FOREST Lakes Thornlie Family Centre believes local families will feel the brunt of proposed cuts to the community centre sector.
Neighbourhood centres around WA are facing severe funding cuts after the Department of Local Government and Communities proposed changes to its funding system.
William Langford Community House in Langford could also be affected by the cuts, as could Roleystone Neighbourhood Family Centre and Armadale Community Family Centre.
Forest Lakes Thornlie Family Centre co-ordinator Kristy Campbell said the proposals were “quite upsetting” and believed the local community would be hit the hardest if they came to fruition.
“It’s not just about the money; it’s about the fact I employ seven local staff, it affects their families if they’re not working. It’s really about where will these people in the community go?” she said.
“A lot of families will say to us, ‘it’s our only contact with other people for a week’. So the sad part about it is, if we’re not here, where are these people going to go?
“In this centre alone, we’re catering for Cannington to Byford and we’re getting the numbers, we can serve over 400 families a week.”
Mrs Campbell said the tight-knit and friendly atmosphere was an integral part of community centres.
“It’s also (about) the personal touches we provide that they don’t get from bigger services,” she said.
“It’s the ability we have to sit with them when they’re having a bad time and point them in the right direction to a different organisation, that they don’t get from big places.”
She said the Department of Local Government and Communities wanted to fund less centres and would have to justify why they should continue to receive support.
“They did hold consultation sessions for us which they implied was about us having a say about how we think this would all work and how it’s going to affect us,” Mrs Campbell said.
“From a centre’s perspective, we took it as them telling us ‘this is what’s happening,’ there was no consultation in it.”
A Department of Local Government and Communities spokeswoman said their new funding scheme would provide the same amount of money, however it would now be filtered through two different streams.
“Funding for the new program is $9.4 million per year, which is the cumulative budget of the former programs. There has been no reduction in total funding,” she said.
“An open tender process will provide fair and equitable access to government funding opportunities to ensure the best outcomes are achieved for the community.”
But Linkwest, the peak governing body for neighbourhood and community resource centres in WA, said the new stream system would significantly restrict the funding it would be able to offer certain centres.
Chief executive Jane Chilcott said she wanted a review of the funding to take placer and the consultation sessions had not been productive.
“We are advocating for what’s happening now to stop and full review to take place,” she said.
“We don’t feel there’s been sufficient consultation, there should have been consultation within specific locations around the state and the opportunity for people to submit what’s working or what needs to be improved.”