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Distress at government withdrawal of Mt Isa support

Moderator of the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church Rev Dr David Pitman. Photo by Osker Lau

After 15 years of the Mt Isa Uniting Church congregation providing accommodation for women from remote communities during the final weeks of pregnancy, the Moderator of the Queensland Synod has expressed deep disappointment at the decision of the State Government to withdraw its support for the facility.

The service to pregnant women has been provided using Department of Housing flats which had originally been scheduled for demolition.

Despite years of maintenance and care by the congregation, the service faces closure following a request from the Housing Minister asking the church to vacate the premises by August 2008.

In a letter to the Housing Minister Robert Schwarten, the Moderator Rev Dr David Pitman said, “The Uniting Church is uniquely placed to provide this service because of its strong community links within the community of Mt Isa through the local congregation and with the remote communities surrounding the town through the patrol ministry.

“We note the public commitment of the Premier to represent and act on behalf of all Queenslanders and wonder what that means in relation to this particular situation.

“There is a real shortage of accommodation in Mt Isa and at this stage there is no apparent alternative,” Dr Pitman said.

“We believe it is quite inappropriate to address this problem in Mt Isa by imposing a further burden on those who so much need the service now being provided by the Uniting Church.

“This means the existing service, which is highly regarded in the community, will probably have to be terminated if the action you propose is taken.”

Since the news of the impending closure reached Mt Isa, local Uniting Church Minister Rev Gordon Burley has been overwhelmed by the response.

“We have received over 100 letters in less than a week from across the remote communities,” said Mr Burley.

Many people have expressed their appreciation for the use of the units and the ministry provided by Mr and Mrs Needham who run them.

One person who had used the flats said, “I cannot stress enough the importance these units have to the outback communities.”

The Moderator has called on Mr Schwarten and the local member to meet with him to seek a solution which allows the ministry to continue.

“I urge the support of the Church in Queensland for this vital ministry and ask members and congregations to be in contact with their local representatives and the Minister asking that this vital service continue.”


Photo : Moderator of the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church Rev Dr David Pitman. Photo by Osker Lau