Once again the case for ‘place-based aggregation of public funds’ which could allow communities to prioritise funding according to local needs bears thinking about. The successful YouthBiz program in Hamilton, western Victoria, has existed on a funding knife edge over the past few years. Established in 1997 it deals with concerns facing young people aged 12-25 and is the only funded youth program in the region. It has in excess of 2500 contacts per year, offering support, drug and alcohol counselling, family planning, study and jobskills programs, housing and accommodation assistance and access to health information.
The $60,000 YouthBiz funding, subsidised by Western District Health Service (WDHS), has provided a youth worker position which has been a feeder for other programs and spin offs from YouthBiz have attracted their own funding (the 10MMM project, Freeza events and Hip Hop Happenings).
The Glenelg and Southern Grampians Primary Care Partnership recommended recurrent funding but it appears the Department of Human Services, in a 2004 funding review, redirected the $60,000 to ‘other areas’. If WDHS redirects funds internally, as DHS recommended, asthma, diabetes, incontinence or women’s health programs would suffer.
Some points of view to consider on this all too common problem:
(1)The Member for Western Province, David Koch, is quoted recently by the Hamilton Spectator saying the Government must listen to youth and be prepared to respond…instead of churning out rhetoric and false hope.
(2)Back in 1997 a Griffith University study, in conjunction with the Department of Primary Industries, devised a ‘One-Stop-Shop model of a local community network that allowed communities to:
“prepare a four year plan for their area in partnership with other communities in established local community networks. Planning is sophisticated and assisted by Departmental appointed facilitators. This planning would be done in cooperation with relevant bodies”.
(3) Peter Ryan, before he became Leader of the Victorian National Party, is quoted in Dr Helen Sheil’s ‘Building Rural Futures through Cooperation. The Need, the Dream, the Reality’ saying:
“I have discerned that there exists in country regions a community spirit that is fundamental to the structure of our society….a capacity to give and to be involved as part of life in country Victoria. It is the desire of people to take charge of their own destinies”.