Wallsend's Warlga Ngurra Women and Children's Refuge in limbo

CONCERNED: Warlga Ngurra Women’s and Children’s Refuge staff members Liann Taffe, Delece Manton, Annissa Hooper and Temeka Beetson.

CONCERNED: Warlga Ngurra Women’s and Children’s Refuge staff members Liann Taffe, Delece Manton, Annissa Hooper and Temeka Beetson.

STAFF at Wallsend's Warlga Ngurra Women and Children's Refuge say changes to the state's homelessness funding have left their centre's future in limbo.

Last month the state government announced a three-year funding package for homelessness called Going Home Staying Home, valued at $515 million.

The government says it is increasing funding for specialist homelessness services by 9.6 per cent from $135 million a year to almost $148 million a year in 2014-15.

It also says it is increasing the supply of transitional and crisis accommodation for women and young people, including $70 million for new initiatives.

But under the Going Home Staying Home program, 336 individual services have been consolidated into 149 packages operated by 69 non-government organisations.

Warlga Ngurra Women and Children's Refuge is one of nine specialist homeless services in the Hunter on the chopping block.

The NSW Department of Community Services has guaranteed the refuge will continue to receive funding until October but wants to consolidate services by December.

Under the new arrangements, tenders for funding will only be issued to "lead providers", which have prequalified on the Specialist Homelessness Services scheme.

Smaller organisations like Wallsend's Warlga refuge, which specialises in Aboriginal women and children's services, will be absorbed by a generalist provider, such as CatholicCare, St Vincent de Paul, Mission Australia, the Salvation Army or Wesley Mission.

Warlga Ngurra Women and Children's Refuge manager Delece Manton said the new arrangements would not fly with her clients, most of whom are seeking refuge from domestic violence.

For the past 25 years, the refuge has been a safe haven for women and children.

Many know about the centre from word-of mouth, some travel from as far as northern Queensland and South Australia to escape the violence in their homes and communities.

In the last financial year, the refuge has housed 67 women and 76 children but had to turn away 365 women and children.

"A lot of our clients go through hell to get here; their kids have been through so much trauma. We see broken arms, broken legs, messed up faces," she said.

"Some of our mob won't go to non-indigenous services or even go to the doctor without one of us by their side."

Miss Manton said she was worried about what would happen to the centre and its clients if it was taken over by a non-indigenous organisation.

The refuge will make a joint tender application with the larger organisation Wandiyali, in the hope it can continue to function as it does now.

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