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Chief stands by rehab plan amid criticism

Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
Oscar Colbung, Laurel Sellers and Asha Bhat.
Camera IconOscar Colbung, Laurel Sellers and Asha Bhat. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The organisation set to relinquish responsibility for a troubled Albany public housing estate has defended against suggestions it would be unable to manage the rehabilitation facility it has campaigned for.

Southern Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Asha Bhat said the decision to hand responsibility for the Paddy Coyne Complex in Mt Melville to the Department of Communities, after admitting it could not deal with disruptive tenants, did not mean the organisation’s rehab plan was flawed.

When it was announced, Ms Bhat, who joined SAC after it had taken control of the complex, said her staff were trained in property management and business and not to deal with mental health or substance abuse problems.

That drew criticism from former Albany councillor Janelle Price, who called the admission “a disappointment”.

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“(Ms) Bhat states that her staff are not trained to deal with major social issues . . . if this is the case, why was that admission not made from the outset?” she said.

“Why wasn’t there an expectation from funders that SAC frontline staff be adequately trained prior to the complex being handed over?”

However, Ms Bhat said the rehab plan was not in jeopardy.

“It was always SAC’s intention to lead the rehab facility along with suitable partners who have expertise in clinical practice and governance,” she said.

“We have acknowledged we couldn’t run the rehab on our own.”

The rehab plan has been developed since 2016 but has failed to obtain State or Federal Government funding support.

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