Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Letter I wrote today ... maybe you want to send one, too?

Maxine Morand
Minister for Child and Early Childhood Development
Minister for Women’s Affairs

Dear Minister,

I am writing to you regarding the current state of funding from your department to the Victorian Branch of the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

I am most concerned that ongoing funding has not yet been allocated, leaving vital services unsupported.

Since joining this Association in 1984 I have seen the awareness grow in our community about the importance of breastfeeding for mothers and babies. I am proud to have contributed to our society through my work as a volunteer breastfeeding counsellor since 1992, however it is frustrating to see barriers to successful breastfeeding increasing alongside understanding of the risks associated with premature weaning.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association is a not-for-profit support network which began in Melbourne more than 44 years ago and has grown Australia-wide become a world renowned example of peer support and community awareness practices. In other States across Australia, and at a Federal level, our Governments recognise the value of the Association’s work, with funding of infrastructure, education and resources.

It shames me that Victoria lags embarrassingly behind in this area. Working within ABA at a national level, I find myself constantly explaining our lack of financial assets to seed projects in this State that other States receive abundant funding to establish.

We received our first funding from your Department for the calendar year of 2007. As that year came to an end, we were offered a lifeline of an additional six-months funding, to allow services to the community to remain uninterrupted while our new submission was considered. We were assured at that time that this interim funding, to cover costs until June 30th, was in recognition of the need to maintain our office services to both our volunteer workforce of more than 400 women and to the families across Victoria during a time of rapid population growth.

It is now a new financial year and we find ourselves in limbo. It is disappointing that your department has valued our work so poorly as to allow a full six months to pass by without addressing the situation. This leaves me with a poor opinion of our government and makes me consider future voting decisions: circumstances I will discuss with my partner, three adult children, family, friends and the wider community.

I urge your department to give this matter the most urgent of attention. If this government stands behind its recognition of the importance of breastfeeding to our community, then it needs to prioritise funding the organisation that has been working to this end since 1964.

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