On Track speaks out about contract cut
THE woman responsible for cutting the contract of one of the Tweed's main domestic violence providers has spoken out about her decision for the first time.
Elaine De Vos, who took over the reins of On Track Community Programs a year ago, decided to speak out to clarify that services for domestic violence victims in the Tweed had not suffered as a result of the closure of the Tweed Valley Women's Service (TVWS) in December.
"It can sometimes take six months for our clients to get to a point where they feel they could leave because they are so scared for their lives," Ms De Vos said.
"We cannot have any clients not thinking there are people here waiting for them to make that move. Everything we do is about our clients."
TVWS, which offered support to victims of domestic violence from its Murwillumbah base for the last 30 years, was forced to shut down after On Track terminated its $580,000 contract citing serious contractual breaches.
Ms De Vos said she was compelled to terminate the contract after TVWS failed to offer walk-in domestic violence services in Ballina, as obligated under their contract, and after complaints from emergency services and other agencies.
Complaints included a serious breach of confidentiality regarding a client, inadequate safety planning, and concerns TVWS was working outside DV practice guidelines, she said.
"We had been working with the TVWS to try and have these matters addressed," Ms De Vos said.
She said "not for one minute" did she expect TVWS would have to shut its doors after the contract termination, saying she believed On Track's funding only accounted for 50% of TVWS' overall funding.
"This was the last thing we would've wanted, it flies in the face of everything we are trying to achieve," she said.
Ms De Vos, who sits on the Disabilities Council of NSW board, said she had no choice but to cut ties with TVWS for fear of losing funding for its other programs in the region.
"If we don't follow due process, we could lose our whole contract, so all of our women's refuges would be at risk too," she said.
A non-profit organisation, OTCP manages $25 million in annual government funding, delivered via its 300 staff in offices stretching from Tweed Heads to Grafton.
Under new funding arrangements introduced by the NSW Government in the sector, OTCP is now the lead agency in the area, responsible for delivering a suite of services including domestic violence, homelessness, disability support, drug and alcohol dependency and more.
Ms De Vos said domestic violence support services had been expanded since termination of the TVWS contract, with four refuges now open in the Tweed and a fifth likely in the new future.
Walk-in shopfronts were also available in Tweed Heads and at Ballina, with a new shopfront to be opened soon at Murwillumbah.
Services offered by the organisation include domestic violence, homelessness, Aboriginal domestic violence and homelessness, drug and alcohol programs, as well as disability and employment services.
"This is very close to my heart," Ms De Vos said.
"We are not just about helping people at the point of crisis but providing opportunities to talk to our case workers to help them before they get to that situation."