Distress at Streeties’ future

Dominique BayensGeraldton Guardian
Streetwork Corporation volunteers, Aborginal elder Graham Taylor, Gordy Clinch, Charmaine Green and Merrilyn Green are worried the service will close.
Camera IconStreetwork Corporation volunteers, Aborginal elder Graham Taylor, Gordy Clinch, Charmaine Green and Merrilyn Green are worried the service will close. Credit: Dominique Bayens

There was anger and distress among those who attended the Geraldton Aboriginal Streetwork Corporation community meeting last Thursday to discuss the potential closure of the organisation.

Residents raised concerns to the corporation’s board about the future of local Aboriginal youth if “Streeties” closed.

The organisation provides services for at-risk youth, including preventative programs and young offender programs. However, Streeties announced earlier this month it faced closure after new Aboriginal youth services investment reforms brought in by the State Government had forced it into a partnership with WA organisation Hope community services.

Streeties operations manager Merrilyn Green said the reforms and subsequent forming of partnerships had redesigned the way funding was distributed, making it difficult for the independent, standalone youth service to access.

“While the intent of the changes could be a positive step in some cases, it doesn’t look to the success of models already in place,” she said.

Former Geraldton resident Kia Johnson closed the meeting, speaking about the impact Streeties had had on her life.

“They were our cup of Milo on a cold night,” she said.

“We always had Streeties to go to.

“Streetworks were like our parents in the community.

“They were people that cared.”

Ms Johnson said Streeties was a crucial organisation for keeping Geraldton youth safe from the dangers of drugs, alcohol and domestic violence.

“I could run off so many (peo-ple) that I know of, my own family and friends in the community, that I’ve seen go downhill with drugs on all sorts of levels from the poorest to the richest,” she said.

“Their kids suffer, to not have an organisation like Streetwork, where the kids can’t come and find that shelter, that loving arm that sort of encourages them about employment, leadership, education, youth issues?

“Where’s the hope?

Merrilyn Green said negotiations between Hope community services and Streeties were ongoing and they hope to reach an agreement that will see Streeties continue to service the community in 2017.

Hope community services has been contacted for comment.

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