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Hutt Street Centre jobs on line after 'callous' funding cut

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UPDATED: The Hutt Street Centre and Catherine House are bracing for $2.4 million in budget cuts from July as part of the State Government’s homelessness reform.

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Homelessness organisations Hutt Street Centre and Catherine House are expected to lose $1.2 million each as part of an overhaul to the sector announced on Friday and to be introduced in July.

Hutt Street Centre CEO Chris Burns labelled the move a “very traumatic experience” for staff.

“It will have an impact on jobs, doubtless, but we can’t say what that impact is now until we have a full understanding of what the impact is going forward,” he told reporters this afternoon.

“It would have been nice to be able to negotiate and have those discussions in advance of public statements.

“At this stage I wouldn’t like to talk about jobs because I need to have those individual discussions with staff.”

He said while the centre would not be closing its doors and would continue to provide a range of services such as meals, it would no longer be able to fund its case management services program, previously supported by the State Government.

“The case management services that we have provided here have been onsite … so when a client comes through the door we give them the wellbeing service and then the case management can come straight over and progress them through housing,” Burns said.

“That service will not be provided here and we will have to refer clients to new other services in the new alliance.

“That will break down what we call the continuum of care, where if you have it integrated on the one site you provide the best possible continued care.

“Now is not the time to be creating this upheaval in the homelessness sector.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Catherine House said the organisation would lose its crisis accommodation for women and some outreach programs as a result of the changes.

She said Catherine House remained unclear about how the cuts would impact its staffing levels.

The government this morning announced its new direction to tackle homelessness.

Branded “Future Directions for Homelessness”, the new system is based on similar models used in the United Kingdom and went out to tender last year.

As part of the changes, homelessness organisations have been grouped into “alliances” – two in metropolitan Adelaide, two covering regional areas of the state and a separate alliance dedicated to family and domestic violence support.

Alliances have been bidding for government contracts on behalf of the organisations they represent, with each to be headed by a “lead agency” and a manager.

Lutheran Care was this morning announced as the lead for the new Adelaide South homelessness alliance – which also includes Baptist Care SA, the Salvation Army, Mission Australia, Sonder Care, Aboriginal Elders and Community Care Services, and Iwiri Aboriginal Community Corporation.

Hutt Street Centre was part of an unsuccessful alliance for the Adelaide South tender, but said it would work with Lutheran Care to discuss future case management services.

Vinnie’s Men’s Crisis Centre is also believed to have lost funding as a result of the changes.

InDaily understands some Hutt Street staff were this morning advised they could lose their jobs at the end of the financial year.

Shadow Minister for Human Services Nat Cook said the cuts would have far-reaching impacts on the state’s homeless sector.

“It’s going to have a massive impact on services,” she said.

“The services will now have to shift to these other providers who will not have been providing like-for-like service before.

“A place like the Hutt Street Centre would have had staff who’ve worked for them for many, many years and they have hundreds and hundreds of volunteers as well that are attached to them.

“They will be able to service some sort of delivery but all of their case management and ongoing services that provide really … long-term outcomes are going to have to go elsewhere.”

Cook questioned how the homelessness reform would improve services in the sector.

“Hutt Street outperforms their KPIs on pretty much every outcome and the only limit there is to their success is the limit there is on public housing,” she said.

“There’s no extra money going into the system – it’s being shifted around and going into other providers and it’s going to be devastating for those that haven’t been successful.

“With any tender process there’s winners and losers but can you believe Hutt Street has been a loser? It’s outrageous.”

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink touted the new system as providing “much better early intervention for people getting into homelessness. When people enter the system it will be seamless for them”.

“We know that in South Australia the homelessness process has been broken for some time, it’s been a disparate set of circumstances that people here experiencing homelessness very clearly told us wasn’t working for them,” she said.

“The overall quantity for homelessness services has remained.

“The tender that has won the bid will provide the best services going forward”

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