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Funding cuts push service into dire straits

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A funding cut has left the Newcastle and Hunter Region Vietnam Veterans struggling to deliver help to its veterans.

In previous years, the ex-service organisation has been awarded close to $20,000 from the Federal Government’s Building Excellence in Support and Training grants.

However, the service received a mere $6,000 this time around.

Newcastle and Hunter Region Vietnam Veterans President, Geoff Linwood, said the group would be in “dire straits” if it could not make up the missing amount.

He added the grant would typically cover a lot of their expenses.

“It helps us to function, to do all the work we are required to do,” he said.

“[This cut means] the whole office operation is going to have to be looked at.

“We can’t stop doing welfare and compensation claims, but the other stuff is going to have to be looked at very seriously.

“We might not be able to update computers or buy printer cartridges and all that sort of stuff.

“The main area of our core business is being affected.”

Vice President Neil Colquhoun said the cut had come at an already challenging time, with COVID-19 putting a stop to their fundraising.

“[City of Newcastle] allows us to run some markets at Wickham Park on the last Sunday of every month,” he said.

“We roughly make about $2,500 a month out of those stalls but, as it is now, we just don’t make anything.

“The amount of work we do is a big thing, but we have to get the money to be able to do it.”

Mr Linwood added the markets’ temporary cancellation had been a big loss.

“[Without] the markets to back us up, it is about $40,000 a year gone and we just lost $11,000 on the grant, so there is $50,000 out the back door before we even start the year,” he said.

The volunteer-run organisation recently expanded to support more veterans, but Mr Colquhoun said it had led to them taking on more work with less funds.

“Hopefully, we get through it, but it is pretty hard,” he said.

“We try to do as much as we can with the little that we’ve got to help people along but [without more funding] there is a possibility of us going: ‘We have to close our doors’.”

He added that the service is always open to donations to help continue their vital work.

Call 4951 2666 for more information or if you’d like to donate.

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