Bunbury's In Town Centre in danger of closing two days a week

In Town Centre chairperson David Bailey said the government were not providing the homelessness organisation with enough support to keep operating.
In Town Centre chairperson David Bailey said the government were not providing the homelessness organisation with enough support to keep operating.

"How can a rich government say they do not have the money to support the most vulnerable people in our society?"

That is the question being asked by David Bailey, chair of Bunbury's In-Town Centre which provides food and a referral service to the homeless.

Mr Bailey told the Mail the state government had barely increased funding - other than annual CPI - to the non-profit organisation since it began 10 years ago.

The centre currently employs one full-time and one part-time staff member and the rest of the work is done by volunteers to keep the centre operating five days a week.

Mr Bailey said to keep doing what they did they would need an extra $30,000 per year and at the moment it looked like the centre would be able to open just three days a week.

He said what they received was well short of what was required and the "battle" had been continuing for years.

Department of Communities chief financial officer Michael Crevola told the Mail it provided the centre with $108,868 in 2020-21.

This compared to $79,869 in 2011-12, he said.

"It is not correct to say that funding to In Town Centre for the Shoe String Café has not increased," he said.

"The increase in funding has been primarily a result of indexation and additional payment to supplement cost increases arising from Social and Community Service Equal Remuneration Order."

Mr Bailey said he was frustrated that the centre received no extra money in the last election, compared to things like the Speedway which received over $700,000.

Bunbury MP Don Punch said the government provided $2.5 million every year to organisations in Bunbury that help support the homeless, which included the In Town Centre.

Mr Crevola said the department was trialling homelessness services in the South West for a potential transition to a new way of servicing the homeless.

"The Department of Communities is committed to ensuring that organisations within the South West are supported through the trial and will work with service providers in the region to determine what financial or in-kind support is required to enable them to participate fully in the design process," he said.

"In recent discussions regarding the Shoe String Café, Communities has reinforced an intent to work with In Town Centre to identify the optimum outcomes for people experiencing homelessness in Bunbury and surrounding areas with the current available funding."

Mr Crevola said it had informed the centre that it would receive funding until June 30, 2024.