Cen­tres fear ser­vice cuts

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

Pil­bara com­mu­nity and neigh­bour­hood cen­tre staff have expressed con­cern the lo­cal ser­vices they of­fer could be se­verely di­min­ished if a set of pro­posed State Govern­ment changes to their sec­tor are im­ple­mented in com­ing months.

The Depart­ment of Lo­cal Govern­ment and Com­mu­ni­ties met with WA com­mu­nity cen­tre rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in­clud­ing some from the Pil­bara, in Perth last week over a pro­posal WA com­mu­nity cen­tre peak body Linkwest claims will cut about $6.5 mil­lion from sec­tor fund­ing across the State.

Un­der the changes, com­mu­nity cen­tres would have their ser­vices di­vided into two cat­e­gories; one for in­di­vid­ual and fam­ily ser­vices and one for com­mu­ni­ties and their man­age­ment put out to a com­pet­i­tive ten­der­ing process which ex­ter­nal agen­cies could ap­ply for.

Pil­bara com­mu­nity cen­tres ex­pected to be af­fected are the Shire of Ash­bur­ton’s Nin­tirri Cen­tre and Karin­gal Neigh­bour­hood Cen­tre, the Kar­ratha Fam­ily Cen­tre and Yaan­d­ina Fam­ily Cen­tre and the New­man Neigh­bour­hood Cen­tre.

Nin­tirri Cen­tre chief ex­ec­u­tive James Jarvis said while the cen­tre was large enough to sur­vive if the cuts came in, its abil­ity to de­liver pro­grams would be af­fected.

“(Our cen­tre) has been op­er­at­ing since the early 90s, so you’re look­ing at risk­ing more than 20 years of brand and rep­u­ta­tion and be­long­ing in the com­mu­nity,” he said.

“I’ve heard it said to me Nin­tirri is the heart of Tom Price.

“Well­be­ing is the health of the com­mu­nity. You start tak­ing those things away, you’re start­ing to im­pact the health of the com­mu­nity.”

Mr Jarvis said fos­ter­ing com­mu­nity con­nec­tions and pre­vent­ing so­cial is­sues from flar­ing up was very im­por­tant in min­ing towns dom­i­nated by young fam­i­lies without other fam­ily con­nec­tions.

Kar­ratha Fam­ily Cen­tre co­or­di­na­tor Bess Flani­gan said staff and clients at the smaller cen­tre were very con­cerned about the pro­posed changes and how they might be af­fected. “We’ve got up­wards of 40 or 50 fam­i­lies who are here on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and we do school readi­ness, play­groups . . . cy­ber­safety work­shops and pro­tec­tive be­hav­iour work­shops,” she said.

“We would ei­ther have to start charg­ing more for pro­grams or start charg­ing for pro­grams we don’t charge for, or close the doors.”

Linkwest is lob­by­ing for the Govern­ment to re-con­sider the pro­posed cuts, call­ing them the most se­vere in its 40-year his­tory.

Linkwest chief ex­ec­u­tive Jane Chilcott said if im­ple­mented, the changes threat­ened to re­duce the im­por­tant pre­ven­ta­tive and grass­roots com­mu­nity care the cen­tres of­fered.

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