SIGN TELLS ALL: Residents of Princess St, Churchill were alerted to the proposal when this sign went up.
SIGN TELLS ALL: Residents of Princess St, Churchill were alerted to the proposal when this sign went up. Inga Williams

Halfway home will sit close to child centre in Churchill

A HALFWAY home for indigenous offenders has been proposed at a Churchill site close to support accommodation for abused children.

Indigenous support group Five Bridges have lodged an application with council to establish a boarding house on the site of a vacant house at Princess St, Churchill.

Mercy Family Services operate a residential care program close to the development site to provide "safe, fully supported placements for young people".

The proposal has angered nearby residents who say the facility is not suitable for the quiet suburban street.

More than 100 residents attended a meeting on Sunday with local councillor Charlie Pisasale and a council planning officer, and have started a petition against the development.

Long-term Churchill St resident Gordon Ryder said co-locating the two services was "heading for disaster".

"We have criminals moving into a house near a children's safe house. We had someone from Correctional Services tell us that seven out of 10 re-offend," he said.

Mr Ryder said only three direct neighbours were informed of the development and he had to approach council's planning department for more information.

"They told me it was going to be used as a boarding house with prisoners direct from jail to be rehabilitated in that boarding house. When I heard that I thought the rest of Churchill needs to know this."

Development signs have since gone up on site and public notices are advertising the development.

Five Bridges CEO Julieanne Eisemann said they were not aware of the Mercy Family Services centre when the organisation purchased the site but did not see the boarding house putting the children at risk.

"We offer temporary accommodation for people, some will be released from prison, but they are low risk. These people are fully screened. There are not going to be murderers or any high risk people," Ms Eisemann said.

"I certainly would not do anything that will endanger those kids. I've worked in child protection.

"What we are trying to do is help people come out, help them find permanent accommodation, help them get some ID, look at training, help them move and then they move on. There is no rehabilitation. We are not counsellors.

She said seven residents would be supervised by an elder at the property under the proposal.

"I think if you are going to work with the people in the street I don't see a problem. We are trying to do a good thing."

Cr Pisasale said he had concerns about the application and would do everything he could to protect the residents from an "inappropriate proposal". "What they are proposing should be in a main road in full view, not tucked away in a back street somewhere," he said.

"Close by there are kids under state control 12 years and under.

"It is a quiet family area. Residents have been there for years and now this facility has come in on top of them."

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