By Melissa Sheil
A FORRESTFIELD cultural hub is putting up a fight after the State Government denied their applcation for continued funding, a denial which will see them shut down by June 2021.
Woodlupine Family Centre has been a feature of the foothills suburb for almost 30 years but the future looks bleak after their operating budget of $72,000 was refused through the Department of Communities tender process.
Community volunteers and staff members are hoping to change the government’s decision with a petition to show community support.
Former centre manager and current member of management team Tanya McGrath believes that the reason given for the funding refusal – not offering a broad enough range of services – is unfair.
“We provide parenting classes, pre-kindy classes, crafting groups, intergenerational playgroups with the Darling Range Senior’s hub, short course and recreational programs and even support services like alcoholics anonymous and speech therapy,” she said.
“We believe that what we provide is quite unique in that people who come for one program often end up staying for another – last year we had three generations of one family accessing different programs we offered at the same time.
“We’ve been here for 28 years and are part of the fabric of the Forrestfield community and we are the closest facility to Wattle Grove so they’ll miss out too.”
Though the petition has only been open a week, it has already received over 300 signatures and the staff are looking for a minister to deliver it to parliament on their behalf.
Member for Forrestfield Stephen Price stated his regard for the centre, having visited on a number of occasions.
“I appreciate the positive, intergenerational impact that the services and programs run by the Woodlupine Family Centre have on families in the local area,” he said.
“I have written to the Minister seeking her advice on what options are available.”
Mother of two Teagan Mitchell expressed her hope that both her children could attend Woodlupine.
“I’d be absolutely heartbroken if my daughter couldn’t have the same opportunity that my son did,” she said.
“Coming here has been wonderful for his self-confidence and we are praying it’s still open when it’s her time.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Communities stated that the funding extensions were only to assist temporarily.
“These extensions provided an opportunity for the service to explore alternative options for sustainable funding options and to implement business decisions to prepare for the cessation of their service agreement,” he said.
Ms McGrath said they cannot seek alternative funding such as government grants as they do not cover staff wages.
“What we’re really asking for is sustainable funding so we can run our programs and give our staff security in their employment,” she said.
“We appreciate that there are financial constraints but what we’re asking for is a way to keep providing valuable services and continue to be a cultural hub.”
CEO of Linkwest Jane Chilcott, the peakbody for community resource centres in WA, said the drastic funding cuts prove the need to overhaul the tender process.
Copies of the petition will be located at Forrestfield Shopping Centre this Saturday October 31 and will be collected by November 13.
The Woodlupine Community Centre shares a building with the Family Centre, which does not face the same potential closure.