Dark cloud hangs over Culunghutti’s future after cuts

CULLUNGHUTTI could face closure, according to centre manager Cindy Holmes.

With 50 per cent of the centre’s government funding cut, the Aboriginal child and family centre, which opened just seven months ago, might have to shut its doors.

More than 400 children and their families access the centre for services. It is run by up to 20 staff, which Ms Holmes said would now change.

“The lost income is going to have a tremendous effect on the quality of services we are able to offer and effectively means childcare fees will double,” she said.

“It will make it virtually impossible for some families to continue their child’s early education, which was one of the core reasons for this centre’s establishment.”

Ms Holmes said families seeking the services had low incomes.

“Cullunghutti was enabling those families to engage in services they have never been able to afford before,” she said.

“[Reduced funding] will mean that case support workers will be reduced to a minimum and a restriction on parenting programs and specialist programs.

“It’s important to note this in no way is a reflection on the Department of Family and Community Services, whose staff have gone to battle for us, trying to secure funding but hasn’t been able to.”

Ms Holmes said the cut was brought about when the federal government withdrew support from the Indigenous Early Childhood Development National Partnership Agreement as a Closing the Gap initiative. 

Ms Holmes said without the money she did not know what would happen.

“Everyone is so distraught about it,” she said.

“We’re so proud of what we have achieved so far in the community and we can see the difference this organisation has made already. It would be heartbreaking to see it have to close its doors from lack of funding.”

Margaret Seymour is heavily involved in Cullunghutti as a volunteer in the centre’s Stir It Up nutritional program and parenting group.

She said from the beginning she knew Cullunghutti would be a special part of the community. She described the amount of funding lost as “pathetic”.

“I’ve put together a ‘Save Cullunghutti’ Facebook page and started a petition, which already has 158 signatures,” she said.

“No one wants to see it shut down.

“So many of us have gained skills like with the Stir It Up program that we never would without the organisation.”

Ms Seymour said fighting for the organisation’s survival was her way of giving back to Cullunghutti and the community.

“This place is for the whole community and you feel that when you come here,” she said.

“Where will families go? There are other organisations out there but none like this.

“This place is really beneficial.

“It’s closing the gap.” 

DISAPPOINTED: Arthur Stewart, Margaret Seymour with her grandson Andrew Williams, Cindy Holmes and Kiaya Stewart-Crossley are concerned for the future of Cullunghutti services and the families who access them after 50 per cent of funding was cut.

DISAPPOINTED: Arthur Stewart, Margaret Seymour with her grandson Andrew Williams, Cindy Holmes and Kiaya Stewart-Crossley are concerned for the future of Cullunghutti services and the families who access them after 50 per cent of funding was cut.

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