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Cuts to Hutt St Centre and Catherine House

5 May 2021

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: The matter I rise to speak on this afternoon is one of real importance to South Australians who care about the most vulnerable in our community, that is, the decision to cut funding for the Hutt St Centre and Catherine House. I am deeply concerned about the implications of these cuts. I acknowledge the minister's comments earlier and the statement that they have made regarding the shifting of money, but the reality is that this is a reduction in funding for the Hutt St Centre and for Catherine House, both of which are vital services in our community.

When one considers the Hutt St Centre, I know that there are many people in our community who rely on that service and have been using it for years. Quite frankly, another service provider will struggle to offer that same level of service because they do not necessarily have the same relationships with the people involved in the community, and that is my concern with this cut.

Let us consider the implications of this. What has been proposed is a $2.4 million cut from both the Hutt St Centre and Catherine House, so that is $1.2 million each, and that could result in the loss of 31 jobs; that is, 31 jobs in sectors that are vital, that are supporting the most vulnerable people in our community in the middle of the worst economic crisis in a generation and in the middle of a one-in-100-year pandemic.

The Hutt St Centre could lose 12 staff and Catherine House, South Australia's only specialist homelessness service for women, could lose up to 19 jobs, so 31 jobs are at risk at this time. If we consider the impact that the Hutt St Centre and Catherine House have, it is very clear that this has a significant implication for vulnerable people in our state.

The Hutt St Centre serves up to 40,000 meals and offers social work and support services to nearly 2,000 people. The facilities they offer include showers, laundry facilities, visiting health professionals, an aged-care living program for their older clients and recreational activities. We know that 200 people experience homelessness each day in our state.

Catherine House is South Australia's only homelessness and recovery service for women exclusively, and 59 women are provided with safe and secure accommodation every night of the year. Again, 55,936 meals and snacks were provided during the year, and 480 essential personal product packs were provided to clients. This is an important service, and it is not one that we can afford to lose.

I also acknowledge that this has been a really challenging 12 months for the Hutt St Centre in particular. Last year, they were subject to a pointless review, led by the failed Team Adelaide faction in Town Hall, in particular by Alex Hyde, who is a staffer to Nicolle Flint. That review created a huge amount of discomfort for the Hutt St Centre, a lot of uncertainty for them during this time of crisis, and I am very disappointed that they are now being subject to more uncertainty in the middle of this crisis.

I urge the government to reconsider, to go back to the drawing board and to look at what can be done to ensure that the Hutt St Centre and Catherine House are guaranteed their funding in the future so that they do not have to lay off staff and so that they do not have to cut the vital services that we know so many South Australians rely on.