I understand it, that is $50 000 a year extra to Foodbank and $100 000 a year over the next two years.

Mr STREET - No, the $100 000 to Foodbank and the $200 000 to Loaves and Fishes is just for this year. I don't know whether it will be paid in a lump sum but it will be paid over the course of the next financial year in a lump sum, but the $300 000 for the Food Relief Grants Program is over the next two years.

Dr WOODRUFF - Okay, so the money to Loaves and Fishes and Foodbank was given in March, was it? You said this $2.1 million was announced in March, but it is for this year's Budget.

Mr STREET - No, no.

Ms HURWORTH - We have executed a deed. They're lump sum payments to those organisations.

Dr WOODRUFF - Okay, thanks. It's helpful to know that.