CRCs at risk in state budget

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Rebecca Low, NewsvineWA Reporter

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The State Government has proposed a future funding scheme for Community Resource Centres across Western Australia which would see a reduction in their funding.

Under the recommendation the majority of CRCs would be offered $70,000 a year –  if they are in a community with over 3000 people or $50,000 a year for CRCs in smaller towns.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said: “CRC funding blew out tremendously under the Barnett spending spree. The total CRC operational cost of $5.9 million in 2009-10 ballooned to $13 million five years later.”

CRCs deliver government services such as Centrelink and Medicare to rural communities, as well as allowing them access to community, business and economic development activities.

For rural communities these centres can act as the bridge for people to connect to the city.

John Nicholas, Manager for Bridgetown CRC said, “The community would be adversely affected by any reduction of services especially those related to Centrelink, job providers, and those who rely on the services provided by the CRC.” He said the CRC had in excess of 1,000 contact per month.”

The Bridgetown CRC was opened in 1996 and is run by the local community for the locals and tourists who pass through.

“For Bridgetown a 50% cut in funding would in the long term (2-3 years) mean that the CRC would close its doors,” said Mr Nicholas.

The new budget would see the allocation of $8 million to the 105 CRCs across the state.

“We could manage with a small reduction, this latest proposal which is clearly aimed at a “divide and conquer” mentality and the proposed 50% cut will be fatal. While this government talks about $8 million for CRC’s this proposal only seeks to distribute $6.7 million. If all CRC’s were provided with $75,00, an amount that it is possible to survive on, then this would take us closer to the $8 million,” said Mr Nicholas

The budget cuts will not be noticeable straight away by the communities according to the Bridgetown CRC manager but gradually different services would no longer be able to be operated and they would have to cut staff and the open hours of the centre.

“That eventually means those staff would need to find new jobs to sustain their households,” said Mr Nicholas.

The Government is currently only seeking feedback from the CRCs to gauge their opinions on the proposed budget but the Government is looking to make funding for these services more sustainable and to merge CRCs that are located close together.

According to MacTiernan, “There is no intention to close the program or to stop the funding of CRCs – we have allocated $42 million across the forward estimates for the CRC program.”

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About the Writer
Rebecca Low, Reporter
Rebecca is a positive student studying her Bachelor of Media and Communications, majoring in Broadcasting. She aims to work in the news world after finishing university at the end of the year. Rebecca is passionate about the arts after dancing for 17 years. Related
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CRCs at risk in state budget