Barossa’s social issues revealed

At last Wednesday’s Barossa Community Services Network were Ms Michelle Lensink, Minister for Human Services with guest speakers, Karen McDonald, co-ordinator volunteering services, The Barossa Council; Debra Anderson, Barossa Community Services Network chairman; Jo Parker, co-ordinator Barossa and Light Community Transport and Home Assist, The Barossa Council; Merindah Ward, Community Connector project team member. Back: Claire Checker, Centacare; Annabelle Eton-Martin, Foundation Barossa; Mary Ann Murphy, disability advocate; Vicki Williamson, CEO, Carers and Disability Link; Helen Walker, Lutheran Care and Malcolm Fechner, resident.

Homelessness and domestic violence as well as the positives of volunteering in the region were raised at a forum last Wednesday for the Barossa Community Services Network.

Other key social issues for the Barossa including crisis care, disability and disability advocacy, mental health and transport were raised during the two hour session at The Barossa Council chambers, Nuriootpa.

Minister for Human Services, Ms Michelle Lensink attended the event and was joined by around 25 people who represented  various service providers.

Ms Deb Anderson, chairman, Barossa Community Services Network and collaborative project officer with The Barossa Council, said Wednesday’s forum had exceptional attendance and was the biggest face to face meeting the network had held for sometime.

“None of the issues that were raised are new,” said Ms Anderson.

“Homelessness has become more of an issue in the Barossa over the last couple of years and when COVID hit it became a lot more apparent.”

Ms Anderson hoped there is now a greater awareness from the Minister, in addition to Liberal candidate for Schubert, Ms Ashton Hurn, of what some of the social issues are in the Barossa.

“It opened that communication up and we have been asked to provide more information,” said Ms Anderson.

“We have got to have advocates constantly reminding that this region is not the same as metro and the issues here are still very real.”

Ms Anderson said there have been conversations in the past on how the region’s social issues are measured.

She added there aren’t many service providers physically located in the Barossa and therefore the service providers who do receive the funding to address some of the social issues are limited in stretching those resources to the region.

“It was an opportunity to advocate, face to face, with the Minister the real stories,” said Ms Anderson.

With such a strong attendance, Ms Anderson said the event demonstrated, once again, how willing the Barossa is to come together to fight for what they need.

“To have that turnout and to have the participation of the speakers is an example of the Barossa looking after themselves,” said Ms Anderson.

As a result of  Wednesday’s forum, a small group will meet in coming weeks to work through some aspects with the next meeting of the Barossa Community Services Network to be held in coming months.

See the May 26 edition of The Leader for more detailed coverage of highlighted social issues.

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