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More rely on Vinnies volunteers

Monday, 13th May, 2013

The Vinnies volunteer crew can still manage a smile despite being faced with more and more needy residents each day. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt The Vinnies volunteer crew can still manage a smile despite being faced with more and more needy residents each day. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt

It may be National Volunteer Week, however for the volunteers at St Vincent de Paul, it is a week like any other.
The Argent Street centre has about 64 volunteers working to help the ever-growing list of needy locals.
Vinnies’ Regional Manager, Pam Sky, said the centre had seen a recent spike in residents requesting help to make ends meet.
“We’ve been very, very busy, we’ve had so many new clients it’s been unreal. You wonder where it will all end.
“People just don’t have enough money, rent is just going up and up - rent and food seem to be the main things. They just can’t survive fortnight to fortnight.”
The St Vincent de Paul Society’s 30,000 members and volunteers work hard to help people in need and combat social injustice across Australia.
Internationally, the society operates in 130 countries and has over 950,000 members.
The Broken Hill Vinnies Centre volunteers are assigned various tasks, including the collecting and sorting of preloved donations, working at the shopfront and many other tasks.
The organisation also has a number of ‘Conference Members’ who interview clients and decide on the most effective method of support.
People who are being assisted by conference members are often provided with food, clothing and household items as well as assistance with bills.
Conference members also visit hospitals, homes and other premises to provide friendship and support to the sick and/or lonely.
The Vinnies Centre in Broken Hill is also a valuable resource for people on low incomes, enabling them to buy quality clothing and other household items at an affordable price.
Centre customers also include people looking for fashionable items and all bargain hunters looking to make their dollar go a little further.
The profit from the sale of stock from the Vinnies Centre is used to provide the resources and support to people in need.
The Broken Hill Vinnies volunteers are always looking for more volunteers to assist them in this work. Even just a couple of hours a week is a great help.
They point out that volunteering is a mutually beneficial experience and there is a special sense of satisfaction you get from helping others and learning new skills.
If you are interested in volunteering please call 08 8087 5813 or visit the Vinnies website www.vinnies.org.au  .

Adams in front

Monday, 13th May, 2013

Christine Adams has so far polled the most votes after Saturday’s City Council by-election, while Robin Sellick is a close second. Counting resumes today and the final winner could be decided on preferences. Christine Adams has so far polled the most votes after Saturday’s City Council by-election, while Robin Sellick is a close second. Counting resumes today and the final winner could be decided on preferences.

By Erica Visser

Former councillor Christine Adams is likely to win Saturday’s City Council by-election.
Six candidates ran in the election which offered just one councillor position.
It was called earlier this year after businessman John Groenendijk resigned due to ill health.
The first preference votes were counted on Saturday night, however the final result was not expected to be known until today or tomorrow.
Mrs Adams, a former councillor, had almost 24 per cent of the votes that had been counted by yesterday.
Robin Sellick was just 150 votes behind, with a figure of more than 22 per cent.
However, Mrs Adams is the second preference for the Labor team and is expected to gain many more votes on preferencing.
Labor’s Geoff Cullenward was coming in third yesterday with over 17 per cent of the counted votes.
Fourth was Tom Kennedy, with just over 13 per cent, followed by Anne Woods with 12.44 per cent.
Remaining candidate Trevor Cutjar had secured only 11 per cent of votes so far.
Mrs Adams said yesterday that she was “hopeful” about the results, but believed it was too premature to assume victory.
“I’m hopeful but I’m waiting for a definite result before I’ll comment,” she said.
Mrs Adams was a city councillor until September last year when she ran on Mr Groenendijk’s ticket but was unsuccessful.
Since then she has maintained her interest in Council, attending each of its monthly meetings as a member of the public.
Mr Sellick said yesterday that he was happy with the result regardless.
“I’m delighted that on Saturday more people voted for change than any other option,” he said.
“It’s a great sign for our future that change, which is always a contentious issue, is something that people of Broken Hill are eager to see.”

Legal Centre wins federal funding

Saturday, 11th May, 2013

Far West Community Legal Centre CEO Tracey Willow (left) and Principal Solicitor Mariette Curcuruto were thrilled yesterday at the news that the Federal Government had come to the rescue of the long-strugging firm. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt Far West Community Legal Centre CEO Tracey Willow (left) and Principal Solicitor Mariette Curcuruto were thrilled yesterday at the news that the Federal Government had come to the rescue of the long-strugging firm. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt

By Erica Visser

After a long battle and forced cutbacks, the Far West Community Legal Centre has been given $215,000 by the Federal Government.
The service had already received $258,000 funding annually, however money has been tight since January last year and the Centre was forced to make cuts.
It is no longer open on Fridays and CEO Tracey Willow and Principal solicitor, Mariette Curcuruto, took a voluntary pay cut, in response to dire financial circumstances.
Ms Curcuruto said that it was important that the service stayed open as it helped the community’s most disadvantaged people who often could not afford to see a private solicitor.
According to Ms Curcuruto, the team had been lobbying for more money since August last year.
The campaign gained publicity and support and a series of fundraisers made around $17,000 for the centre, which was enough to “top it up.”
CEO Tracey Willow said she was “absolutely ecstatic” upon hearing news of the once-off funding injection yesterday.
“The board and all the staff have been told and everyone is very grateful and excited,” she said.
The centre will now reopen on Fridays and Ms Willow and Ms Curcuruto will receive their full salaries from July 1.
Ms Curcuruto said that the money would keep the service afloat for the next 18 months and help fund visits to areas which had seen reduced services of up to 75 per cent.   
These include Wilcannia, Menindee and the Broken Hill Correctional Centre.
But while the centre is thrilled about the boost, Ms Curcuruto said that its annual funding was not enough to service such a large area and for such extensive work.
“In a slow year, we do about 700 advisory sessions and have about 190 to 200 ongoing files.”
She said that it would struggle if more funding was not provided after 18 months.
Ms Curcuruto said the NSW Government has made no financial contribution.
The Legal Centre’s President, Linda Nadge, agreed and said that the government needed to realise the cost of providing such an extensive service.
“Today’s announcement is a positive outcome but there is still much more work to be done to ensure continuity and certainty of the services in the future,” Ms Nadge said.
“We sincerely thank the Minister and the Senator for the allocation. However, we must remind all governments we have lobbied during the last year that more than a ‘one off funding injection’ is needed.
“The board and staff look forward to gaining an understanding in the very near future about how ongoing funding certainty can be achieved.
“This will enable properly planned continuity of services and the ongoing full dedication of all staff.”
All three women thanked the public, the Federal and State local MPs and the Federal Government for their support.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC said that he was pleased to provide the funding to support the disadvantaged.
“Australians are entitled to a fair go under the law and organisations like the Far West Community Legal Centre are essential to providing that access to justice,” he said.

Changing the law

Saturday, 11th May, 2013

By Andrew Robertson

Judges and magistrates may be forced to take aboriginality into consideration when sentencing if a local man’s High Court appeal is successful.
The Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT (ALS) was yesterday granted special leave by the full bench of the High Court to have the relevance of aboriginality to sentencing clarified.
The application was lodged on behalf of Wilcannia man, William Bugmy, who was last year sentenced to four-and-a-half years’ jail for assaulting three prison officers in Broken Hill in 2011.
His sentence was increased by a further one-and-a-half years after the Crown appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeal.
The ALS said Mr Bugmy had spent most of his adolescence and adult life in prison.
The ALS application asked the High Court to clarify the application of the Fernando principles, named after a 1992 rape and murder case in which the Supreme Court of NSW said aboriginality should be taken into account in sentencing.
Principal Legal Officer with the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT Ltd (Western Zone) Stephen Lawrence said the Fernando line of case law - which is to be examined in the appeal - was regularly cited in courts across Australia.
“Any interpretation of the Fernando precedent is therefore capable of effecting many cases,” Mr Lawrence said.
The ALS said it welcomed the High Court’s recognition of “the potential significance of the matters” advanced on behalf of Mr Bugmy.
His legal team is now concentrating on preparation for the full hearing of the matter.
Mr Bugmy was serving time in the Broken Hill jail when he assaulted three prison officers in January 2011.
One of the officers suffered severe fractures after Mr Bugmy threw an 8-ball that struck the 42-year-old man in the face.

Hospital to thank many volunteers

Saturday, 11th May, 2013

The contribution volunteers make to the health service and their community will be recognised by the Far West Local Health District during National Volunteer Week next week.
The theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week is Thanks A Million.
To celebrate this theme, every volunteer for the health district will be presented with a commemorative ‘Thanks A Million’ lapel pin.
“We want to show our appreciation and express thanks to all our volunteers, for the vital role they play in assisting to provide a better level of care to our patients,” said Chief Executive of the health district, Stuart Riley.

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