South Hedland’s Mingle Mob youth outreach program will shut down unless it receives urgently needed funding.
Under the program, run since 2005, Youth Involvement Council workers patrol the streets of Hedland at night, picking up young people who are believed to be putting themselves or the community at risk, taking them somewhere safe for the night.
However council manager Vicki-Tree Stephens said it had been forced to cancel night shifts over the past fortnight because of a lack of funding.
“The program has been surviving purely off donations for three or four years now, and we’ve been forced to drain a lot of our other programs of funding just to keep this going,” she said.
“We’ve been restricted for a couple of years now, with a couple of staff working limited hours a couple of nights a week.”
Ms Stephens said the council would ideally like four or more full-time, trained staff to patrol streets five or six nights a week, until the late hours.
“At the moment we’re just managing to keep a finger on the pulse, we can barely make a dent in South Hedland’s problems with the resources we have,” she said.
“As it is now, we will be forced to cancel the program unless we can get more funding.”
Mingle Mob co-ordinator Julie Trowbridge said the aim of the program was to have no more young people on the streets of Hedland after dark.
“We engage with the kids, and try to make sure they aren’t getting caught up in the wrong crowd and aren’t doing the wrong thing,” she said.
“We can advocate for them, put them in touch with agencies that can help them out, and help them get involved in other sports and education programs.”
Consultant Miranda Bowman, who was brought in to help the council solve its funding crisis, said the program needed about $500,000 recurrent funding a year to function with effectiveness.
“This town is rapidly growing, but what about essential community services like this that need to try and keep up,” she said.
“At the moment we have no staff, a vehicle which requires constant repairs and no money to do anything about it … we need help or we will close.
Ms Bowman said donations were tax deductible.
Ms Trowbridge said it was vital for the Hedland community that the program carried on.
“There’s this perception that this program will be here no matter what, that because it’s a community program we will all just do it,” she said. “We love the work, but in the end we need money to keep it going.”