City News

Homeless clinic will be forced to close

By CHRISTOPHER HARRIS

A clinic that helps 1,200 homeless people every year in Darlinghurst has said it will be forced to close in April if it can’t find funding.

The Haymarket Clinic in Darlinghurst lost $900,000 in annual funding in the Federal Government’s 2014-15 Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

The clinic received $990,000 to help it find replacement funding. But with no donors in sight, the clinic will have to close its doors.

The clinic’s CEO, Mat Flynn, told City Hub that it was a shame because it was a good community facility that gave the lives of homeless people who are in and out of short term accomodation some stability.

He said the clinic’s key point of difference from other providers was that it provided long term care, and meant individuals did not have to explain complex medical histories over and over again to new doctors.

“Most people, once they become homeless, they’ll cycle into short term and medium term accommodation, and then become homeless again, and we’ll give them care throughout that cycle, irrespective of whether or not they’re homeless,” Mr Flynn told City Hub.

“A lot of mental health issues, diabetes and hypertension are caused and exacerbated by homelessness. The homeless population also suffer from health problems other people have but because they don’t have access to simple things as refrigeration to store medicines, those health issues can be exacerbated.”

He said because the clinic used all of its money to help the local homeless population, it had not spent money on fund raising networks, which made raising funds a difficult task.

Federal Member for Sydney, Tanya Plibersek, said that the cuts were part of cuts to healthcare to the tune of $60 billion

“The Haymarket Clinic provides vital health services to some of inner-Sydney’s most disadvantaged residents – most of whom are homeless,” Ms Plibersek sai “If Malcolm Turnbull can’t stand up for important health services in his own backyard, he can’t be trusted with Medicare.”

Ms Plibersek has been working with the clinic for a number of years. After redistribution of federal seats this year, it became part of her electorate. The clinic was previously in Malcolm Turnbull’s seat.

“The choice at this year’s election is clear.  “A vote for the Abbott-Turnbull Government means more cuts to health.  A vote for Labor means Medicare will be protected and strengthened.”

Independent MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, said that he supported the vital role the clinic played in the local community. He wrote to the premier on February 24 this year, asking Premier Mike Baird to support the clinic.

“I understand that Commonwealth budget cuts will force the closure of this vital service, despite the Haymarket Foundation’s best efforts to find other sources of income and reduce costs. Funding this service is a cost effective strategy – reducing other costs to the community,” Mr Greenwich wrote in the letter.

In August last year, Mr Greenwich asked Health Minister Pru Goward about securing funding for the clinic.At the time she said in parliament that it was a matter for the Commonwealth.

Mr Baird has not yet formerly replied to Mr Greenwich’s letter.

A spokesperson for  NSW Health said the local health district provided $637,000 in funding to the organisation under the NSW Health NGO Grant Program.

“This funding is ongoing and has not changed,” the spokesperson said.

But the clinic’s CEO said that this money was spent on other programs, including one for people living with HIV as well as a drug rehabilitation program.

“The organisation also receives funding from Family and Community Services, the Commonwealth Government and private donations.”

 

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