Centres in funding threat

David SalvaireSound Telegraph
Val Ashley, Tanya Miller and Natalie McLaren from the Westerly Family Centre in Cooloongup.
Camera IconVal Ashley, Tanya Miller and Natalie McLaren from the Westerly Family Centre in Cooloongup. Credit: David Salvaire

At least four Rockingham community centres are under threat due to a new funding model proposed by the WA Government, the sector’s peak body Linkwest has warned.

The Supporting Communities Program would see services put to tender rather than given directly to neighbourhood groups which are presently the preferred service providers.

Linkwest chief executive Jane Chilcott said the changes would dismantle 20 years of work.

“We’re concerned about the bigger groups because they have a greater capacity to pay professional tender writers,” she said.

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“So a very small amount of money which is having a significant impact in 50 centres could end up being spread randomly across WA with much less impact.

“The place-based services will be taken away and the ability for people to connect to their communities through these centres lost.”

The proposal comes after the previous government cut maintenance and rent funding from centres across WA.

The McGowan Government criticised those changes in opposition but have not reversed them.

Managers of the Westerly Family Centre in Cooloongup say they are distraught over the uncertainty that the new funding model has caused.

“We’ve been around since 2000 and we’ve got four groups that have been here for longer than 10 years. That will have a huge impact on those groups which are obviously needed because they’re still running,” a spokeswoman said.

“If we don’t get funding or if it goes to another service we’ll lose those groups. If we’re not successful with the open tender then we need to dissolve the association and hand the centre back to the City.”

The Department of Local Government and Communities has briefed the sector about the changes and released a statement which said the open tender would provide fair and equal access to funding.

“This will ensure the best outcomes are achieved for the community,’ it said. “There has been no reduction in total funding for this program with the current funding of $9.4 million to continue to be invested in activities that support communities.”

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