Corporation raises service-gap concerns

Saskia AdystiGreat Southern Herald

The Southern Aboriginal Corporation has raised concerns over the distances some Aboriginal families will have to travel to access vital support services in Katanning and Albany.

SAC chief executive Asha Bhat said she welcomed over $730,000 in Federal funding for the organisation to run intensive family management for 20 families in the region over the next two years.

However, Ms Bhat expressed concern about the possibility of a service gap because the funding was specifically directed at the Katanning and Albany indigenous communities.

“The service gap could cause some issues because there are families in Kojonup or Gnowangerup that would need to travel all the way to Katanning or Albany to receive these services,” she said.

SAC provides services to the Great Southern indigenous community in Katanning, Albany, Mt Barker, Gnowangerup, Tambellup and Kojonup.

Ms Bhat said the corporation would assess each family based on the complexity of the case.

Families suffering with multiple issues such as homelessness, family violence, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, would be considered for the program. Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said SAC would receive funding until June 30, 2019.

However, Ms. Bhat said the funding would be reviewed mid next year based on the outcomes of the services.

“This is like a pilot program and if it is successful then they might consider providing similar services in other towns,” Ms Bhat said. “I certainly would like services to be established in all outreach towns, I wouldn’t like to see a gap in our service.”

The SAC will also involve the local police and housing department in order to review the impact of their services within the community.

The final year of funding will also be dependent on the overall result of the project.

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