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Don't disadvantage small WA community centres with funding criteria they cannot meet

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Community Service funding contracts in Western Australia are up for renewal in 2018 and the state government has just released  a new procurement policy designed to make it all but impossible for grassroots organisations to survive.

Contracts for service will in future no longer be awarded to Preferred Providers- a process that rewarded small, local and community with a proven record of excellence and achievement of key performance indicators. They still needed to apply against a clear service agreement contract but did not have to compete against large NGOs in an Open Tender process.

This protection is now gone and the new deal favours large organisations delivering services state- and nationwide. The process was begun in 2012 by the Barnett government and a switch to Labor had been the only hope for the 150+ Neighborhood House and Community Resource Centres in regional and remote communities in WA.

After Labor had won the the state election in March, the sector felt relieved as the new Premier, Mark McGowan, had assured me (see below) an others his party understands the social capital and value small NGOs contributed. He understood the factors local knowledge and sense of ownership, so we believed all was well when Labor had its landslide victory...

Sadly, the message seems to have been lost in translation, Mr Premier, which prompts me to write this letter:

Open letter to the Honourable Mark McGowan, Premier of Western Australia

Dear Sir, I expected to attend a briefing in Perth yesterday, designed to inform our sector on the impending call for tenders for funding of community services.
Unfortunately I was not able to attend as I am still in hospital after an emergency cardiac procedure at Sir Charles Gairdiner hospital, last Friday.
This was the second of two such briefings, and the first, on 2 June, had raised anxieties in the WA neighbourhood houses industrky to new heights.
Dr Nicky Howe, Chair at Linkwest, has summarised the concerns in the small non-government services sector in an open letter to you since, and I won't waste your time - or my compromised strength- by quoting at length but I will attach it for reference.
Reading the meeting brief, I was surprised the Department of Community Services (formerly DLGC) proposes to implement the entire gamut of new procurement criteria developed by the Barnett administration. Not only will it go to Open Tender but a whole raft of other measures are retained that all favour large NGOs over small, community and place based centres.
As said above I won't repeat the points made in Dr Howe's letter, please refer to her excellent list and argumentation.
Also you may remember I raised many of the concerns in the small NGO sector during a chat on ABC Bunbury you and I had two days before the election.
You at the time reassured me Labor was well aware of the value we small services contributed, especially in rural and remote communities. Therefore Labor would not implement policies that slanted the playing field to advantage the big players.
I hope the department just "didn't get your memo" and you will step in and safe our sector forthwith.
I would probably be overdrawing the bow, saying this development literally broke my heart; however, the stress, anxiety and frustration I experienced since your predecessor began in 2012 to deconstruct our industry arguably contributed.
Mr Barnett and I had a similar conversation back then and I hope your statement in March 2016 turns out straightforward and trustworthy.
I had an extremely close call on Friday and don't need further disappointment and aggravation.

With respect and sincerity,

Andre Foulon
Coordinator
Manjimup Family Centre
Currently at Warren District Hospital
0448 650 687
mjpfc@westnet.com.au

2016 WA Regional Achievement Awards, Lifetime Community Services Award

2016 Connecting Up Australian Not For Profits Technology Lifetime Services Award

2015 WA CAST Award for Innovation in Parenting Education Programs

2010 WA Youth Award Finalist, Best Youth Worker of Any Age

2009 WA Adult Learners Award - Outstanding Partnerships with Shire of Manjimup

2008 WA Adult Learners Award - Best Community Education Provider

2008 WA Cutting Edge Award for Use of New Technology

1998 Australian Prevention of Violence Award - Honorable Mention
Open letter to the Honourable Mark McGowan, Premier of Western Australia

Dear Sir, I expected to attend a briefing in Perth yesterday, designed to inform our sector on the impending call for tenders for funding of community services.
Unfortunately I was not able to attend as I am still in hospital after an emergency cardiac procedure at Sir Charles Gairdiner hospital, last Friday.
This was the second of two such briefings, and the first, on 2 June, had raised anxieties in the WA neighbourhood houses industry to new heights.
Dr Nicky Howe, Chair at Linkwest, has summarised the concerns in the small non-government services sector in an open letter to you since, and I won't waste your time - or my compromised strength- by quoting at length but I will attach it for reference.
Reading the meeting brief, I was surprised the Department of Community Services (formerly DLGC) proposes to implement the entire gamut of new procurement criteria developed by the Barnett administration. Not only will it go to Open Tender but a whole raft of other measures are retained that all favour large NGOs over small, community and place based centres.
As said above I won't repeat the points made in Dr Howe's letter, please refer to her excellent list and argumentation.
Also you may remember I raised many of the concerns in the small NGO sector during a chat on ABC Bunbury you and I had two days before the election.
You at the time reassured me Labor was well aware of the value we small services contributed, especially in rural and remote communities. Therefore Labor would not implement policies that slanted the playing field to advantage the big players.
I hope the department just "didn't get your memo" and you will step in and safe our sector forthwith.
I would probably be overdrawing the bow, saying this development literally broke my heart; however, the stress, anxiety and frustration I experienced since your predecessor began in 2012 to deconstruct our industry arguably contributed.
Mr Barnett and I had a similar conversation back then and I hope your statement in March 2016 turns out straightforward and trustworthy.
I had an extremely close call on Friday and don't need further disappointment and aggravation.

With respect and sincerity,

Andre Foulon
Coordinator
Manjimup Family Centre
Currently at Warren District Hospital
0448 650 687
mjpfc@westnet.com.au

2016 WA Regional Achievement Awards, Lifetime Community Services Award

2016 Connecting Up Australian Not For Profits Technology Lifetime Services Award

2015 WA CAST Award for Innovation in Parenting Education Programs

2010 WA Youth Award Finalist, Best Youth Worker of Any Age

2009 WA Adult Learners Award - Outstanding Partnerships with Shire of Manjimup

2008 WA Adult Learners Award - Best Community Education Provider

2008 WA Cutting Edge Award for Use of New Technology

1998 Australian Prevention of Violence Award - Honorable Mention

ENDS



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