Hundreds of Yass’ most vulnerable may be literally left out in the cold if the Rae Burgess Centre is forced to close its doors in December.
The NSW government has confirmed it will not fund the centre, so Anglicare has agreed to keep the doors open for a further six months as it desperately tries to secure a long-term funding solution.
It will rely on donations gathered as part of its 2012 Winter Appeal.
The charity is calling for a guarantee from Community Services Minister Pru Goward and Burrinjuck MP Katrina Hodgkinson that some sort of service provider will be put into place to assist the hundreds of families the Rae Burgess Centre was set to help.
“The funds from the estate are very close to being exhausted,” said Simon Bennett, general manager of Anglicare NSW Southern Tablelands.
“Indeed it is anticipated that there will be no available funds available as of June 30 this year. I encourage Yass locals to give generously to the appeal to help Anglicare keep the doors of this critical service open until a long term partner can be found.”
He hoped to raise at least $40,000 to keep it open until December 2012. He urged all Yass Valley residents to get behind them and donate what they could.
The centre was funded through the estate of the late Sister Rae Burgess for five years, and has recently relied on two one-off government grants from the Department of Family and Community Services and the NSW Premier’s Department. During the past seven years of operation it has serviced nearly 980 clients locally – averaging about 142 people or families each year.
“My concern is what happens to the service in December if no funding is found?” Mr Bennett said.
Although the government ministers had made attempts at securing funding, “at the end of the day, we still don’t have enough funding”.
It costs $80,000 annually to keep it running at its current capacity of three days per week.
Other service providers did not offer the same type of service, which included advocacy, counselling, family support, homeless services, referral assistance, financial support and even help with groceries.
“The Rae Burgess Centre is embedded within the Yass community and it’s owned by the Yass community,” he said.
“I strongly believe [Ms Goward and Ms Hodgkinson] should be asked about the potential closure in December and what will be put in place… We need a guarantee of a service provider for Yass’ homeless.
“What happens to the hundreds of families who will be left homeless in the next few years?”
Goulburn services are already at capacity and clients are unable to seek help from the ACT because of cross-border restrictions.
“Hence the Rae Burgess Centre is seen as critical for this area.”
To support the Rae Burgess Centre donate to Anglicare on 6245 7100.