Cuts threaten family centre

Kulungah Myah Family Centre chair Renee Case and coordinator Rose Alden say they’re running out of options to keep open. Photo by Steve Grant.

A KARDINYA family centre is facing closure just as it reaches its 30th anniversary because of funding cuts by the McGowan government.

The Kulungah Myah Family Centre on Le Souef Drive was one of a raft of neighbourhood centres left in the lurch two years ago when the Department of Communities forced them to put in a tender for their funding.

Unable to match the submissions of bigger non-profit organisations such as Fremantle’s St Pats or the Melville council, Kulungah Myah was one of those that missed the cut.

After a public outcry the department agreed to reinstate funding for all the unsuccessful community groups for a year, which was later extended until next June.

But Kulungah Myah coordinator Rose Alden told the Herald there’s only enough left in the kitty to run for another six months after the cut-off and they’re running out of options.

Fruitless

Communities told the centre to look for other “sustainable” funding models, but Ms Alden said they’ve looked at various grants and most won’t cover administration costs or wages, while trying to crack corporate sponsorship has been similarly fruitless.

“How much interest would a mining company have in a small family centre?” she asks.

“There has to be something in it for them.”

Kalungah Myah chairperson Renee Case said there were many community organisations that relied on using the centre each week.

“We have a pre-kindy aimed at three-year-olds, a toy library I help run, a film academy for teenagers, church and spiritual groups, seniors group, and a Japanese language and culture playgroup,” Ms Case said.

Ms Alden said about 250 people use the centre each week, and during Covid they’d helped provide an important service to local seniors.

“When our seniors could not come, we rallied and partnered with the local IGA who provided the staples, while we purchased some teabags and things like and went round to our seniors and said “we’re here, we are just doing things a little differently’,” she said.

In a letter to Willagee MP Peter Tinley asking for a little ministerial pressure on Communities, Ms Case and the centre’s management committee said they were concerned about the social impact of either closing or having to give up the space.

“After nearly three decades of service, we have become an integral part of the social fabric of Kardinya,” they wrote.

“The negative impact on our identity and morale will be profound, and the withdrawal of support to families in our immediate locale will be both disappointing and destabilising.”

Melville councillor Nicole Robins, who’s also running for the state seat of Bicton for the Liberal party, told the Herald that Kulungah Myah provided the community to come together, learn, create and share ideas.

“It’s important that state governments invest in family and community centres,” she says.

“These centres support so many other groups in the local area and give them a place to come together.

“I will be attending the community meeting at the family centre on Wednesday December 16 at 7pm.”

The department said organisations like Kulungah Myah had been given enough time to get their affairs in order.

“These extensions provided an opportunity for the service to explore alternative options for sustainable funding and to implement business decisions to prepare for the cessation of their service agreement,” the department said in a release that no one would put their name to.

“With the Community and Neighbourhood Services program no longer operating and the organisation’s tender being unsuccessful, there is no further funding available from the Department of Communities to extend the service agreement it has with the Kulungah Myah Family Centre past June 30, 2021.

The department pointed to a program offered by St Pat’s for disadvantaged people in Beaconsfield as an example of successful tenderers “in this part of the metropolitan area” under its new Empowering Communities Program.

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