Funding struggle for justice centre
A new centre bringing community justice organisations together under one roof in Karratha is struggling to attract funding.
The Pilbara Community Legal Service is about to begin building a regional Community Justice Centre at the old Avis site on Balmoral Road in the CBD.
The centre, designed to house at least 14 local social service organisations, is believed to be the first of its kind in WA.
But PCLS chief executive Nanette Williams said the four grants the service had applied for to fund construction so far had either been knocked back or were awaiting approval months on, despite the project receiving 28 letters of support in its initial stages.
She said the centre was a dream she was determined to make happen because PCLS staff had grown too big for its Welcome Lotteries House offices, but a lack of funds could stall the process.
“At the moment we’ve got stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3 (in the building plans),” she said.
“We can, if we decide or if we choose to, split stage 1 into three.
“If funds are not forthcoming, that’s what we will have to do.
“It will mean that some of us can move. But that’s not (ideal) . . . because at the moment we have two staff to every office.”
In May, the City of Karratha knocked back the service’s application for $50,000 from the Annual Community Grant Scheme because centre construction was unlikely to be completed by the end of the 2016/17 financial year set for that intake of funding.
But Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the City supported the centre in principle and recognised its ability to improve social inclusion in town, as well as the need for PCLS to upgrade premises.
“The service has clearly outgrown its current facilities and the City wishes to support them as best we can to expand their services to our community,” he said.
“Council officers have requested further information to ensure the project complies with our funding guidelines and will put forward the application for a second consideration by council once this is received.” Mrs Williams said Lotterywest had requested a feasibility study into rental alternatives before considering funding the centre.
However, she pointed out PCLS had conducted a feasibility study, and using separate offices would defeat the centre’s purpose of providing holistic help to clients.
Mrs Williams said she was still waiting to hear back about an application for funding from Royalties for Regions and the third round of the National Stronger Regions Fund.
Work on the Community Justice Centre has already begun.
PCLS bought the site earlier this year, finished final designs on the centre last week and is awaiting planning approval before construction begins.
Nanette Williams, centre, and staff Flordeliza Larrazabal and Jana Francis with designs for the planned justice centre.