Dr WOODRUFF - I am really pleased to hear about that because it was difficult to tell from the budget exactly who had received what. Engender Equality is the statewide specialist with counselling and safety planning and support. You would be aware that in the October to December quarter last year they had a 36 per cent increase in new client referrals and a nearly 20 per cent increase in the new clients who accessed their service over that period of time. Their waiting list is six months, which is devastating because no-one can wait to have a conversation when they pick up the phone and they need support in that situation.
Can you confirm, you said a 37 per cent increase. What they asked for just to simply keep pace was an extra $400 000 a year for three full-time equivalent counsellors but in order to flourish and to grow with the frontline services commensurate with the need the needed an extra six full-time equivalent employees every year, which is $800 000. To my mind, that sounds like a very small amount of money given the quality of the service they provide.
Can you tell me whether that was covered?
Mrs PETRUSMA - Engender Equality will be getting $1.441 million as core funding so that is a substantial increase on what they previously received.
Dr WOODRUFF - So, this is over three years?
Mrs PETRUSMA - No, that's one year. Over the next five years they will be receiving $7.538 million.
Dr WOODRUFF - Over the next five years?
Mrs PETRUSMA - Yes.
Dr WOODRUFF - That is excellent.
Mrs PETRUSMA - That is a substantial increase.
Dr WOODRUFF - I am so pleased to hear that. Thank you very much.
Mrs PETRUSMA - We funded their full budget submission request so they have received the whole lot. So that's why -
Dr WOODRUFF - That's really excellent news because they had decades working without anything. Also, minister, can you confirm, I believe this is the case, that like other community services, organisations will be on a three-year funding arrangement, not on a year where they have to make applications every year.
Mrs PETRUSMA - These nine are on five year contracts, but this is a permanent increase to their core.
Because I have previously been minister for human services, to be quite honest I got really tired of one year, two year, three year, five year contracts. The department has been very gracious in helping me to push this one through, because as a victim-survivor myself, and going around talking to each of the services, what became very apparent is that the reason why we have these dips and rises - where we clear the wait list, then they increase - is because the funding was in small dribs and drabs and short amounts. As Ms Haddad would be aware with her background, if they do not have funding guaranteed from 1 July, they unfortunately had to start laying off staff by 31 March.
I said no way - we are stopping it now, so I managed talk to a few people and get agreement that the centrepiece of the next action plan will be five year contracts. It will be increased core funding to address the budget submissions that were made. Even those who did not make a budget priority statement will have increased funding too, recognising there is need in rural and regional communities, and everything else, to allow them to factor in the workforce like long service leave, for example, and annual leave. Also, this spare capacity allows them to have admin support, maintenance for buildings, everything else that they need to be a functioning service, because it is not just counselling. They need admin support to be able to take the work and the stress off the counsellors themselves. So, that has been factored in to transform these services.
This will be the centrepiece of our next action plan. It is a huge increase. Also, it was a PESRAC recommendation, which I didn't realise when I was fighting for this - so I got a tick for it being a PESRAC recommendation, but this is something I was determined to sort out.