Mirrabooka: fight on to save Sudbury Community House

Virginia Aden with Communicare Work for the Dole program in background.
Virginia Aden with Communicare Work for the Dole program in background.

SUDBURY Community House in Mirrabooka is standing strong in the face of a State Government plan to end lease subsidies for 33 not-for-profit childcare and community centres.

The organisation provides community services, vocational training, healthcare, English language classes, an informal drop in centre and playgroups, and is owned by the Department of Local Government and Communities.

Sudbury House executive manager Virginia Aden said the centre was a “rich resource to the community”.

“What we do here is very diverse because we respond to the changing needs of the community; we listen to the issues out there,” she said.

“We don’t know what the impact will be because we as a committee are trying to work out what to do and move forward.”

The changes, which come into effect from June 2018, could affect the business model of Sudbury House, which currently does not pay rent or structural maintenance on the property.

“Every election affects us, you don’t know what is going to happen,” she said.

“Already we are spread thin, we do get funding but the funding isn’t enough, if Sudbury didn’t generate its own income streams from renting out space to services the childcare centre fees, we wouldn’t be here today.

“We will have to change our model so there will be a lot of work for us, we have two years but two years is not very long.”

Community Services Minister Tony Simpson said his department met with Sudbury House management and was exploring options.

“Options include exploring the transfer of the ownership of the property, ensuring that it has certainty about its future and sustaining its valued contribution to the community,” he said.

“Sudbury House has committed to come back to the Department with options for consideration.”

Melissa Seedy-Dittrich said Sudbury House had been a “lifesaver” when she was suffering from depression as a single mother.

“We would be in such a different place if it wasn’t for this place,” she said.

“It was really hard when I moved here; I had no contacts in the area, I didn’t drive and I was in a really bad place with a toddler and a new born.

“When I started coming here things changed, I suffered from depression and I haven’t had medication since I’ve started coming here; there’s always someone here who will listen to me.”

Mirrabooka MLA Janine Freeman said Sudbury House had two important “arms that embrace the community”; the community based childcare centre and the Sudbury Neighbourhood house with a variety of community programs.

Ms Freeman said the Government would save a total of around $1.4 million from the removal of subsidies for 33 centres affected.

“The Department of Local Government and Communities is undermining its core tasks and duties by deciding to penny pinch through removing the subsidy from Sudbury Neighbourhood House and Childcare centre,” she said.

Of the 1137 childcare providers in WA, 33 centres operate from State Government managed properties.

Mr Simpson said the government provided around $6.5 million to 54 programs each year to support its Community and Neighbourhood Development program.