Yacaaba Centre, Service looses Funding

Examiner 27 August 2014: Yaccaba Centre Handed Lifeline

Letter From The Yaccaba Centre 25 August 2014: Answers To Some Misconceptions 

Newcastle Herald 15 August 2014: Yaccaba Centre For Homeless To Close After 25 Years

Examiner 13 Aug 2014: Redhead Backing Yaccaba Centre

Examiner August 06 2014: Groundswell Of Support To Save The Yaccaba Centre

Sydney Morning Herald 26 July 2014: Ann Summers – Bleaker Prospects For Women Fleeng Violence

Update 31 July 2014: A ‘Save Our Yaccaba’ meeting was attended by about 70 enthusiastic supporters today at the Tomaree Community Centre to hear The Hon Sophie Costis MLC, Shadow minister for Women and Housing, Kate Washington, Endorsed State Labor Candidate and a statement read from Craig Bauman, State Member for Port Stephens, on the ‘Going Home, Staying Home’ policy that will see many facilities like ours closed across the state. Women seeking refuge from domestic violence must find this an ironic name for an unhelpful policy.

The meeting was also addressed by representatives of the Clergy, Rotary, Women in Business and TRRA Inc.

IMG1Lyn Vatner from the Yaccaba Centre gave a comprehensive report on the situation facing the Centre in the near future. The office will close in October and and the Housing Department premises will be converted into relief housing.  In a meeting with the successful tenderer in Raymond Terrace this week she confirmed the there is no plan to open any office on the Peninsula to replace the one that has been there for 19 years. The emphasis is now to be on homelessness, none of the Information and Counselling services provided at present will be funded in the future.

The meeting was addressed by many people who have been helped by the Centre in the past.  Many of them wanted to tell their stories, tears and raw emotions were on display all round, most could not believe that the support that they had in the past was to be removed in such an arbitrary fashion. The point was made that even though the funding for the area would substantially increase the important services now available to our most vulnerable would decrease.

The Centre has applied for temporary funding for 18 months and will find out if they were successful in the next few months, however they will still have to vacate their premises and much discussion was had on initiatives by the community to keep the service operating. The search is on for new  digs and a way to fund them now that they will have to pay commercial rent.

TRRA Inc. says that it will be a sad day indeed if there is no door to knock on in the whole Peninsula if you are in desperate circumstances or an untenable family situation and need not just a bed but someone to help you to sort out your immediate problems. We need to get behind the retention of these services as a caring community.

TRRA Inc. will endevour to keep our community informed on this issue through this site. please comment at the bottom of this post to show your support.

Update 17 July 2014: Reports were given to the 14 July TRRA General Meeting on this issue and will be available in the minutes when they are completed. We asked The successful tenderers how they were going to service this area from Raymond Terrace but they said that they were no able to comment at this time.  Considering that they have won the tender and  the contract is due to be signed by the end of this month we find that to be of some concern. TRRA Inc. will keep asking.

Examiner 16 July 2014: Port Ministers Take Stand On Budget Cuts

Yacaaba Centre, Domestic Violence Counselling Service looses Funding

Driveway of Traditional Craftsman House

The Issue:

At our first General meeting in March this year, Kate Washington, the endorsed Labor Party candidate for the state seat of Port Stephens, reported to the meeting her concerns about the future of the Tomaree lodge and the Yacaaba Centre (Women’s Support Service) in Nelson Bay given the current Government’s announced policies of closure of all disability residential care facilities such as Tomaree Lodge and a tender process for reform of the funding of Specialist Homeless services.(SHS) which would include our Yacaaba Centre Information and  Counselling Service.

Link to Yacaaba Centre Site: http://www.yacaabacentre.com.au/ 

Letter from Yacaaba Centre: HERE

TRRA’s reaction to this report was our usual one in matters that affect our community, but may also include a political component; we attempted to provide a forum for all interested parties including the stakeholders to express their views for our member’s consideration and comment at the meeting and on this site.

We bought the matter to the attention of the sitting member Mr Craig Bauman and he apologised for not being available to attend our meeting, but after some prompting did provide us with a statement which was read out to the meeting before Kate Washington and some of the affected parties updated the meeting on further developments. The resulting discussion is recorded in the 12 May Minutes HERE. 

Unfortunately the tender process that was be completed early this year had to be rescheduled several times when the stakeholders realised that this was to be a major consolidation, requiring complex negotiations with other groups to be able to produce a competitive tender and the Government realised that limiting the tenders to 200 words per question was not appropriate and increased it to 400 words necessitating the whole process to start from scratch again……….(word count in this article to this point has already reached  302!)

This meant that the process was not finalised before our meeting, however the results are now in, and our worst fears, it seems have been realised.  Our Centre, the only one that has been providing these services on the Tomaree Peninsula for the last 25 years, has now lost its funding. The successful tenderer was The Raymond Terrace Neighbourhood Centre Inc, partnered by Port Stephens Family Support Service Inc. both based in Raymond Terrace. They will now have funding of $885,000.00 be responsible for all homeless services, family, women’s, men’s, youth, and indigenous support services for the whole region.

“The Service targets young people, single men, single women, and families. This includes women and families escaping domestic violence. The service provides holistic homelessness accommodation and support services across the Port Stephens area. This Service has a strong focus on services for Aboriginal young people, women, men and families, and will ensure services are accessible to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.” 

“This means that the advice about the tender outcomes will be provided in June. All existing services will be funded at their current level for another month until the end of July. Contracts will be signed by 1 August, and the handover period operates from 1 August until the end of October. New services will commence in their entirety from 1 November 2014.”

The Background:

I have quoted Anne Summers, a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald for more background, link to the full article is below:

 All this is happening because Pru Goward, now the Minister for Planning, but formerly Minister for Family and Community Services, in July 2012 set in train ”a major reform” for specialist homelessness services. 

The proposed reforms, called Going Home, Staying Home, required existing services to tender to retain their funding and management. When the tender details were announced, last November, there was widespread consternation. 

None of the tender packages covered women-only services, and those that did cover domestic violence were for families rather than women. ”It was a big surprise,” Gillian Cohen, DVSM’s (Domestic Violence NSW Service Management) general manager, told me, ”when the tenders came out and we were asked to tender for your area rather than for your refuge.” 

There are a large number of other refuges not managed by DVSM and other specialist women’s services that cater for single women, women leaving prison, dealing with mental illness, post rehab and other crisis situations that simply were not covered by the tenders.

Partly this is because successive state and federal governments have bureaucratically forced women’s services into the ”homelessness” silo for funding and administrative purposes. While it is true that domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness among women, this focus distorts what many of these services actually do: which is provide refuge, trauma counselling and transition to a new life for women and children escaping violence. (My emphasis, this is how our Centre saw its main role)

By focusing on homelessness – and ”families” – we lose sight of women and the women-centred values that have informed the establishment and running of so many services. And the tender simply ignored them. As a result more than 60 such services Statewide have lost their funding (a combined total of $5 million) and are set to close. 

The new minister, Gabrielle Upton, has announced a Service Support Fund, including $2 million for women’s services, for unsuccessful tenderers to apply for 18 months’ funding to carry on with. But, service providers say, this will not meet the needs, especially as they will now have to pay commercial rent on the buildings they occupy that, before the tender, were rent-free.

The other big change is that the ”big four” religious charities (Salvation Army, Mission Australia, Wesley Mission and St Vincent de Paul) are now the main non-government providers of services for homeless people. Of the $16 million handed out for inner-city services, $11 million has gone to the big four via an invitation-only tender process, according to a document prepared by a women’s services advocate. Another person close to the scene has calculated that 62 per of the tenders have gone to these charities, either as lead agencies or as partners.

The motives behind the reforms included trying to force the administrative rationalisation of the many single service operations to increase efficiency. The result is that 336 individual services have been consolidated into 149 ”new service packages”. (And that does not include the still unknown number of services that have lost their funding altogether.) 

Sydney Morning Herald 26 June 2014,

Anne Summers says: Pru Goward’s tender touch brushes women aside

What Can We Do?

This is a very complex subject and TRRA Inc. shares the concerns expressed by the Yacaaba Centre about the future of its services on the Peninsula, and what will happen to the current facilities and the highly qualified and experienced staff.

We will be asking the new organisation and the Local Member to explain how they propose to manage these vital services more effectively from Raymond Terrace.

The Yacaaba Centre currently pays a peppercorn rent to Housing NSW for the premises it occupies at 112 Stockton St. Nelson Bay, this includes a small emergency accommodation unit and access to two other Housing NSW Units. They will have to vacate these office premises of 19 years by the end of October and the service will all be handed over to the successful tenderers by 1st November.

Yacaaba can apply for an extended funding package for a further 18 months but this will be difficult to achieve given the limited funding available and all the other competing unfunded groups in the State.  The other major problem will be getting a lease on another property as they will now have to pay full commercial rents and with the uncertainty of continuous future funding, lease conditions may be impossible to negotiate.  They are currently looking for a small 2 bedroom house to let, for this purpose; a kind benefactor might be able to assist! The Service has access to another premise that was donated for housing single women; fortunately this has been kept separate and will NOT have to be handed over with the rest of the assets.

We will continue to monitor this situation for our membership and will endeavor to assist the new service to become established here but will try to support the existing one in the mean time. This matter will be on the agenda for our General Meeting 14 July. Come along and have your say!

Examiner 17 June 2014: Yacaaba Centre’s Funding Shock

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One Response to Yacaaba Centre, Service looses Funding

  1. Nigel Waters says:

    Thanks for great coverage of this important issue. No-one at yesterday’s meeting can be in any doubt about the value of the Centre and the impact if it has to close. The suggestion from Craig Baumann’s representative that the solution is charitable fundraising was insulting. Donations are a great ‘top-up’ but too uncertain for base funding of the Centre – looking after the vulnerable is core business for government. Greens policy is for adequate funding both of emergency housing and of advice and counselling and we will be right behind the campaign to save the Yacaaba Centre. Nigel Waters, Port Stephens Greens 0407 230 342.

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