Youth group under fire

VPYA support workers Bradley Varis, Kathy Grainger, Sarah Richards, Taylor Leather and manager Marilyn Crispin. Picture: Louise White www.communitypix.com.au d408942
VPYA support workers Bradley Varis, Kathy Grainger, Sarah Richards, Taylor Leather and manager Marilyn Crispin. Picture: Louise White www.communitypix.com.au d408942

Last week she interviewed a pregnant woman forced to live in her car after losing her home and with more than 120 people ” not including their children ” on the waiting list of up to a year for external accommodation, the situation is dire.

This makes the vital work of this not-for-profit organisation ” work that Mrs Crispin calls ‘crime prevention’ ” even more important but incredibly it too was under the threat of homelessness just last week with an October 6 deadline to vacate its Anglican church-owned premises at Leonard Street.

At a special meeting of the Town of Victoria Park last Tuesday, Cr John Bissett unsuccessfully argued the VPYA should pay a commercial rent of $500 per week, plus outgoings, for a vacant council-owned house at 8 Kent Street instead of being allowed to negotiate a 12-month lease agreement with the CEO and Mayor.

A report from the VPYA said it could afford to pay $600 a month if necessary but Mrs Crispin told the Gazette it had been paying the church a monthly rent of $1300.

Cr Bissett said while it was a fantastic organisation, it had been ‘bleeding off the Anglican church for years’ and had had six months to find new accommodation due to redevelopment of the Leonard Street site.

Cr Bissett, who said he was a member of the Anglican congregation which was full of ‘bleeding hearts’, labelled the item’s surprise appearance on the agenda instead of at the later elected members’ briefing session as an ‘abuse of power and process’.

He said he lived at the back of a VPYA house whose tenants threw rubbish over his fence and police had been called three times.

Mayor Trevor Vaughan said there was ‘no shonky business’ going on but the council solution would help the group continue its good work for a year when the lease arrangements could be renegotiated.

Mrs Crispin told the Gazette the group received $350,000 per annum from the Federal Government via the State Department for Child Protection and its programs, which focus on parenting, budgeting, domestic violence, nutrition, health, cooking, drug and alcohol use, would have to be cut to pay the rent.

‘It’s a quango (a quasi non-governmental organisation) funded by the State and the Feds. Why negotiate? Why shouldn’t we get a reasonable return for our house?’ Cr Bissett said.

But fellow councillor Rowena Skinner criticised Cr Bissett, saying he was being ‘rude and bloody nasty’.

‘It is more appropriate to offer (this help) than damn them to hell and condemn the staff and kids (at VPYA). It’s inappropriate,’ she said.

Cr Bissett’s motion was lost 1-6votes but he did support the recommendation that the group move into Kent Street this week and negotiate the lease with the CEO and Cr David Ashton in place of the Mayor, whose voluntary role on the VPYA committee would make it unethical for him to do so.

VPYA fact box
– Supports and accommodates homeless
young people aged 15-25
– 45% of these are indigenous and
45% are culturally and linguistically
diverse
– In 19 houses – six in the Town of Victoria
Park, three in the City of Belmont and
10 in the City of Canning
– Was established 30 years ago