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SAVE OUR SERVICES

WHITSUNDAY workers from the Social and Community Services Sector (SACS) will be hitting the streets on Saturday morning to alert the community to the impacts of State Government funding cuts.

A community awareness event titled 'Save our SACS' has been planned for this Saturday at the Airlie Beach foreshore from 10.30am.

Service organisations represented at Saturday's event will include the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre, Whitsunday Crisis and Counselling Service, Tenancy and Housing Information Service (TAAS), Whitsunday Housing Company, Ideal Placements, Proserpine Youth Space and the Whitsunday PCYC.

Assistant secretary of the Services Union Jennifer Thomas said the State Government had already axed about $600,000 in funding from not-for-profit organisations in the Whitsunday region alone, causing jobs to be lost and doors to close.

She said SACS professionals were fearful that this was "just the beginning".

"Ripping over half a million to essential community services in the Whitsundays hurts the economy, it hurts local jobs and it hurts the most vulnerable members of the region, who rely on these services," she said.

Ms Thomas said Saturday was about Whitsunday service organisations sharing their stories with the community and sending a clear message to Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan.

"He needs to advocate when he's standing there in parliament, for these services to continue," she said.

Mr Costigan said he had only become aware of the 'day of action' on Tuesday afternoon.

"I think it would be much more constructive for these people to sit down with me privately and talk over these matters in a decent, cordial manner rather than conduct some flag waving exercise," he said.

Mr Costigan re-iterated that money was "tight" .

"We've come in at a very difficult time and no-one ever thought about where the money was coming from until we got into office and found we had more holes than a tea strainer in the bank accounts of Queensland," he said.

However, Ms Thomas said cutting back on community services was not going to bring Queensland's Triple A credit rating back.

She was joined in this line of reasoning by Whitsunday resident and former housing worker Barb Adamson who said people in need were not impressed "by whether there's a surplus or not".

"They would rather live I think," Ms Adamson said.

Whitsunday Crisis and Counselling chief executive officer Carmen Bekker said it was important for the community to know what was available and what was at risk.

"At some stage in most people's lives they will need a service - if not for them, for their children, or a parent, or a friend," she said.

Ms Bekker said she hoped there would be enough outcry from the region to make the politicians think about how they introduced efficiency cutbacks and service reductions across the state.

Mr Costigan said if people genuinely believed an organisation was in need of support, they should contact him.

"Write to me. Tell me your story and then there's an opportunity for me to make representations to the minister," he said.

"I conduct constituent interviews in 14 different locations across my electorate every couple of months. There is ample opportunity for people to see me personally or write to me."


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