Chief executive officer of Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre Rebecca Woods was overjoyed by Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen's announcement of $122,500 in funding for the centre. Image: Laura Thomas
Chief executive officer of Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre Rebecca Woods was overjoyed by Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen's announcement of $122,500 in funding for the centre. Image: Laura Thomas

Call for help to continue providing support answered

A PASSIONATE call for support from a relief organisation in the Whitsundays has been answered after vital funds were reallocated away from the service at the beginning of the year.

The Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre, who provide relief on a case-by-case basis to struggling at at-risk residents, secured $122,500 in funding over the next three years after Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen appealed to the Federal Government.

The emergency relief program will provide support through things such as food vouchers, third party payments towards bills, rental arrears and medication.

Chief executive officer of Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre Rebecca Woods said she “did a happy dance” when she received a call from Mr Christensen.

“I think it’s very important to understand there are a lot of families, it’s not just isolated to low income, who can get into crisis at any time for whatever reason, and we have always been that first port of call for them in the past,” she said.

“We were really concerned about how we couldn’t assist them, but now we can … we’re very, very happy.

“I don’t think we could have managed it without George’s assistance, he went straight to the minister and advocated for our region.”

Whitsunday Counselling and Support also lost emergency relief funding following the reallocation in January, and while they have not received direct financial support Mrs Wood said she would work with them to assist the wider community.

“We will be discussions with Whitsunday Counselling and Support because they still have a client base where their needs aren’t necessarily being met,” she said.

“We’re going to discuss how together how we can best cater to women and children that are fleeing domestic violence.

“Although we’ve received our funding, they’re not going to be left high and dry. We will talk about how together we can meet the needs of their demographic as well as complementing St Vincent De Paul and the Salvation Army as well.”

Mr Christensen said that the funds addressed the shortfalls of the funding reallocation and would provide much-needed support to the region’s vulnerable residents.

“I have been working with providers in the Whitsundays over several months now to address what appeared to be a service gap following changes to organisations which are able to administer emergency relief funding,” he said.

“Providers raised their concerns with me about the level of funding for the Whitsunday region and the degree of difficulty residents would have accessing it.

“I took the matter up with the Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston and was delighted to receive written and verbal confirmation yesterday that further funding would be made available to ensure the Whitsunday region had adequate funding for those who are most in need, and that the funding will be available on the ground.

“Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre will once again be a centre where residents who fall on hard times can go to seek help to get them through tough times.

“Emergency relief acts as a helping hand for the community, providing anything from material aid such as furniture and clothing to medications and rent assistance for eligible clients.”

Emergency relief funding is also available for Whitsunday residents via the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul


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