A drop-in centre for the homeless and disadvantaged on Fletcher Street, Byron Bay, is set to close at the end of the month after the Salvation Army has withdrawn its operational support.
The closure was announced in a letter dated March 5 by Salvation Army’s north New South Wales division commander, major Earle T Ivers.
It has been confirmed by Byron Bay street level mission leader Myf Evans, who said that changes to government funding models was the main reason for the surprise change.
‘This is very soon and I know a lot of people will be shocked and worried by this news, but the timing is to be in alignment with the roll-out of the new DSS funding and The Salvation Army’s Doorways Casework/ER Program,’ Ms Evans said.
Major Ivers wrote that ‘extensive consideration’ had been given to ‘the shape of Salvation Army services within the Byron Bay community.’
‘In this, a comprehensive analysis was conducted in order to provide an objective assessment of our current operation and to assist us in establishing the future direction our work.’
There were ‘a wide range of contributing factors, including… financial sustainability, property and personnel issues,’ the major wrote.
He added it was ‘with regret’ that that The Salvation Army would not be able to continue operating The Cottage beyond the end of March.
‘However, it should be noted that The Salvation Army will continue to provide service to those in need within the Byron Bay community in the provision of Emergency Relief through the new Salvos Connection Point to be operated from our existing service in Banksia Drive, Byron Bay,’ the letter continued.
‘Persons needing assistance will be assessed by qualified telephone counsellors prior to referral to the Salvos Connection Point or other more suitable agency with the hope of providing the most appropriate support in responding to their need. It is planned that addition support via a qualified ”Doorways” case- worker (part-time) will also be provided in the coming months.
‘Day to day oversight of the work of The Salvation Army in Byron Bay will be provided by commissioned Salvation Army officers stationed in Ballina,’ the major confirmed.
Ms Evans concluded that it had been ‘a very difficult decision for The Salvation Army and we realise it is going to be a difficult time of transition.’