NARACOORTE Lucindale Council is streamlining its services by closing its Volunteer Resource Centre.
Located on the Ormerod St side of the council, the centre was one of the last volunteer resource centres still standing after being established in 2005 as a front of house delivery point for the volunteer program, delivered through the council across the Limestone Coast region.
The centre also doubled as a contact point for a multicultural resource centre but it is rarely used in that capacity, with the migrant resource centre at the TAFE where most migrants go.
The volunteer centre’s use has further declined over the years with enquiries about volunteering dropping.
It has reached the point where council chief Helen Macdonald said the building was not being used enough to keep open and the space could be used better.
“It is not being used to its maximum capacity,” she told the Herald. “And we don’t have too much spare space so we’re looking for additional room.”
Mayor Erika Vickery clarified at Tuesday night’s council meeting that the council was not cutting services.
“It’s just the building being closed, there’s nothing happening with the service.
“The service will certainly continue, and some of the things being done can be done in other buildings.”
By way of background, director of planning, environment and community development Steve Bourne said the dedicated migrant resource centre and ac.care also expanding its presence in Naracoorte had further reduced the need for the volunteer centre.
Volunteer coordinator Jan Bittner shifted into the council offices in September last year but continued to provide the same service, while the resource centre was being manned by two volunteers for only two days a week.
“By closing the buiding we won’t lose any element of the business that goes on there,” Mr Bourne said.
The idea is to use the building to store council records which are currently housed at the art gallery.
“It’s not really part of the art gallery’s conditions (to house the records),” Dr Macdonald said. “They want access to that space.
“We do have record storage at the depot but these particular records need to be readily accessible to staff.”
Funding from the government for the centre, which started under the Howard Liberal Government, has also been progressively reduced.
Volunteer coordinator Jan Bittner is employed for 38 hours per fortnight on the funding to deliver the regional volunteer service.
She moved into the council offices in 2012 and the centre’s opening hours are restricted to 10am-4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, manned by two volunteers.
“Jan was moved partly so she was among other staff,” Dr Macdonald said. “And for security and occupational health and safety reasons.”
Volunteers at the centre have been helping with a number of council activities such as planning for the Masters Games and seniors month.
Dr Macdonald said roles for these volunteers to continue to support council activities could be provided at the Visitor Information Centre, library or council offices.
Ironically, the volunteer centre has been nominated as a finalist in the Advantage SA regional awards, to be presented in the Naracoorte Town Hall on October 30.