THE distress on the faces of the women who got the bad news about their long-running homelessness services on Friday was heartbreaking – and entirely understandable.
Both services had been run locally for 30 years and now face being operated by remote agencies in Wollongong. Not only is that likely to impact on the very vulnerable clients they have helped over three decades but the future of the workers is now in doubt.
The manner in which the Going Home Staying Home reform package has been conducted has been the subject of intense criticism, with claims it lacked proper consultation and failed to engage with the people it was most likely to affect.
The most glaring result of the reform, however, will be the loss of local experience and knowledge that has gone with the homelessness territory for so long. It is hard to see how an agency headquartered in Wollongong will be able to fully appreciate the array of homelessness issues here in the Shoalhaven.
It is much easier to address a problem if you are familiar with its local context.
The devastating news could not have come at a worse time. With the federal budget poised like the sword of Damocles to strike at young welfare recipients, the issue of local homelessness is set to become a lot more intense.
The loss of these local tenders will make it all the more difficult to address. It appears to be a decision based very much on money with little concern for heart.