Member for Rockhampton Barry ORourke, Walali supporter Lesley Guy, Labor candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson and Member for Keppel and Assistant Education Minister Brittany Lauga.
Member for Rockhampton Barry ORourke, Walali supporter Lesley Guy, Labor candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson and Member for Keppel and Assistant Education Minister Brittany Lauga. Allan Reinikka ROK070618awalali2

Red Cross says centre closure won't affect support services

HUNDREDS of Rockhampton people are at risk after funding cuts forced the closure of a community centre helping the city's homeless and people with complex mental health issues, Labor MPs claim.

The Red Cross said support for those at-risk would continue through new services despite the closure of the Walali Neighbourhood Centre.

Funding for the Federal Government's Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) program ends on June 29.

Although this is the main service provided at Walali, the south Rockhampton centre has grown over almost a decade to include drop-in services for those living on the streets.

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga, Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke, and Capricornia Labor candidate Russell Robertson said the centre serviced up to 700 people monthly.

"This is a community service that is working, that's making a big difference to the lives of people in Rockhampton,” Ms Lauga said.

Mr O'Rourke said he saw first-hand the power of Walali's services in his previous role with the housing department.

"You aren't unwell all the time, but you need that support when you are unwell,” he said.

"This facility has been doing this for many years. We have to have services for our vulnerable people.”

However, Red Cross Queensland director Leisa Bourne said services provided to those in need would continue without Walali.

Ms Bourne said the PHaMs program was being incorporated into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

"I can say very clearly that no client in the PHaMs service will go unsupported,” she said.

"We are going to support them through whatever arrangements are right.”

Although the community support will no longer operate through the Walali building, Ms Bourne believes it will carry on through other Red Cross services including a centre at Acquatic Place.

Funding for PHaMs will reduce until the program ends in June 2019.

"We have taken the decision to close Walali,” she said.

"It certainly doesn't mean services will cease. It does mean they will look a little bit different.”

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry reiterated these sentiments, commending the work of volunteers and staff.

"Walali has been the nerve centre for so much good work over the years and it will be a shame to see this building no longer utilised,” she said.

"The shift of PHaMs funding to NDIS is not a 'cut' by any stretch of the word.”



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