Bathurst Regional Council and 21 other councils across the country have launched a joint protest against Federal Government funding cuts of up to $120 million.
Bathurst Regional Council general manager, David Sherley, said funding cuts affect the way councils operate and prompt a review of priorities and delivery of services.
“Councils from across Australia stand to lose as much as $120 million in funding which will put more pressure on ratepayers and the services that are delivered,” Mr Sherley said.
“Council is a supporter of any initiative that would limit cuts to funding.”
Brimbank City Council (Victoria), City of Darebin (Victoria), City of Greater Dandenong (Victoria), City of Monash (Victoria), Hawkesbury City Council (NSW), City of Wagga Wagga (NSW) and City of Freemantle (WA) are among the 22 councils which are supporting a public campaign against the Federal Government cuts.
The councils are mainly protesting funding cuts to the Status Resolution Support Scheme (SRSS), which provides payments to asylum seekers living in the Australian community while the Federal Government decides their claim for protection.
The SRSS scheme provides a living allowance – usually 89 per cent of the Newstart allowance, or $247 per week per single adult - along with casework support and access to torture and trauma counselling.
Councils fear that funding cuts will add costs to local and state governments and the charity sector.
Councillor Roz Blades, who is chairing the Mayor Taskforce, said funding cuts to the SRSS are out of step with community expectations.
“Since World War II, Australia has welcomed more than 800,000 people who’ve fled war and persecution,” Cr Blades said.
“They have contributed immensely to our communities and our country on every level, from our culture to our sporting traditions, from medicine to the law, from science and research to our global reputation for excellence in the culinary arts.
“People who have fled persecution and war are our neighbours and friends, our lawyers and our doctors, our nurses and our baristas, our scientists and our surgeons, our lifesavers and our chefs. And often they are our family members.”