Cutting state’s culture:

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Academic says lack of funding to Arabic group would have devastating impact

Hume Leader | By Kate Swan

5th July 2011

AN ACADEMIC has said funding cuts to the Victorian Arabic Social Services (VASS) are a major setback to a multicultural state.

The government has failed to renew $150,000 funding for VASS’ intake and referral service, which has 1020 clients.
Last week’s developments included tabling a 600-signature petition in Parliament and VASS manager Leila Alloush securing a meeting with Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge.

Deakin University Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation director Fethi Mansouri said VASS played a critical role and the impact of cutting services would be devastating.
“In the short term people will definitely feel the pinch and be alienated, especially newly arrived families who all of a sudden have no support from people they identify with,” he said. Prof Mansouri said the Government’s message it preferred to fund mainstream services over culturally specific ones was dangerous.

“The artificial distinction is very harmful and divides between communities,” he said. Ms Alloush was optimistic about the meeting with Ms Wooldridge, which will be held this Thursday.

The Leader has joined VASS in campaigning for ongoing funding. Broadmeadows MP Frank McGuire said he hoped it would not just be lip service. “We want this to be sit down and lock-in funding for the next four-year term,” he said.

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