CRCs fear government axe

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph
Marble Bar Community resource Centre staff Brenda Lockyer, Joan Lever and Brooke Patterson.
Camera IconMarble Bar Community resource Centre staff Brenda Lockyer, Joan Lever and Brooke Patterson. Credit: Taylar Amonini

Concerns are building in regional WA regarding the future of Community Resource Centres as a government review takes place.

Late last year the State Government forecast cuts to the CRC network in 2019-20 which would drop funding from $13 million to $8 million.

On February 2, Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan announced a review of the program.

Peak body for family, resource and learning centres across WA Linkwest has spoken out about the short time left to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the program.

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A Linkwest spokeswoman said the organisation had written to Ms MacTiernan with recommendations for the terms of reference for the review.

“Linkwest believes a comprehensive review will reveal that the network of 105 regional and remote CRCs provides the McGowan Government the opportunity to help their reform agenda ... particularly in regional and remote WA,” she said.

Marble Bar Community Resource Centre project manager Brooke Patterson said if the review was not successful in stopping the funding cuts, it could mean the end of the centre in Marble Bar.

“We’re looking at quite possibly closing — it sounds dramatic but if you’re forced to have only one staff member doing all the work then you’ll have burnout,” she said.

“It’s also not just about keeping doors open and people sending emails — the CRCs are becoming more than that. Here in Marble Bar we’re also the Centrelink agent and we put on trainees.

“I think the review is important and will be effective because it will show (the Government) that every-one can do it themselves now and that’s just incorrect. It would enlighten them to the plight of people in remote situations.”

Ms MacTiernan said the costs of running CRCs had blown out under the Barnett government.

“The total CRC operational cost of $5.9 million in 2009-10 ballooned to $13 million five years later,” she said. “We acknowledge that CRCs provide valuable services, but there is huge variability between individual CRCs in terms of usage and the level of service offered. We also need to take a real look at the locations of our CRCs — there is a disparity in how resources are allocated between the regions.

“But we have to be clear — the budget has been set in line with the State’s current financial capabilities, and this allocation will not change.

“The review will ensure that funding is distributed equitably.”

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will conduct the review, anticipated to be completed by mid-year.

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