THE State Government has responded, in no uncertain terms, to claims recent homelessness funding changes might result in closing services such as the Bega Women’s Refuge.
Mission Australia won a recent Family and Community Services (FACS) tender, which in part will see it facilitate the Bega Valley Homelessness Support Service and take over management of the refuge.
A visit to Bega by Labor’s spokeswoman for housing and Shadow Minister Assisting Women Sophie Cotsis last week (BDN, 1/7) saw many community members express concerns over losing the experience of the South East Women and Children’s Service, which founded the refuge.
Member for Bega Andrew Constance and Family and Community Services Minister Gabrielle Upton have condemned Labor for preying on the fears of the most vulnerable members of the Bega community.
“Under Labor’s watch, too many people in need were falling through the cracks. Between 2006 and 2011, homelessness in NSW increased by 27 per cent,” Mr Constance said.
“Labor is out there making claims that are not only misleading, but prey on the fears of those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“Under Going Home Staying Home, the NSW Government will invest a record $445million over three years for non-government organisations to deliver homelessness services.
“This includes $4.87million in 2014/15 for the Southern NSW FACS district.
“Crucially, the reforms will put more focus on early intervention and prevention.
“They put more focus on catching people before they fall into crisis point.”
Ms Upton said those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness “deserve the facts not fiction”.
“Labor are shamelessly rolling out ‘Save our Service’ scare campaigns around the state claiming those in need will be worse off.
“While service providers may change, the services they delivered will continue.
“They are being handed over to providers who have been independently assessed as being able to provide the highest quality service for the best possible price,” Ms Upton said.
To assist the transition, the NSW Government has announced the creation of a “safety net for those service providers who can demonstrate why they should be funded if they missed out on the original tender”.
To be eligible for the Service Support Fund, the unsuccessful providers need to demonstrate through a project plan that they can provide a specialist homelessness service that will otherwise not be provided by the new successful providers.
“The NSW Government is committed to delivering reform that will better support those in need and help break the cycle of homelessness,” Mr Constance said.