ACON’s western Sydney office is relocating to Surry Hills following lengthy consultations with clients and service providers.
ACON president Adrian Lovney said the closure was due to declining numbers of ACON West office users and rising costs.
The office is extremely expensive, Lovney told Sydney Star Observer.
If we were to continue to maintain it we would have needed to make cuts to services.
This way we can continue to maintain the services and dedicated staff and we’re not going to have $300,000 of dead infrastructure costs.
Lovney admitted the Wentworthville office had not been well utilised in the last couple of years.
When asked whether rumours that only six or seven people regularly visited the office, he said that’s pretty accurate.
My understanding is our needle and syringe exchange out there at Western Sydney has never been used in two years, Lovney said.
Nonetheless, Lovney said people still needed and accessed services in Western Sydney.
They just don’t come into our office to access them, he said. Services are provided by, for example, CSN officers who go to people’s homes. We do work with advisory services. We do homophobia workshops in schools.
There are whole range of things we do in Western Sydney and there’s no evidence that those services aren’t needed and we can provide them just as effectively in venues, pubs and clubs, community health centres, people’s homes or in schools, Lovney said.
Lovney said another major factor was the size and spread of Western Sydney.
In a community like the Northern Rivers, where you’ve got a discrete population of a certain size or critical mass, then having an office is useful because you’ve got a point of focus.
But I think Western Sydney is so large that I don’t think there’s a discrete identity in that sense, he said.
A statement on the new ACON West Outreach Service outlined continuing activities, including a referral service for same-sex attracted youth and the provision of education and community development services to local community members and groups.
For more information on ACON West services visit www.acon.org.au.