People Place funds protest

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
The People's Place hosts Radiance, a support group for mothers dealing with post-natal depression, anxiety or isolation.
Camera IconThe People's Place hosts Radiance, a support group for mothers dealing with post-natal depression, anxiety or isolation. Credit: Taelor Pelusey

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam has slammed the State Government’s handling of its Empowering Communities program as “disgraceful” in a grievance motion presented to Parliament this week.

Ms Mettam’s bone of contention is the Government’s rejection of The People Place’s application for funding in late December.

While the contract was extended by 18 months just hours after the rejection was revealed, Ms Mettam took aim at the overall process and reasoning.

“The way this process has been handled reeks of incompetence and it is nothing short of a disgrace that The People Place was put under this uncertainty just days before Christmas,” she said.

Ms Mettam said other South West facilities — two in Bunbury and one each in Manjimup and Northcliffe — would not support Busselton’s growing community.

She has also launched a petition, which has amassed some 700 signatures, and pleaded with Community Services Minister Simone McGurk to “not abandon the Busselton community”.

Ms McGurk said The People Place did not meet the tender criteria, along with organisations in other communities including Collie, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Karratha and Newman.

However, she said the department was concerned that while The People Place did not meet the criteria, “there was no other organisation in that town or location that was able to provide a service”.

“It was for that reason that we agreed to extend the current funding to give the department and those organisations time to get together and discuss whether what they were doing actually met the criteria,” Ms McGurk said.

“And, if it did, to make sure that that was reflected in another opportunity to bid; and if it did not, to work out how to make sure that the organisations did meet the tender criteria.”

The People Place supports more than 3000 people and has 40 regular user groups.

With funding not guaranteed beyond next year, its future is under a cloud.

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