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Ministers lock horns on Mt Isa accommodation service

The Moderator of the Queensland Synod Rev Dr David Pitman
The Moderator of the Queensland Synod Rev Dr David Pitman is distressed and disappointed at the comments by Housing Minister Robert Schwarten suggesting that the Uniting Church is not in touch with social issues and the demand for public housing in Queensland.

“The Uniting Church is the largest non-government provider of Community Services in the state and last year we helped 1 in 5 Queensland families, and employed in excess of 14,000 people who care for Queenslanders,” Dr Pitman said

“The Uniting Church in Australia has worked tirelessly address homelessness and the causes of homelessness, and provides a comprehensive range of services to support some of the poorest and most needy people in our community.”

The Uniting Church Moderator wrote four weeks ago requesting a meeting with Mr Shwarten to explore ways in which the Uniting Church can continue to provide short-term accommodation for women from rural and remote areas during their final weeks of pregnancy.

“Mr Shwarten has said it is not his responsibility to provide this accommodation,” Dr Pitman said. “Perhaps it is Mr Schwarten who is out of touch with the pressing needs of rural Queenslanders.

“We are disappointed that we have had no response to our request for a meeting but remain ready and willing to meet with the Housing Minister at any time.”

Uniting Church Presbytery Minister Rev Bruce Cornish said the Church has always understood that the flats in Alfred Street were purchased specifically for the purpose of providing short-term accommodation for pregnant women from remote areas.

“The flats were bought by the Housing Commission in consultation with the local Church and were leased to the Church under the ‘Demolition Stock Scheme’.

“Under that scheme, if the church no longer required the flats for the intended use the Housing Commission was to take them back and demolish the buildings.

“The original need identified 18 years ago still exists and the Uniting Church is still committed to serving the people of outback Queensland in this way.”

Dr Pitman said he hopes Minister Schwarten will contact him as a matter of urgency to find a solution.

Photo : The Moderator of the Queensland Synod Rev Dr David Pitman