Freo pulls pin on youth crisis accommodation service

Council is withdrawing from the provision of the youth crisis accommodation service (18-25 year olds) based in Quarry St. Essentially this is a state government service and the city is the contracted service provider. However council has been topping up the funding (just over $300K per year, nearly 50% of its income). The new service provider will not have this extra funding. Will they be able to provide the same level of service without cutting wages?

By no longer subsidising this service over $300K will be freed up for other council projects including other useful activities for youth. But there are some serious issues of policy at stake: the wages and conditions of staff, the level of service offered by the new operator and more.

So I was gob smacked to discover that council was going to withdraw from the service without any sort of formal decision making process whatsoever. At the July council meeting I moved a resolution requiring the proposal to be subject to the normal process of assessment, debate, public scrutiny and vote. However this was lost with only Councillors Wilson, Sullivan and I supporting it. Pretty incredible in my view, pulling out of a $600+k p.a. service that employs five people without council even voting on it! Below is the resolution I put to council:

Proposed Termination of council provision of Youth Accomodation Service

Background

The plan (already in motion) to not reapply for funding to provide the Department of Child Protection funded youth accommodation service (operating out of the council owned Quarry St premises) has been formed as if this were purely an administrative decision. But in reality it involves important questions of policy that need to be considered first.

Proposal

That Council suspends its moves to withdraw from the provision of the State Department of Child Protection funded youth accommodation service until such time as a resolution to council instructs officers to do so. Any proposal to withdraw from the provision of this service should be done in the framework of:

a) a comprehensive examination of other ways the City might use its resources to help young people within the framework of a new youth strategy, and;

b) an examination of the consequences of the City withdrawing from the provision of the service. This needs to include (but need not be limited to) the following issues:

1.What is the current demand for the service in general, and from among young people located within the City in particular?

2. What would be the impact for current and potential clients of the service who live in the City if it were no longer located in the City of Fremantle?

3. To the extent it is measurable, what is the gap between the resources of the service and the unmet demand?

4. What is the difference between the wages and conditions currently received by the staff of the service and what they might expect to receive (both award minimum and industry standard) when employed by a non-government provider?

5. Even if an alternative service provider is able to provide the service at a lower cost because of administrative efficiencies and/or lower rates of pay, it will be expected to provide the service with 48% less income than the City. The new service provider will also potentially have to pay commercial rent for its premises. Such a substantial cut in the service’s income necessarily means a reduction in service and support to its clients. How might this reduction in service be manifested?

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