As Wyndarra Centre’s Denese Ferguson points out, a crisis can’t be planned.
The Smith Street not-for-profit organisation will share in $3.3 million in emergency relief funding if the upcoming federal election is won by a majority Labor government.
Over four years, Wyndarra will receive $260,000. This is in the final year of emergency relief funding for the local service, with the fund to dry up at the end of the year and these services to be provided by national organisations.
“A crisis is now, not in two weeks’ time when you can plan for it or afford it,” says Denese, community service worker at Wyndarra.
“We always have people in need, we need to be able to react right away.”
Wyndarra provides financial support and loans to locals needing help to pay bills, buy groceries, put petrol in the tank or register their car.
This financial support is mostly needed to help locals out of a tight spot and often community members choose to back pay a loan once in a financial position to do so – allowing the fund to go even further.
Wyndarra workers and volunteers fear that if this support isn’t provided locally, residents will slip through the cracks.
“We don’t ask when we don’t need it but this is really important to our community,” says Denese.
“Without [funding] our community will lose because these services won’t be administered locally.”
Visiting Smithton on Friday, Federal Member for Braddon Justine Keay and New South Wales Senator Jenny McAllister, Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities, met with Wyndarra to make the commitment.
“The demand for emergency relief is growing right across the country,” says Senator McAllister.
“We know that organisations like Wyndarra make a little bit go a long way and that this money is going straight out the door into the pantries, fridges and petrol tanks of those who need it.”
More than 500 locals across Circular Head come to Wyndarra for this support every year, with demand increasing during the winter as residents look for wood to heat their homes and electricity bills rise.
“There’s a lot of love for this organisation and the work they do,” says Ms Keay.
“Unfortunately national bodies don’t have that on-the-ground knowledge to be able to support rural and regional communities as effectively.
“[This funding] will mean that Wyndarra can continue to support vulnerable people in Circular Head who have nowhere else to turn.”
A Labor government will provide $40 million to emergency relief funding nationwide. The $3.3 million Tasmanian package also includes $360,000 to The Salvation Army, $766,000 to St Vincent De Paul Society, $851,000 and $48,000 to Hobart and Launceston City Mission respectively, $160,000 to Launceston Benevolent Society, $63,000 to The Helping Hand Association and $30,000 to Youth and Family Community Connections. A further $457,000 and $328,000 will go to Uniting and Catholic Care to deliver services across Tasmania and Victoria.
Wyndarra Centre will receive $260,000 over four years to continue to provide emergency relief locally if Labor wins the next federal election. Chair of the board Ross Hine and community service worker Denese Ferguson, with Federal Member for Braddon Justine Keay and Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities Jenny McAllister, say this funding is vital to Circular Head. Picture: Ashleigh Force.