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From the Minister for Community Services

Friday, 17 August 2007

Footscray’s Western Lodge Supported Residential Service (SRS) will close when its remaining residents move to alternative housing, Community Services Minister Lisa Neville said today.

Ms Neville said more suitable alternative accommodation is being identified for all remaining residents and Western Lodge should be closed in the next two months.

“The Brumby Government’s primary concern is to ensure that the residents are found new accommodation and support services at other SRS in the region, community rooming houses and, where appropriate, public housing,” Ms Neville said.

“We no longer believe that this facility should continue to be registered as an SRS, as it no longer meets residents’ needs.

“Western Lodge’s closure should not come as a surprise. The number of people living in the 100-bed facility was gradually reduced to 60 and, following the appointment of a state-appointed administrator, down to less than 30 residents.”

Residents, their families and carers have been consulted, as the Department of Human Services works with the administrator Wesley Mission Melbourne and local agencies to relocate them.

New accommodation has already been identified for over half of the remaining residents and efforts will continue to place the other residents before the Western Lodge SRS finally closes its doors.

Wesley Mission Melbourne has been Western Lodge’s administrator since last November, due to a dispute between the SRS proprietor and the-then landlord and because of the conditions of the accommodation and inadequate care.

Victoria’s 193 supported residential services are privately owned and run facilities, licensed and regulated by government. However, the state does not have any financial interest in them.

Control of the building will revert to its private owner once the facility is no longer in the hands of an administrator. The property freehold has been sold since the initial administrator was appointed in April 2006.

SRS provide accommodation and support with daily living for about 6500 Victorians.

Extra funding will be available if required to cover any costs associated with relocating people displaced by the closure of the Western Lodge Supported Residential Service.

This will be on top of the $40.4 million Supporting Accommodation for Vulnerable Victorians Initiative aimed at improving sector viability and keeping vulnerable citizens housed and healthy.

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