Meals on Wheels running on empty?
By ED SOUTHORN
UKI volunteer Edith Sisaric is pleased the NSW Government will give extra petrol money for Meals on Wheels and other volunteer ser- vices. But she also reckons the Federal Government should use GST revenue to subsidise fuel costs. Tweed State MP Neville Newell said high fuel costs had prompted $1.4 million in extra funding for dis- ability and ageing support groups to meet out-of-pocket volunteer ex- penses. The added monies will be made available under the joint NSW-Com- monwealth Home and Community Care (HACC) program. "Volunteers working for organis- ations such as Meals on Wheels, community transport and social sup- port services are feeling the pinch of rising fuel costs," Mr Newell said.
"Volunteers carry out vital work every day in supporting the most vulnerable in our community and the impact of rising costs on the work they do is cause for concern." Mr Newell said volunteers often used their own vehicles. Mrs Sisaric said the high cost of petrol was also forcing food prices up, due to increased delivery costs for food. She said she was "outraged" over petrol prices and suggested the Fed- eral Government reallocate GST in- come to subsidise fuel costs. "Everything is getting more expen- sive because of the extra transport
costs," Mrs Sisaric said. "Why not use the GST to help keep some of these prices down," she said. Mrs Sisaric agreed with Tweed Coast Meals on Wheels manager Sandra Coffin, who said last week high fuel costs could soon begin to impact on volunteer support and the number of meals able to be deliv- ered. Mrs Sisaric delivers meals twice a week every fortnight for Murwillum- bah Meals on Wheels, travelling 30km around Uki on each delivery run. She said Meals on Wheels petrol subsidy vouchers, currently $6 per volunteer, used to be donated by vol- unteers back to the Meals on Wheels organisation. But nowadays the volunteer driv- ers needed to keep the voucher mon- ey themselves because fuel costs were so high.