Left out in the cold

THE City of Fremantle has blamed �years of funding inequities� for its decision to stop funding the Warrawee Women�s Refuge.

The City released a statement last Friday saying it could no longer subsidise the operation of the local refuge because of funding issues with the Department of Child Protection and Family Services (DCPFS).

The refuge includes five rooms that can house up to five women and 12 children.

Last year, 50 women and 59 children used the service, while in 2013 it helped 39 women and 77 children.

The current annual grant funding for Warrawee is $471,331, with Fremantle contributing $143,119 in the 2013-14 financial year and will contribute $85,000 until September, when the contract expires.

The DCPFS recently invited the city to extend its support of the refuge until June, 2018, with a fixed contract of $471,331, but the City said the fixed price funding was inadequate to deliver the services.

Fremantle Community development director Marisa Spaziani said it was not the preferred outcome.

�If the department was prepared to provide reasonable funding for this critical service, the council and City’s officers would continue to support Warrawee,� she said.

�The City has been subsidising Warrawee for many years and it is with great regret that the City made the difficult decision not to continue as the provider of this important service which for more than 40 years has helped hundreds of women and children escape domestic violence.�

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the council intended to reallocate the money to other services that helped women who were subject to domestic violence.

�City of Fremantle staff will bring back a report on this but it is likely to include better legal services for women who need violence restraining orders and other measures,� he said.

�We are not reducing the Fremantle council�s commitment to the provision of these important services but are simply rejecting what was becoming an increasingly unfair and inequitable approach to funding by the department.�

The decision means the department needs to find another provider for the service, but DCPFS director general Emma White said the department was committed to ensure a refuge continues to operate in the area.

�The department is working with the City to identify a solution that will be mutually beneficial to all parties,� she said.

Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk said she was disappointed with the decision.

�It�s true that the State Government has a major role to play in contributing realistic funding to women�s refuges, but it beggars belief that the council refuses to find money out of their budget to assist women and children leaving violent relationships,� she said.

�I would think most Fremantle ratepayers would think that this would be a reasonable contribution to such an important service.�