By Georgia Kriz.
The NSW Government’s controversial plan to close homelessness services across the state have been watered down again, with Community Services Minister Gabrielle Upton reiterating last week that $8.6 million of funding would go towards supporting inner city homelessness outreach services.
$2 million of this will go directly towards keeping five inner city women’s-only refuges open for the foreseeable future.
The five services are Detour House, Young People’s Refuge, B Miles, Stepping Out Housing, and the Community Restorative Centre women’s program.
These refuges had previously been told that as of October 31, their state funding would be withdrawn.
Minister Upton told the Sydney Morning Herald that the reinstatement of funding was part of a larger blueprint to reduce homelessness across Sydney.
“Over the next three years, the NSW government will invest a record half a billion dollars right across NSW to tackle homelessness,” she said.
Many shelters are still at risk of being forced to close their doors due to insufficient or withdrawn funding, however, especially those in rural and regional NSW.
Just a day after Minister Upton’s announcement, Katoomba’s women’s-only refuge Blue Gum shut down.
The shelter had been providing assistance and shelter to women in the region for over 30 years.
Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Greens member of the NSW Legislative Council, welcomed the funding but expressed concern over rural and regional services.
“Whilst the restoration of funding for some inner city services is welcome, the Minister’s announcement does not go far enough. There are still many regional NSW and other providers that have or will be shutting down services as a result of a harsh and uninformed policy,” she said.
Dr Faruqi also congratulated the community groups who had been protesting the funding cuts.
“It is only because of the hard work of women activists that the Government has been forced to change their decision and this activism will continue until the entire program is overhauled.
Penny Sharpe, Labor candidate for the state seat of Newtown, condemned the Baird government’s indecision.
“Women need to be confident that they will have somewhere to when they need to escape their own homes. This government has given them no confidence whatsoever.
“The community campaign forced a back down on some closures but uncertainty remains.”