Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:54): Women’s homelessness services in the electorate of Grayndler are at great risk. The state government’s Going Home Staying Home initiative has changed the tendering for these services. The New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services has released only one tender package for the entire inner city of Sydney to cater to women-only services. These services help more than 2,000 women every year. However, the combination of reduced funding and the release of only one tender package will mean only 505 women and their children will be able to be assisted. The new tender process, apart from reducing funding by $6 million, aims to provide services to men and women in the same facilities. It is vital that women and children escaping domestic violence are assisted in an environment of trust, and the establishment of the necessary trust is impossible in mixed gender environments. There are presently a number of services that can assist women in my electorate of Grayndler, but the changes proposed by the state government will have a huge impact on the ability of these services to continue.
This year is the 40th anniversary of the Leichhardt Women’s Community Health Centre. In the last 40 years not one of the local centres providing specialist services to women has had its funding threatened by governments of either persuasion. As things stand, many of these services will have to start closing their doors as soon as June. I urge the state government to reconsider the tender process that is underway in inner Sydney. It is causing great distress. Just over the weekend I was contacted by people from Blackwattle Bay Secondary School—it is part of Sydney Secondary College—about the threat to funding for the Lillian Powell project. This is causing a great deal of angst and it should be something that is not a party-political issue.
Secondly, in my electorate there are a number of organisations that run Youth Connections programs. Youth Connections helps young people who have not completed or are at risk of not completing year 12 or equivalent qualifications and have barriers that make it difficult to participate in education, training or employment. I have seen firsthand Rosemount, in Marrickville, which is run by the Catholic Church. It provides a fantastic service, taking young people and giving them opportunities. As it stands at the moment, young women who are in year 10 will not be able to go to year 11 and year 12 next year as a result of these funding cuts. Youth Connections provides an alternative education program for young people who are or have been at risk of being alienated from not just education but society as a whole. This is a program that must receive funding. I call upon the government to reconsider these mean-spirited cuts to this essential service.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.