Inner West grants go to LGBTIQ community instead of sick babies

Kathmandu (Pahichan) October 23 – A SYDNEY council is refusing grants to help sick babies, cancer victims, people with disabilities, church groups and street kids to instead spend the money on a queer formal, Mardi Gras floats, LGBTIQ self-defence classes and a lesbians picnic.

Inner West Council is expected to next week rubber-stamp a recommendation to deny a $14,000 funding request from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The funds would have paid for one specialist chair for breastfeeding mothers and four infant resuscitators.

Reema El Qassem with her 13-month-old daughter Fatima Sari, who suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome. The mother of three urges Inner West council to fund specialised neonatal equipment. Picture: Tim Hunter

Deputy mayor Julie Passas, one of only two Liberals, is threatening to report her own council to the state government if these recommendations are passed on Tuesday.

Ms Passas is concerned after Youth Off The Streets, St Brendan’s Church Annandale and the Cancer Patients Foundation missed out in favour of $6500 for the Lesbian Bisexual Queer Community Picnic, $2450 for LGBTIQ self-defence classes and $7500 on the state’s first Queer Formal.

“Why are we dividing the community just because of people’s sexual orientation,” Ms Passas said.

“We have got to look after the most vulnerable in our community, not just one section of the community. It should be on a needs basis.

“The gay community want their own formal; it is like Chinese people saying that they want an Asian-only formal.

“I don’t think $14,000 is too much money. Those chairs are very good in helping mothers have skin-on-skin contact.”

“The Office of Local Government needs to step in here.”

The council’s 2017/18 grants program, with a total of nearly $750,000 to distribute, also plans to give $35,000 to Marrickville Bowling and Recreation Club so it can replace ageing carpets.

Despite the club raising $250,700 last year from 22 poker machines and Keno facilities, ratepayers will foot most of the bill for the fitout.

Marrickville Bowling and Recreation Club director Terry Fox said: “The club does not have a great deal of money.”

“Wherever people go, they are going to play poker machines. We do not push to make money from them. It is an older place and we are overdue for a facelift.”

The council is also set to deny a $22,000 request from the Cancer Patients Foundation for a workshop to teach patients how to manage the appearance-related side effects caused by cancer treatment.

The Australian Foundation for Disability is also set to receive a fraction ($7830) of the $27,900 it has asked for to fund seating, gardening equipment, multicultural events and wellbeing activities.

Other disability and outreach organisations received far less than what they asked for.

Mother-of-three Reema El Qassem’s daughter Fatima, who suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome, last year spent weeks in RPA’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Ms El Qassem has called on the council to support the hospital.

“It is important to fund equipment at the hospital because it affects the babies as well as the parents,” she said.

“I don’t think $14,000 is too much money. Those chairs are very good in helping mothers have skin-on-skin contact.”

The AIDS Council Of NSW (ACON) is the organisation behind the LBQ Women’s Community Picnic.

CEO Nicolas (YES) Parkhill said: “The grant that ACON has been successful for will allow us to raise awareness with these women about the importance of breast cancer screening”.

“There is a significant population of LBQ women in the Inner West, making an event held in the area that much more relevant and important.”

An IWC spokeswoman she said there were many more applications received than were able to be funded.

“Recommendations are made by panels made up of expert community members and council staff with experience in grant assessment,” she said.

“All recommendations for funding are made according to the grant guidelines.

“Recommendations to partially-fund projects occurs in 54 per cent of all of applications.

“Please note that many groups apply for funding to more than one council grant.”

She said money for Marrickville Bowling Club is from the state government NSW Government Stronger Communities Grant — a payment made to councils as part of the recent amalgamations.

“These grants are determined by an external panel made up of State MPs, a representative from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, an independent probity adviser, local community members and a single representative from council,” she said.