Regional communities including Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun are breathing a sigh of relief after the state government reversed plans to slash funding to Community Resource Centres.
Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan announced on August 10, the government would continue to fund Community Resource Centres by $13 million per year, after previously pledging to reduce funding to $8 million.
The review into the resource centre network is still set to bring changes according to Minister MacTiernan.
The traineeship component is set to be ‘strengthened’ to ensure centres are working with businesses and local governments and will be made available to regional areas without resource centres.
Under the state’s reforms audits are also set to get tougher.
The minister said the government was forced to consider a number of budget savings to help fix the financial mess left by the Barnett government.
“After reviewing the Community Resource Centre program and listening to regional communities’ concerns about the future of CRCs, it is clear CRC funding should continue,” she said.
“We want to see the CRC program strengthened, with a real focus on getting the most out of the traineeship program to drive training opportunities across regional WA.”
Ravensthorpe CRC manager Gabrielle Major said the centre was thrilled to be able to maintain their levels of funding and to have their value understood and recognised by the state.
“It means I can look at offering more work to people in our community and keep all the courses, workshops and programs we offer which are so highly valued,” she said.
Ms Major said the Ravensthorpe centre was already embracing the trainee component of their contract.
“The uncertainty over the trainee funding in the last proposal was the area of gravest concern to us because our business model relies on that trainee,” she said.
Ms Major said she welcomed increased auditing of the network.
“It’s government money, we want to make sure CRCs are performing as well as they should be now and into the future,” she said.
Hopetoun Centre finance officer Donna Higgins said the team at the Hopetoun centre was grateful the government had listened to communities throughout WA.
“We are delighted that we can continue to serve our community here in Hopetoun,” she said.
Ms Higgins also welcomed the focus on the trainee program.
“There’s not many opportunities for young people seeking training in these small rural communities,” she said.
Roe MLA Peter Rundle welcomed the reversal and congratulated the minister for making the decision.
“The Nationals have put on a lot of pressure in parliament and outside parliament because we understand the importance of CRCs to our smaller regional communities,” he said.
“When I look locally at Hopetoun and Ravensthorpe they are both really important to their communities.”
Mr Rundle said the government had “come in with all guns blazing” and said the state could improve their process.
“You need to consult first and find out if there are areas that could be cut back, if you need to make cut backs without as much impact,” he said.
“At the moment, the current government is ‘cutting first, consulting later’ and it’s got to be the other way around.”
Mr Rundle also congratulated communities, CRC staff and other organisations who understand how important their centres were to and for finding a public voice.
“I congratulate those people for standing up for their communities,” he said.