TWO Bega Valley Shire councillors have called for a debate into the Going Home, Staying Home (GHSH) tender process that has resulted in the temporary closure of the Bega Women’s Refuge.
The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) has confirmed the refuge will be closed for at least another eight weeks as maintenance work continues.
Cr Sharon Tapscott has placed a notice of motion for Wednesday’s council meeting asking to acknowledge the Women’s Resource Centre’s (WRC) request to support Save Our Services.
The WRC assisted in collecting local signatures for Save Our Services petition, now numbering 14,000 signatures, for a debate in NSW Parliament over the tender outcomes of GHSH.
Locally this has resulted in a transfer in management of the Bega Women’s Refuge to Mission Australia from South East Women and Children’s Services (SEWACS).
Cr Tapscott has tabled a recommendation that calls for BVSC to support the call for a debate into the tendering process and also to “engage in some meaningful discussions on what practical solutions it may offer, in looking for options to reduce homelessness and increase crisis care within our local government area for all sections of our community”.
Cr Keith Hughes is also putting a notice on motion, this one directed specifically at the refuge.
He has asked for council to acknowledge “the strong community support for Bega Women’s Refuge including from local police and the vital services it has provided over 26 years” and for council for to call for the “refuge run by Mission Australia to operate 24/7 and for staffing levels to be maintained at previous levels (10 staff) to ensure the area is adequately serviced”.
The refuge is currently closed for maintenance after Mission and the NSW Housing Department identified safety issues that need to be addressed (BDN, 9/9).
Mission has been unable to give a timetable for the refuge’s reopening and has referred all inquiries on the matter to FACS.
A spokesperson for FACS told the BDN, “the refuge is currently being upgraded to meet fire safety requirements and there is also a considerable amount of maintenance and further upgrades which will be completed over the next eight weeks”.
“All clients who were being accommodated in the property were transitioned to other stable accommodation before Mission Australia assumed responsibility for the refuge, in anticipation of the upgrades taking place.
“A site meeting involving FACS and Mission Australia is planned to discuss the maintenance program and ways for it to be completed as quickly as possible.
“NSW Family and Community Services is working with Mission Australia and staff at the Bega Women’s Refuge to make sure there is as little disruption to services as possible, and to ensure the facilities are maintained to a high standard.
“In the interim, Mission Australia continues to support people in Bega who are facing homelessness. Those who require assistance should call (02) 4824 4000,” the spokesperson said.