Northern Beaches councillors have tonight ‘undone’ a decision to gradually cut funding to three major local charities over the next three years, instead voting to retain existing support.
Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter, Community Northern Beaches, and Burdekin Association (Avalon Hub), were all facing a total reduction of their funding from council over the next three years to 75% and then to half the current amount. A new funding model would have then been opened to all charities and not guarantee funding for the three, and also be capped at $50k per year. This was voted on by a majority of councillors present at last month’s council meeting.
Community Northern Beaches currently receives double the proposed cap a year for its services to vulnerable people including rough sleepers, and it has made previously made representations to council for much more to meet the growing needs of the area.
Despite some initial resistance, ultimately the vote was unanimous to retain full existing funding for the next three years.
The successful motion was put forward by Cr Kristyn Granville and seconded by Cr Vincent De Luca. Several councillors, including Cr Stuart Sprott and Cr Candy Bingham spoke in strong support of the services. Most who resisted were not against supporting the services but rather felt the current arrangements disadvantaged other smaller charities that needed help.
But Shelter Manager Narelle Hand said last month’s decision was made without considering the impact the gap would have on social services.
“I don’t understand why council wants to take away from three proven and vital services to support several smaller ones. If the council wants to be a leader of social change, it could increase the social community services funding for more organisations without reducing ours,” she said of the decision.
But for now the issue is moot.
CEO of Community Northern Beaches Craig Stevens said having the councillors listen to the community, to the organisations, and to local media and retain funding had “restored my faith in the process.”
Ms Hand, alongside Chair Rosy Sullivan and a number of supporters present at the meeting, were visibly relieved by the retention of funding with the room erupting in cheers and applause when funding was retained.
The pair said they had been shocked by the last month’s vote to reduce funding over three years, particularly since neither were made aware it was coming to council. Council has since admitted this was a mistake.
After the decision Ms Hand said “I think it was the decision that should have been made in the first place and I am just so happy that when the councillors came together and were able to hear what the services do they were able to make a good, quality, informed decision.”
“This totally restores my faith in Northern Beaches Council.”
You can read the original article about cuts and the impact that would have had on services in our article here.
You can view the agenda for the meeting here: https://northernbeaches.infocouncil.biz/Open/2023/04/OC_18042023_AGN_2174_AT.PDF
You can view the minutes of the previous meeting (page 15) here: https://northernbeaches.infocouncil.biz/Open/2023/03/OC_28032023_MIN_2173.PDF