Mid-Western Regional Council general manager Brad Cam, Community Services manager Fiona Turner, Barnardos acting program manager - Mudgee Programs Kate Cormie, Barnardos Western NSW senior manager Jodi Burnstein and Housing Plus CEO Karen Andrew.

Crisis accommodation placements in Mudgee will increase from one to four after Mid-Western Region Council increased its contribution by $60,000.

Council more than tripled its funding for crisis accommodation from $20,000 last year to $85,000 in the 2015/16 budget.

The funding allocation is part of a three way partnership between council, Barnardos and Housing Plus to provide crisis accommodation and transitional housing for women escaping domestic violence.

Under the supported housing arrangement Housing Plus provide the property and tenancy management while Barnardos provide support to accommodated residents.

Housing Plus CEO Karen Andrew said the amount will make a significant difference to people who may need emergency accommodation.

“We will go from providing one supported accommodation arrangement to providing up to four,” Ms Andrews said.

“What we’re also trying to do is in some way break the cycle of domestic violence and homelessness.

“Whilst people are accommodated they will receive the support they need to be able to transition to other longer term accommodation. So we don’t want to be putting people back out into the community without accommodation, so where possible we’ll be looking at finding pathways for them into either social housing or the private rental market.

“In some cases if somebody is not ready for that transition and they need a little more support to get them where they’ll be able to live independently, by agreement we will extend the period they are in transitional housing.”

Barnardos Western NSW senior manager Jodi Burnstein said at risk tenants were identified as part of the support services to avoid the need for emergency accommodation.

“Once someone is identified as having their tenancy at risk we try and get in before we get to crisis, so it’s not a band aid by any means,” Ms Burnstein said.

“It’s prevention but also if the crisis does happen there’s somewhere for people to go.”

Ms Andrew said rural and regional areas consistently compete for funding and centres like Mudgee can miss out due to demographics despite an identified need for accommodation and crisis support.

“We’re constantly competing with the cities and the coastal areas where we all know that housing is so expensive and difficult to get into but the same can be said for Mudgee too, it’s the lack of affordable housing and that’s going to be amplified by the mining industry,” Ms Andrew said.  

Mid-Western Regional Council general manager Brad Cam said the funding was not the answer but a start to solving the problem.

“We recognise that we’ve got significant growth coming in the future and that we’re going to have to find other ways of being able to help accommodate people in our community,” Mr Cam said.

“And certainly affordable housing is one of them and we need to work with the agencies to find some long term solutions for people as well.

At its August meeting council resolved to investigate the possibility of providing accommodation for homeless people in the Mid-Western Region.

(This article first appeared in the Mudgee Guardian on 2 September, 2015. Written by Elle Watson.)