Information Warrandyte shuts up shop

by SUSAN FOREMAN
8th March 2021

INFORMATION WARRANDYTE closed its doors during the COVID lockdown, and now operator Doncare has decided not to continue operating from the Warrandyte Community Centre site.
Originally the Warrandyte Citizens Advice Bureau, the service commenced operations in 1986 in the Old Post Office and, since November 1991, has been situated at the Warrandyte Community Centre, operating as Information Warrandyte Inc.
In 2017, Information Warrandyte, in partnership with Doncare, commenced delivery of Emergency Relief services following discussions about the provision of local services in the Warrandyte area.
After suffering some significant hurdles in 2019, Information Warrandyte sought the support of Doncare to continue operating.
Doncare provided the following statement:

“Following lengthy discussions with Manningham Council, in March 2020 the Committee of Management agreed to wind-up Information Warrandyte’s Incorporated Association due to the lack of recurring funding.
At that time, with the support of the outgoing committee and subsequent funding from Manningham City Council, Doncare committed to not only continue the services offered from this site, but to expand and build a strong and robust connection to the Warrandyte community.
Of course, no-one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and its profound impact on the Australian economy and society.
Like many other Community Service Organisations, Doncare faced a wide range of sustainability-related implications as the impacts of COVID emerged.
The financial implications on our fundraising due to the temporary closure of the op shops and cessation of fund-raising events and initiatives has been detrimental to our income streams.
While the Op Shops have since reopened, due to a reduction in volunteers and the current economic crisis, the recovery to Doncare’s income has not eventuated, thus, to remain afloat Doncare has implemented cost-saving measures, including reducing its paid workforce from the top down.
Sadly, the stretch on Doncare’s resources has meant that we are not able to adequately resource a second site.
Therefore, with a very heavy heart, Doncare will not be operating from the Warrandyte Community Centre.
Doncare strives to provide innovative, high quality, person-centred services and we pride ourselves on developing initiatives that place the organisation in a robust position to respond to community demand in Warrandyte.
While our plans to deliver services from the Warrandyte Community Centre have been hampered by COVID-19, we continue to provide services to members of the Warrandyte community from MC2 in Doncaster.
Whether we are supporting socially isolated seniors with volunteer supported recreational activities, or paying their winter bills, helping disadvantaged kids get to school or to camp, providing counselling to teens or families, helping women and children escape family violence, or simply being a source of community connection, Doncare’s presence in Manningham, and particularly Warrandyte continues.”

Information Warrandyte has a long and proud history, and some volunteers had provided their valuable service for decades.
One volunteer, Joyce Wilks provided this reflection on the legacy of Information Warrandyte:
“It was run by a voluntary Committee of Management and at their peak they had as many as 38 volunteers.
Most Information Warrandyte volunteers completed a 50-hour accredited training course, and a few volunteers were also accredited to offer Tax Help for eligible low-income clients.
Many volunteers were very loyal, and even after moving away from Warrandyte they continued to come in weekly to do their shift.
Three volunteers put in over 30 years of service.
However modern technology and smart phones took a toll on Information Warrandyte with less visitors and clients needing their services, so the decision was made to disband after serving the Warrandyte community for 34 years.
A final get together was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic until March 2021 when many of the volunteers enjoyed catching up with each other at Petty’s Orchard for morning tea.”

New hope

The good news is that all is not lost.
Manningham Council is actively working to re-establish a service for the Warrandyte Community.
Manningham Yarra Ward councillor, Carli Lange told the Diary:
“Many community groups would love to utilise the space and to work together for the benefit of the community.
“Manningham Council will conduct an expression of interest and looks to have a vital support facility for its community”.
Support services continue to be available from Doncare at their Doncaster facility at 687 Doncaster Road.
The Diary will keep across the issue and will provide updates on the reinstatement of welfare services for our community.