Davies: Labor undervalues CRCs

Despite the state government saying no CRCs will close, reduced operational funding will put significant strain on service delivery, says Wheatbelt MLA Mia Davies.

COMMUNITY resource centres such as the one in Gingin should not have to compete with each for funding, according to Central Wheatbelt MLA Mia Davies.

Ms Davies said Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan’s plan to pit community resource centres against each other to fight for funding would ultimately fail regional communities.

She said the State Budget had confirmed the Community Resource Network would have 40 per cent of its funding slashed from July 1 next year and that community resource centres (CRCs) had until Sunday, May 20 to respond to Labor’s proposed two-tier funding model.

“Labor’s proposed two-tier funding model, announced last month, will see some CRCs lose more than half their operational funding, with the Minister preying on those that have said they will no longer be sustainable under new arrangements,’’ she said.

“The Minister is on the record saying CRCs that want to increase funding under the proposed new arrangements could do so at the expense of another centre’s allocation.

“She is attempting to divide and conquer individual centres by saying there is room for negotiation but additional funding will only come at the expense of another.”

Ms Davies said the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development would finalise a review of the network midyear ­ –  a review which did not commence until after funding cuts were outlined.

She urged the Minister and her department to closely consider feedback from centres, saying harsh funding cuts to 105 CRCs across WA had left a bitter taste in the mouth of regional communities.

“These grassroots organisations know their communities better than anyone and are best positioned to advise the department on appropriate structures and service delivery models that meet community needs and expectations.

“I am calling on DPIRD and the Minister to take very careful note of feedback they receive from the organisations impacted on how the network can be administered in the future.”

Ms Davies said the McGowan Government undervalued the role CRCs play in maintaining healthy, connected communities and providing a shopfront for vital state and federal government services.

“Across WA they provide services for youth, the elderly, people living with disability, professional development, traineeships, employ hundreds of people and are supported by more than 1000 volunteers,” she said.

“Despite the state government saying no CRCs will close, reduced operational funding will put significant strain on service delivery and limit their region-building capacity.”

Earlier this year Ms MacTiernan said under the Barnett government the cost of operating the CRCs had ballooned to $13m a year and as part of bringing the finances back into order the Mcgowan Government believed an allocation of $8m represened what would have been a normal growth trajectory.

Ms MacTiernan said the government had allocated $42m across the forward estimates for the CRC program.

The government had written to all CRCs, seeking feedback on a recommended future funding approach at a more sustainable level.

She said under the recommended approach, the majority of CRCs would be offered $70,000 a year.

Some CRCs would be offered $50,000 a year where they were located either in a bigger community – a population of more than 3000 people or in close proximity to another CRC or a major regional centre – less than 30km.

“It is proposed that CRCs focus primarily on the delivery and facilitation of government, health and community information and services,’’ she said.