Family Planning Queensland have lost their funding which allowed the organisation to provide training for youth workers on sexual health issues. YANQ's research last year identified a lack of engagement by youth workers around sexual health issues of young people.
The Young Workers Advisory Service has also been de-funded. This was the only service which provided free advice to young workers around employment and industrial issues.
Inside the Queensland Government, the Department of Communities is being restructured and the Office For Youth has been severely downsized and has lost its director.
These are all very concerning signs that marginalised people seem to be the group that are paying the heaviest price for Government's cost cutting measures. YANQ has been raising these concerns with other state peak bodies as well as the Futures Forum. We sought to form an alliance with other peaks and state-wide services to collectively lobby the Government and to demand an exemption of cost cutting for services to disadvantaged community members.
Unfortunately, community service leaders seem shell-shocked, are not prepared to publicly make any demands on the Government and have chosen to remain silent during these critical times. A number of peak bodies have gone one step further and have signed contracts with the Government that formally gag them; not allowing them to undertake any advocacy on behalf of their members, nor even have links with other organisations which might undertake advocacy.
With the State Government due to review its relationship with peak bodies in the next 8 months, it seems the NGO sector is voluntarily abdicating its critical role of advocacy. This could/should be seen as nothing short of treachery, selling out community values to big business and priming the sector for a take over by large business-like organisations.
YANQ continues to be a values driven organisation and is looking for other alliances where people and organisations are not prepared to compromise what is best for the community to save their own job. There comes a time when we have to be honest with ourselves about our motives for "sitting around the table" with Government and ask if this is truly for the sake of the sector or if the motivation is self/organisational survival.
The NGO sector has reached this critical point and we will soon be more clear about who is there to represent the sector's view to the Government and who is there to help Government impose its views on the sector. A brave new world is awaiting us.