Nelson Bay's emergency housing and counselling service provider needs vital funding

WORRIED: Kate Washington with Terry Wall and Leah Anderson at the Yacaaba Centre. Picture: Stephen Wark
WORRIED: Kate Washington with Terry Wall and Leah Anderson at the Yacaaba Centre. Picture: Stephen Wark

THE Port community is rallying behind the Yacaaba Centre, Nelson Bay's only emergency housing and counselling service provider, as it fights to exist beyond its use-by date - January 31, 2016.

The centre lost its funding in 2014 and its assets were handed over to the successful tenderer, Raymond Terrace Neighbourhood Centre.

As a result of community outrage, however, the centre - forced to move to 29 Donald Street, Nelson Bay - was granted a funding package in August for an additional 18 months.

Support for the centre has come from Port Stephens ALP, the Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association (TRRA), Nelson Bay Baptist Church, Port Stephens Women in Business and Port Stephens Council.

Kate Washington, Labor's candidate for the March 28 election, said that unless other sources of funding could be identified, the service will cease to operate in less than 12 months.

"Staff are endeavouring to find other sources of funding to enable them to continue operating because they are all too aware of the need in the community for the services they deliver," Ms Washington said. "Up until recently, they had pinned their hopes on federal funding, but have now been informed that no funds are available. This was a kick in the guts that they did not need."

TRRA president Terry Wall said it was ridiculous to expect the most vulnerable people in our society to have to travel to Raymond Terrace for support.

"Taking money from this centre is an abomination, they are picking on the wrong end of society."

Leah Anderson, president of Women in Business, said her group was hoping to raise in the vicinity of $8000 at this year's women's day fund-raiser in March. All proceeds will go the Yacaaba Centre.

In November Port Stephens Council voted to support the centre's bid for additional NSW government funding of $375,000 until June 2017 and to write to the Minister for Family and Community Services, Gabrielle Upton, asking her to recognise its role as an essential Port Stephens service.