Queries over SARFP closure

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Anna Plapp, Melita Hayward and Karine Colbung.
Camera IconAnna Plapp, Melita Hayward and Karine Colbung. Credit: Laurie Benson

Gnowangerup woman Melita Hayward says struggling indigenous families in the Great Southern will suffer because of the Federal Government’s decision to scrap funding for a local indigenous support service.

Ms Hayward delivers the now-defunded Safe and Resilient Families Program through the Southern Aboriginal Corporation, a program she described as irreplaceable.

She said the team at SAC had helped more than 300 indigenous people in the Katanning district in the past year.

Despite her positive experience with SARFP, it was set to close in two months.

In April, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the program had not “achieved strong outcomes”.

A Federal Government spokesman said the program funding was cut for not delivering effective results for the community.

“Despite considerable support provided by the (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet) Southern Aboriginal Corporation was unable to deliver an effective intensive family case management service,” they said.

With SARFP gone, Ms Hayward said there would not be enough support available for struggling indigenous communities around Katanning.

“In this current role I could see up to 15 people in one day,” Ms Hayward said.

“I have clients from Katanning, Gnowangerup, Tambellup, Wagin, Kojonup, and Dumbleyung.

“They wouldn’t be able to get similar help anywhere in the region once our program ceased to exist.”

Ms Hayward said SARFP provided many indigenous people with free legal support, representation in child protection, home eviction prevention and more.

Under SARFP, Ms Hayward works with the Department of Communities and local police to identify at-risk indigenous families and individuals.

“When I started in 2016, there were 18 families under eviction from the Department of Communities in Katanning alone,” Ms Hayward said.

“I helped the majority of those families get back into their house.”

With funding scrapped, full-time employee Ms Hayward and a part-time employee will be out of work.

Ms Hayward said the funding cuts were a surprise and came without warning.

“Katanning is not one of the easiest towns to live in. It’s very remote and there’s a high percentage of troubled indigenous families in town,” she said.

“I think they made the decision without looking at the whole program and what we do in Katanning.”

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