Con­cerns over cen­tre’s cost: MLA

Eastern Reporter - - Front Page - Lau­ren Pilat Bassendean MLA Dave Kelly out­side the soon to be opened dis­abil­ity jus­tice cen­tre. Bayswa­ter Ur­ban Tree Net­work spokesman and lo­cal res­i­dent Greg Smith.

THE dis­abil­ity jus­tice cen­tre be­ing built in Caver­sham on the Lock­ridge bor­der will cost about $2 mil­lion more than ini­tially ex­pected.

The Lord Street fa­cil­ity was es­ti­mated to cost $6.7mil­lion in 2015/14 with the 2015 State Gov­ern­ment Bud­get re­leased ear­lier this month re­veal­ing it would cost $8.47 mil­lion to build and $3.9 mil­lion to op­er­ate an­nu­ally.

The State Gov­ern­ment cen­tre was de­signed to house up to 10 peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tual or cog­ni­tive dis­abil­i­ties who are charged with crim­i­nal of­fences but un­fit to plead or stand trial.

Bassendean MLA Dave Kelly said the fund­ing for the cen­tre was in stark con­trast to fund­ing cuts im­posed on most schools in­clud­ing the two clos­est to the cen­tre, Kiara Col­lege and Lock­ridge Pri­mary School.

“To have it cost over $8 mil­lion to build with nearly $4 mil­lion each year to run is quite a shock to peo­ple, es­pe­cially when the cen­tre will have at most 10 in­mates,” he said.

“And all this is hap­pen­ing while the lo­cal schools have had to re­duce staff to cope with State Gov­ern­ment fund­ing cuts,

Pic­ture: Mar­cus Whisson

both Kiara Col­lege and Lock­ridge Pri­mary School have had sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing cuts since 2013.”

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Peter Col­lier said claims of fund­ing cuts for schools were wrong.

“In their fig­ures, 2013 data in­cludes what are now called tar­geted ini­tia­tives (for ex­am­ple Uni­ver­sal Ac­cess, Vo­ca­tional Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing), op­er­a­tional re­sponse al­lo­ca­tions and re­gional al­lo­ca­tions, while 2015 fig­ures don’t,” he said.

“In ad­di­tion, there are a range of other fac­tors, such as the al­lo­ca­tion of fur­ther dis­abil­ity al­lo­ca­tions through­out the course of 2015 that make this type of com­par­i­son in­cred­i­bly mis­lead­ing.

“Tak­ing th­ese points into ac­count equates to an ex­tra $748 per stu­dent in 2015.

“By the end of this year, 2015 per-stu­dent fund­ing is ex­pected to be $10,676; this is far more than the $9698 claimed.”

Dis­abil­ity Ser­vices Min­is­ter He­len Morton said a por­tion of the op­er­a­tion cost would go to­wards a pri­son in-reach ser­vice to help peo­ple with dis­abil­ity in pri­son to re-in­te­grate into the com­mu­nity.

“The cen­tre will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week – in con­trast to school hours – and has been de­signed to pro­vide a se­cure and ther­a­peu­tic en­vi­ron­ment which sup­ports in­di­vid­u­als’ needs and de­velop im­por­tant life skills,” she said.

The cen­tre is ex­pected to open in July.

Pic­ture: Mar­cus Whisson

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